Obama on the Defense Against Black Politicians

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obama_sc_04_01_2007731285Members of Congress and political pundits have grown louder in their frustration with the White House, asserting that President Barack Obama has not been doing enough to help African Americans.

Earlier this month, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) criticized the Obama administration for not doing enough to help African Americans weather the economic turmoil. The group recently boycotted a vote on the financial overhaul measure in an effort to protest the Obama Administration. Though the bill passed without problems, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said the CBC is willing to side with Republicans on future bills if the president does not shape up.

The organization wants Obama to put more emphasis on foreclosure reduction and provide more aid to banks that lend to African Americans.

Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, recently told The Hill, “[Obama] called me and told me that he heard that I was demeaning him. I had to explain to him that it wasn’t anything personal, it was an honest difference on the issues,” regarding his public criticism of the president.

But it is not just black politicians on Capital Hill grumbling louder about Obama. Actor and activist Danny Glover and Civil Rights activist Jesse Jackson also voiced their displeasure with Obama earlier this month.“I think the Obama administration has followed the same playbook, to a large extent–almost verbatim, as the Bush administration. I don’t see anything different,” Glover told The Daily Beast.

While analysts agree that critics do raise valid points, they also note that many general policies have disproportionate benefits to blacks. “Blacks are more likely to work in the public sector than whites, so the aid to states with large black populations have kept a lot of blacks employed,” says Algernon Austin, director, Economic Policy Institute. “Blacks are more likely than whites to lack health insurance, so again, the health insurance bill will yield disproportionate benefit for blacks.”

But others contend that the president’s foreclosure and credit programs are not target-specific enough, therefore leaving out African Americans. “Universal health insurance will not give everybody universal healthcare because not everybody is situated the same,” says John A. Powell, executive director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Powell says universal health insurance won’t put healthcare providers in communities that sorely need them, which tend to be disproportionally African American.

Obama went on the defense last week, responding to the criticism. “This notion that somehow–because there wasn’t a transformation overnight–that we’ve been neglectful is simply factually not accurate,’’ he said in an interview with the American Urban Radio Networks.

He says steps he has taken to improve education, healthcare, and urban economies will improve the day-to-day lives of all Americans, including blacks and other minorities: “I can’t pass laws that say I’m just helping black folks. I’m the president of the entire United States. What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need.’’

  • Jacqueline

    Sooo…Black lawmakers tried to block the passage of a bill that would provide regulation to an industry that disproportionately either ignores or takes advantage of Blacks (the financial industry) because the President isn’t creating jobs and special programs just for Black folks.

    This is NOT helping.

  • Tina

    Ummm HELLooooo !!! Obama is the president of America not Black America! We didn’t make it through slavery then through the civil rights movement just to become some big crybaby’s whining about what somebody isnt doing for us Today. We are always talking about what someone is NOT doing for us but NEVER talking about what we are NOT doing for OURSELVES as a people!! I’m so sick of the whining and crying that I don’t know what to do with myself! The CBC of all people. I would expect them to be more intelligent than this. Everything that Obama is working to put into effect will affect us as african americans positively. If Obama gets up there and starts being pro-black, do you really think he’s going to get reelected???? NO he’s not! Obama knows how to play the game and because he knows how to play so well he can get legisation pushed through that will benefit African Americans. My question is this, black folks have always had it hard during every other president’s term. Why didn’t we holler when bush was in office? Hell we stood by and allowed him to get more than one term. Where was CBC then? Why is it we let all these other years go by under all these other white presidents and not make a noise but the minute a “Black Man” gets in office now we are big and bad enough to holler. To say that Obama is not doing for African Americans is untrue and down right bull. CBC threatening to go republican makes them sound like dummies running back to the white man! This sends a terrible message to America when we as African Americans go on these tirades. It says to America that we as African Americans don’t support our own. If we don’t support our own why should we expect anyone else to support us!?! So to the Danny Glovers and the CBCs and whoever else sits in the same boat ,what would you do differently??? I’m interested to hear your views. What’s your plan? huh? I’M WILLING TO BET YOU DON’T HAVE ONE! I trust and believe that Obama is going to do the absolute best he can do to turn things around for us and he’s got my support through hell and high water but at the end of the day WE as a Black People cannot keep looking to one man to save us because it’s just not fair to that one man. We need to hold ourselves accountable for a lot of the mess that we are in. Sorry for the extended post but I can’t stand it when black folks get shortsighted and start sounding ignorant. We are better than this ya’ll damn!