A collection of newsworthy information as reported from newspapers, magazines, and blogs.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Maxine, what the hell is wrong with you? Sometimes, it’s better to keep your trap shut.

And to all those African-Americans who have now taken to the streets to decry what they allege is Obama's lacking in the Black community, I still say we are the most unrelenting and unfair when it comes to our own. Bill Clinton (who cut welfare and food stamps) was proudly dubbed by many African-Americans (including 2 of Obama's biggest critics, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West) as the nation's "first Black President" but Obama (who is our REAL first Black President) is not Black enough! Really?

People want to shout about him not doing anything for Black America, but I guess increasing funding for HBCU's , expanding SBA programs for minority-owned businesses and increasing Pell Grants for low-income families means nothing. 
U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Florida said federal stimulus spending had a clear effect on employment in her state. “I know that when the first stimulus package was passed, I was a member of the Florida Senate,” she said. “Thousands of teachers who were African Americans, police officers – their jobs were saved because the stimulus money came through to help. HBCUs were saved because the stimulus money came through. The Pell Grants were saved; all of these are issues of the African-American community,”

Now, I have already informed myself on what this President has done to help the American population in general, and African-Americans in particular.
Considering 2.7 years as the current timetable of his accomplishments, I would note that President Obama has reformed the health care system, which will provide subsidies for lower-income individuals who may not currently be covered (many who are AA), and also provides funding for badly needed community clinics, while doing away with pre-existing condition restrictions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease, all ailments suffered in alarming rates by members of the black community.

In addition, women will soon get birth control free of charge if insured, which means that women who were previously going to Planned Parenthood – because, even with insurance, they couldn’t afford the price of contraceptives – won’t need to anymore. This leaves women who are uninsured more resources to get birth control via Planned Parenthood. Plus, the stimulus saved the biggest health care provider to the black community, the various state Medicaid programs. As well, the President closed the Medicare donut hole in prescription drugs, reduced seniors’ prescription prices by 50% through the use of generic drugs, and sent $250 payments to seniors to make up to the lack of a COLA increase for two years now.

Further, the President literally, by his lonesome, saved the auto industry (while being criticized for it all the while), and in so doing saved many jobs held by African-Americans in the Midwest. No less, the Cash for Clunkers program provided needed cash to those with clunkers permanently parked or about to stop running.

Benefiting young people who are attempting to afford rising college tuition, President Obama increased Pell grants, supported funding community colleges at unprecedented levels, and reformed the private student loan programs to eliminate the middleman, thereby reducing loan interest rates. He also revamped the actual repayment of loan programs, reducing them to not more than 10% of income, while providing incentives to those who would choose community service careers. His credit card reform bill stopped the predatory practice of credit card companies gifting young people with the ability to ruin their credit at an early age (something that hits our community harder than most). He is also cracking down on for-profit educational enterprises, some of which charge outrageous fees for inferior post-secondary education. These same young people are now able to stay insured under their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, whether they are enrolled in school part-time, full-time or not at all.

For the younger children, President Obama is responsible for signing a bill insuring healthier meals are served in our nation’s public schools, thereby addressing the issue of childhood obesity, a subject that affects more children in the African-American community than in others. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign is also addressing this serious issue. And we shouldn’t forget that early in his term, President Obama provided healthcare to 11 million additional children via the CHIP program previously vetoed by President Bush.

As states cut funding for public education, President Obama recently allowed waivers to states to do away with strict requirements set by No Child Left Behind, requirements which would have marked many of the public schools in low-income neighborhoods for closure. He has also invested in the development and replication of successful charter school programs, again focusing on low-income communities, while rewarding teachers who plan to teach in such areas.

President Obama has assisted all Americans, which includes African-American workers, by providing a payroll tax reduction (beneficial to workers who may or may not pay income tax), extended unemployment benefits, kept income tax low for the working class, and signed financial reform into law (which benefits our community largely because minorities were especially hard hit by the subprime mortgage crisis). There is also the up and coming Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which promises to be on the side of consumers, and we as black people are certainly that!

I cannot forget that the first black president increased military pay and improved veterans’ health care, is drawing down troops in Iraq, and has set a timeline for our departure from Afghanistan.

Lastly, President Obama instituted reform of crack cocaine sentencing, and the deadly killer, the tobacco industry. And – lo and behold – black farmers were recently finally awarded their long awaited settlement!"Clearly, we can't sit and wait for Obama to knock on our doors to chat. Our elected
leadership will do what it will for as long as we allow it. Indeed, we can't "make them" fix the economy by asking them to do it. We can only get it to happen by organizing, educating, and mobilizing people from all walks of life to fight for justice in all places where it does not exist, from our nation's capital to our own neighborhoods."  So ask yourself this the next time you find yourself complaining about what your President has not done in the past 2 years, "what have I done in the past 2 years to help my President?" The answer just may surprise you and we just might find out that the real problem may not be all about the President's record it may be about our record as well!


Dear Rep. Barbara Lee, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Can We Talk? - http://www.democratsforprogress.com/2011/08/18/dear-rep-barbara-lee-chair-of-the-congressional-black-caucus-can-we-talk/#.Tk1rW7qCLC6.facebook

An Obama Supporter Strikes Back: Points in Defense of the President - http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/12966

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"There Is Something Wrong With Our Politics"

President Obama is the first president to deliver targeted tax relief to the working poor in many of our lifetimes.  If you work for a living, you pay payroll taxes – taxes that go to fund Social Security. The President got a 2-point cut for every American without impacting the Social Security trust fund (as Treasury was required to reimburse the lost revenue to the trust fund from its general fund).  This tax cut is targeted to the working poor and the middle class without resulting in a boondoggle for the ultra-rich.  Why is the targeting so important? Because people who benefit the most from it are also the most likely to spend any additional dollars in their pocket. Not to buy luxuries, but to buy everyday necessities – like shoes for the kids, getting their broken oven fixed or clothes they need for work. That’s the spending that also helps our economy going.

Contrary to the Republican mantra, however, the unemployed are not lazy. They are unemployed. Unemployment benefits give the unemployed the resources they need to stay afloat while they look for a job in a very tough economy, and every dollar in unemployment benefits adds $1.60 to the economy. This is even more effective than the payroll tax cut, because of the same principle – that people who really have nothing spend the money they get in unemployment benefits. That spending creates economic activity – businesses get to stay open, new employees can be hired (or the old ones kept) and it keeps the bottom from falling out of the economy.

Throughout his trip, the President proposed a series of common sense steps Congress can take immediately upon their return to Washington that will start rebuilding our economy. These include:
Extend the payroll tax cut so that middle class families have more money in their paychecks next year. If you've got more money in your paycheck, you're more likely to spend it, and that means businesses of all sizes will have more customers. They'll be in a better position to hire.
Extend unemployment benefits so that millions of workers who are still pounding the pavement looking for jobs can support their families.
Pass a bipartisan road construction bill. There are over a million construction workers out of work after the housing boom went bust, just as a lot of America needs rebuilding. We can put these workers back to work by rebuilding our roads and bridges and railways.
Pass the patent reform bill to help our innovators and entrepreneurs get their job creating ideas to market faster.
Pass the trade agreements that will help businesses sell more American-made goods and services to Asia and South America, supporting tens of thousands of jobs here at home.
Put our bright, talented and skilled veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan to work. The President has proposed several initiatives to make sure our veterans are able to navigate this difficult labor market and succeed in the civilian workforce, including the Returning Heroes and Wounded Warrior Tax Credits, and his challenge to the private sector to train or hire 100,000 unemployed veterans.
Until Republicans became the opposed-to-everything-simply-because-Obama-supports-it party, infrastructure investment used to be a nonpartisan issue. Sen. Kerry has already introduced an infrastructure bank bill along with Texas Republican Sen. Hutchinson and Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner. Yet Republicans are holding it up.