Congressional Black Caucus

In the past few weeks, there appears to be some turbulence in the relationship between the President Obama and the (CBC) Congressional Black Caucus. Many of our congressional leaders, and political spokespersons felt the president was not concerned with African Americans or forgot we had special issues and problems.

Based on the present unemployment numbers for Blacks at 16%, and the national unemployment numbers stand at 9%, there is a crisis in our community. In certain cities, the unemployment numbers for African American men is over 50%, and there are no jobs or businesses in the community. It is obvious that the economic recovery has missed these communities, and the president refused to address these problems.

It was also in the news that the president and his advisors had canceled meetings with the CBC, and the relationship was strained with the 43-member organization. There was a need for the president and the CBC to sit down and clear the air, and work on having a better relationship.

Last week President Obama had a meeting with the CBC in the State Dining Room of the White House. The focus of the meeting was to discuss job creation, economic growth, and unveil a plan to help young people find jobs for low-income youth. He also introduced a plan for “Growth Zones”, designed to give tax incentives for investments in economically distressed areas.

A majority of the members of CBC represent residents who live in these kinds of communities and they need special help. The CBC has long complained that the president was not addressing their core problems and had negotiated away funding for key social programs. With the unemployment numbers for Blacks at almost 50% more than the national average, the CBC was frustrated with the president and his administration.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, head of the CBC

Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the caucus, insisted that the organization’s relationship with the president is strong. “We want nothing more than to see the president succeed. No good solid relationship is devoid of disagreements. We look forward to building upon our strong relationship.”

The White House insists President Obama has not forgotten the problems that confront African American residents. In meeting with the CBC, the president is making sure the lines of communication with the CBC are open. The president is also aware that 80% of African Americans support his administration.

Very rarely has many Blacks heard the president talk about the African American community and poor people. The president always talks about the middle class and it appears that his target is Middle America. As the 2012 election gets closer, it will be important and essential to include all the races, with a special focus on African Americans and Hispanics.

The nation’s economic recovery missed the African American community, and it will take more targeted investments to move the needle. Money must be spent on education and economic development in the Black community. It will take more than talk, because there is a need for tangible programs that invest and modernize distressed communities.

With the Republicans in control of the House, a battle is brewing, and no one can predict the outcome. The president has taken a positive step by sitting down with the CBC to clear the air and present new programs. The programs will only get so far without proper funding.

The African American community has given and given when the president needed extraordinary support. It is time that the president gives extra support to the African American community with job creation and special investments for expanding small businesses.

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