Category: bailout


When legislators in Congress are appointed to a “presidential blue-ribbon committee,” their importance raises in their party. Instantly, their influence is more significant, and the media begins to seek them out for interviews. The six Democrats, three from the Senate and three from the House, and the six Republicans three from the Senate, and three from the House comprise “Obama’s Super Committee.”

The “Super Committee” is a twelve bipartisan Congressional group who will work on a debt-reduction strategy to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion by Thanksgiving of this year. The twelve member panel has a historic opportunity to overhaul the Tax Code and entitlements. If the committee fails to produce a debt reduction plan of $1.2 trillion, across-the-board cuts would kick in evenly divided between defense and non-defense spending to make up $1.2 trillion in cuts.

The committee’s co-chairs are Representative Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). The rest of the members are as follows; Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Senator John Kerry(D-MA), Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Representative Dave Camp (R-MI), Representative James Clyburn (D-SC), and Representative Fred Upton (R-MI).

There is a good cross-section of experience and knowledge on the panel, but I wonder if anyone has the courage to significantly cut the military’s budget and funding. In the last ten years, the military base budget has increased by 80% from $302 billion in 2000 to $545 billion in 2011, says the National Priorities Project. The total cost of the Iraq war since 2001 is $869 billion, and the cost of the Afghanistan war $487 billion.

Most people ignore the nation’s security budget, but that became a new line item in 2001 with homeland security. This is a hard line item to arrive at because it flows through dozens of federal agencies. It started as a request for 16 billion, but in the last ten years the government has spent $636 billion.

When the figure for military spending for the last ten years is added up, the number is around $8 trillion. This is the number that the National Priorities Project has used, but a recent study published by the Watson Institute of International Studies at Brown University took a broader approach. By including funding for such things as veterans benefits, future cost for treating the war-wounded, and interest payments on war related borrowing, they came up with an additional $3.2 trillion.

These additional expenses increase the number for military spending in ten years to be around $11 or $12 trillion. With all the serious discussion on reducing the debt, it would seem logical to take a hard look at military funding and spending. There are some on the Super Committee who are against cutting military spending and believe that funding should be increased.

Nevertheless, the question must be raised, is our country safer with all the money being spent, and is the money being wasted? For the last ten years, the government has tries to do an audit with the military, and they haven’t had any success. There are so many secret funds, because of national security, an audit is vertically impossible.

Everyone knows that there is fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement in the military’s budget. It would appear that in the military’s budget, the legislators could find $600 to $700 billion to cut over the next 5 to 10 years. Cutting another $500 billion is going to be tough and the Super Committee has its work cut out for them.

The president is finally getting the parties to sit down and arrive at a compromise. All eyes and the media will be focused on the Super Committee for the next four months.

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Last week President Obama decided to take his battle with the Republicans to the street and the public. He held a press conference and he sharply chastised Republicans as supporting tax breaks for jet-setting corporate executives, at the expense of college scholarships or medical research. The president also criticized members of the Republicans of not being prepared with their facts on the debt ceiling, and more concerned with taking a vacation.

Representative Raul Labrador (R-Idaho)

This press conference did not sit well with the Republicans and they immediately began to fire back at the president. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Obama to drop what he’s doing and come to the Capitol for a meeting.

Representative Raul Labrador said, “House Republicans acted, and now we await your spending reduction plan – perhaps not with open arms, but we have open minds.”

The Democrats and the Republicans have been debating for the last month over raising the nation’s borrowing limit. Both parties agree that in order for the country to continue to pay its bills, it is necessary to raise the debt ceiling. Since 2001 the credit limit has been raised 10 times, so every time the lawmakers vote for spending hikes essentially they have raised the ceiling.

Nevertheless, it is necessary to formally vote on the size of the increase, and some lawmakers want a bigger increase and others want a smaller increase. The first limit was set in 1917 at $11.5 billion, and the current debt limit is set at $14.2 trillion. The country’s accrued debt hit that number on May 16, 2011.

Either party or the president is not happy with our country being $14.2 trillion in debt, and the president at his news conference laid out his reason why it is necessary to raise the debt limit. “These are bills that Congress ran up,” Obama said, in explaining why the U.S. must not default on its debt obligations. “They took the vacation. They bought the car. Now they’re saying, maybe we don’t have to pay.”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Treasury Secretary Geithner has set the date August 2, 2011 as the day when the debt limit must be raised for the country to continue to pay its bills. At this moment both parties are busy playing politics, but at some time soon every one will have to agree. Politics is a nerve racking business and our lawmakers tend to wait till the last days to strike a compromise.

Following President Obama’s press conference, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley had strong words for the Republicans. Many political pundits and experts are concerned with the bluntness of the Obama’s administration and are afraid that their tough position will drive the two sides further apart.

Bill Daley said, “I find that at times people who continually attack the president, beat him up on not only on

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley

policy, personality, and a whole bunch of things. The minute he takes a tone that is a little more direct, and it was not personal. It was direct in that the leaders of Congress in both parties and especially those who are saying that revenue are off the table period in trying to solve this problem, that somehow that’s going to hurt feelings of people. This is not a time to worry about feelings; this is a time to get results.”

Maybe the president is now putting on his boxing gloves, and he is going toe to toe with the Republican Party. It is too early to make that assumption, but in his last news conference, the president was aggressive and assertive. The president was elected to lead and sometime to lead, it is necessary to hurt feelings to get the job done.

President Obama meeting with CEOs for "job council"

President Obama made it clear this week that he is 100% focused on creating jobs. Even though there may be some confusion on exactly what he is doing, he has a council now working with him. The group of CEOs who are working with the president are some of the leaders of the largest companies in the world, and they have the power to make an impact.

This job council is composed of many of the Fortune 500 CEO’s such as: General Electric, American Express, DuPont, Time Warner, Eastman Kodak, Xerox, and many more. The president is elated to have these leaders of some of the best companies in the country to work with him on his job’s initiative.

President Obama this week had a meeting with the members of the council in North Carolina. At the meeting he said, “Now government is not and should not be – the main engine of job-creation in the country. But one thing government can do is partner with private sector to make sure that every worker has the necessary skills for the jobs they are applying for.”

The job council has been working since February, and their goal is to create 1 million jobs through improved worker training in advanced manufacturing skills. There is no secret that the president’s record on the economy is seen as his weak spot, and unemployment numbers are still over 9%.

President Obama meeting with CEOs for "job council"

If the president plans to win the election in 2012, the unemployment numbers must improve. No president has won re-election with unemployment numbers more than 6% except President Regan, and his numbers were over 7%. It is obvious that President has his work cut out for him, and his unemployment numbers are increasing instead of decreasing this month.

At this meeting President Obama said, “The private sectors has hired two million jobs in the last 15 months.” Even if the president’s numbers are correct, the devastating effects that the economy has had on the middle and the lower class, 2 million jobs is just a drop in the bucket compared to the suffering in many communities.

Many of the political experts and members of the media are concerned about the composition of the members on the council. Many of the leaders of these large corporations in the last decade were more concerned with cutting their workforce instead of growing it.

General Election’s domestic workforce shrank by 25,000, and the number overseas increased. American Express’s workforce has decreased by 28%, in the last decade, and, Kodak’s has only 18,800 employees compared to 75,000 in 2001. Intel has trimmed the number of workers it employs over the past decade, and this is the general rule for most large companies.

Facebook is probably the only company on the president’s job council who legitimately is growing. There are no small or midsize companies on the council, and diversity is also limited in the group.

GE CEO Jeff ImlettAmerican Express CEO Ken Chenault

Last week, GE’s Jeff Immelt, and American Express’s Ken Chenault, who happens to be Black, put out an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, where they laid out some of the council ideas on job creation. There are five steps the panel is recommending to create more than 1 million jobs in five specific areas.

They include training workers through partnerships with community colleges, cutting red tape to speed creation of construction jobs, and boosting travel and tourism by easing the visa process for visitors. They also want to offer more help to small businesses seeking funding from SBA, and concentrating on jobless construction workers by putting them to work on energy projects.

Now the work begins, because now the administration will have to find the funding to make the plans work. In the next few months, we will find out if the CEOs and the administration are serious or they are blowing hot air.

African-Americans in June 2011 have the highest rate of unemployment of any ethnic group in America. The most recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics report that black unemployment is 16.1%, and the total unemployment in the country is at 9%. While white unemployment has decreased since May of last year to 8%, our numbers are increasing.

The unemployment numbers for Hispanics is 11.8%, and the rate for Asians is at 6.4%. There are a variety of reasons for the disparity in the numbers, but we all can agree that there is a crisis and a state of emergency in the African-American community. To Reverend Jesse Jackson, the high numbers of unemployed black is a

Rev. Jesse Jackson

“cry for help” due to systematic racism and a failure to enforce the law.

I would agree with Rev Jackson, but I think the problem of black unemployment is far more complex, and a portion of our problem is the state of our family and community. A lack of education is pervasive in our community, and a small percentage in the black community is prepared for present jobs and jobs in the future.

The problems with unemployment in the black community must be attacked on many fronts. African-American politicians, the black business community, black leaders and community organizers must petition and put pressure on President Obama and his administration. We should not be satisfied with a generic workforce conference, but what we need is a jobs conference focused on the black community.

In 2011, it is not politically correct or expedient for our president to talk about or focus on the problems in the black community. But when we analyze the unemployment numbers, blacks are hurting the most. We have the worst numbers in the country and there is no plan to alleviate the suffering.

Dr. Boyce Watkins

“Like a festering and infested wound that remains untreated, President Obama’s support within the black community is threatened by the fact that the people who love him most are suffering unlike anything our nation has seen over the last 50 years,” says Dr. Boyce Watkins. Since the beginning of 2008, some 375,000 government jobs have been eliminated, and blacks make up 21% of the government workforce. Many blacks who had excellent government salaries have lost a paycheck, and the same is happening in the private sector.

Many Blacks in blue collar positions and lower class jobs are losing their jobs to many in the Hispanic community. Restaurant workers and the agricultural industry are now controlled by immigrants, who make sure that their family is the first hired. With global outsourcing, many of the office jobs and manufacturing jobs no longer exist.

There are no simple answers to the Black unemployment crisis. The question must be raised is, Just how high does the black unemployment rate have to be before the Obama Administration and Congress consider it a crisis? Maybe the Congressional Black Caucus can initiate a study on black unemployment in their districts and spearhead a movement to develop a plan to eliminate and improve black unemployment.

As the black unemployment numbers continue to deteriorate, it is time for African-Americans to use their political clout. If the automobile industry, housing industry, financial industry, and construction industry can get billions in bailouts, there is no reason why the black community should not get their portion of bailouts.

In many of these depressed communities, the target market is 75% to 85% African-American. Everyone in the country must be held accountable for this crisis. The solution must start with the apathetic attitude in the black community, and should also be addressed in the White House and the halls of Congress. African-Americans must attack unemployment on all the fronts, and our community must be mobilized with an organized plan.

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