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Congressional Black Caucus Frustrated with Obama

March 12, 2010

From this article:

A year ago, members of the Congressional Black Caucus openly wept at Barack Obama’s inauguration. Slowly, that euphoria has given way to frustration that his administration has not done more for black America. Questions about how to elect him have been replaced by questions about how to prod him.

For many, it is the surprise of a political lifetime that they find themselves wrestling with such quandaries. Alternately puzzled and disgruntled, CBC members say key people in the Obama administration have taken them for granted, in the belief that black members of Congress have no stomach for a fight with the country’s first black president.

“We concluded they were just kind of listening to us and that then they would go back [to their offices] and conclude that we would do nothing,” Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), the vice chairman of the CBC, said of one dispute. “Because they had concluded there’s a black president in the White House and that, to some degree, the Black Caucus, you know, was constrained in expressing its desires. After a while, we said, ‘Hey, we see what’s going on and it’s nothing.’ ”

On Thursday, CBC members participated in a rare one-hour policy meeting with Obama at the White House to discuss their concerns, most notably their disappointment over a jobs bill that they regard as largely a package of tax breaks for employers, noticeably bereft of job-training programs, new infrastructure projects and summer employment opportunities for youth. Such issues are vital to the CBC, many of whose members represent districts with high levels of unemployment.

In interviews with aides and members afterward, Obama was described as receptive to their message, even though he did not make any large-scale commitments. “He said he knew what unemployment looks like in ‘my own neighborhood in Chicago,’ ” recounted Cleaver, who stressed that he was speaking only for himself. “He said he wanted to do things as quickly as possible.”

“There was no contention at all,” said Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.). “The president is very clearly focused on jobs and job creation.”

A White House official issued a statement that ignored any tensions with CBC members and stressed the administration’s goals: “President Obama is working to develop inclusive policies, whether in health care, education or the economy, that will have a broad impact on the American people, and Thursday’s meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus was a productive effort toward reaching that goal.”

Not withstanding Thursday’s kind words, the CBC’s list of complaints with the White House runs from policy to personal. Despite the caucus’s entreaties, the administration has not provided targeted help to black communities and other struggling areas suffering from disproportionately high unemployment, members complain. Many caucus members say they feel largely ignored by key White House advisers. Their communication with Obama himself is minimal to nonexistent.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 13, 2010 11:00 pm

    The Stimulus Bill contains billions of dollars for training, unprecedented amounts for students at any level to pursue training and education. Such availability has not been seen for a decade in America.

    This is not about ‘Black’, just because the President happens to be Black. The needs and interests of America come first; and whatever legislative agenda that the President pursues, that agenda must be framed in the context of ‘what is in the best interest of America’.

    The point to the ‘tax break’ is a direct one-to-one compensation arrangement to employers for hiring employees; to encourage growth in employment. Everyone benefits.

    Especially those who have improved their skills by utilizing training and education funding that has been made available, in unprecedented quantities, in H.R. 1.

    So there your have it, there’s your program.

    If these individuals (CBC was indicated above) expressed disappointment in that legislation and further expressed disappointment because of the lack of ‘Programs’. I think they very much are missing the point, big time.

    I believe the efforts of the CBC would better serve the needs of those that they express an interest in assisting, by making sure that people in their districts do not lose out on the opportunities that such legislation has already created (which is often or usually the case for those most in need), for starters.

    Kids need real educations. The same money that is spent on ‘Summer Jobs Programs’ (that were first ever created to placate segments or our society during the summer months when Riot’s were in vogue, early 70’s) can instead keep the same youngsters busy doing something ‘real’ like hanging out at the community college and attending some classes during the summer. Not to mention the teachers salaries, the janitors salaries and so forth who will also benefit. The money is better spent.

    You say that there’s not enough schools for all of those kids in your district… then build some. America is forced to wean itself off of the idiocy that we have practiced in the past, and this, in many areas.

    I found this site by accident but I will be watching this one. Keep me abreast of what ‘our’ leaders are doing..

    Sincerely,

    Amiel.

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