Category: Congress


My brother in-law believes that middle class Blacks in America have disproportionately been economically destroyed by the recession of 2008. The African American communities have watched its wealth diminish, and many of the homes they accumulated, foreclosed. Their retirement savings have disappeared, and the American dream is quickly fading away.

My brother in-law feels this is a master plan to keep the African American community from experiencing the joys and freedoms of the American dream. He also believes when there are hard economic times, our community is the first hit, the conditions are terrible, and crime becomes very prevalent. He is correct in his assessment of our community, but the destruction of the middle class is everywhere in America, and it impacts all Americans across the board.

President Obama spoke last week and declared that the American middle class is in jeopardy, and it has been negatively impacted by the recession/depression of 2008. The crash of housing, banking, credit, jobs, and automobile industries have dried up resources and the country is trying to find its way out of a mess. Everyone in the country is angry, and it has sparked protest and political movements, from the tea party to the people who have occupied the streets of New York and other cities.

“This is a make-or –break moment for the middle class and those fighting to get into the middle class. At stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest saving, own a home and secure their retirement,” said President Obama. Some members of the media are calling this the president’s “fair shot speech” and they are comparing it to Roosevelt’s “square deal speech.”

President Obama is a student/professor of political history, and he picked Osawatomie, Kansas to give a compelling and fiery speech about being a reformer and an activist for change. President Roosevelt also came to this small town, and gave a speech to let the citizens know, that he was fighting for the regular Americans, who worked hard everyday.

President Obama in his “fair shot speech” attacked Republicans for their belief that the economy will improve with the trickle down philosophy. The Republicans approach is, “our country is better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves, and play by their own rules,” said the president. He believes that this trickle down philosophy does not work, and it has created inequality in the country.

“In the last few decades, the average income of the top one percent has gone up by more than 250%, to $1.2 million per year. For the top one hundredth of one percent, the average income is now $27 million per year. The typical CEO earns 110 times more than his or her worker, and most Americans in the last decade, their incomes have fallen by about six percent,” says President Obama.

In this speech, he does admit there is a need to control spending, and rebuild the economy. He is aware that the Republicans will attack his stewardship of the economy, and there is more work that is needed on the economy.

The American standard of living is economically being challenged, and Americans have a right to be angry. The president can give great speeches, but in order to be re-elected, he must be able to get his policies through Congress. The president ran on a platform of change, and now is the time to let Americans know that he is in charge.

The middle class will be the major group to help put President Obama in office for another term. Americans must begin to feel good about the president’s policies, and there is credibility and integrity in Congress

President Obama and congressional leaders traded blame on who is at fault for not reaching a deficit reduction deal. Many political pundits and experts believed that the super committee from its very conception was doomed to fail. They didn’t think that the two parties are able to work together in this Congress, and reach a compromise and agreement.

The American citizen feels that there is no leadership from either party, and the economy is in a precarious situation. As the two parties draw a line in the sand, we can expect more fighting and more finger-pointing. In 2012, the fight will be over job creation, healthcare, immigration, taxes, military spending, housing market, debt, and the deficit.

It appears the more the two parties fight, both sides think they will win, and benefit politically and substantively. They would rather fight and look foolish to the world, and the American people. The nature of democracy is to compromise, but in our Congress in 2011, the nature of the legislators is to remain stubborn.

The co-chairs of the bipartisan special joint committee said in a statement that, “after months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline.”

This was a very difficult task but I was speculating that this committee would be successful. This super committee was charged with the responsibility to find $1.2 trillion in spending reductions and deficit reductions measures.  There were 6 members from each party and together they would agree on cuts and negotiate a plan to present to the public and Congress.

Many believe at the center of this dispute is a conservative activist Grover Norquist, and author of a popular GOP campaign pledge never to raise taxes. There are many Republicans across the country and in Congress, who have taken the pledge and refuse to raise taxes. He is also the head of a conservative group, Americans for Tax Reform, and many Republicans refuse to disagree with this organization.

There are 95% of Republicans in the Senate and House, who have signed the pledge. This pledge is a sacred covenant for virtually anyone wishing to run as a Republican, and it is a clearinghouse for conservative ideas.

President Obama is placing the blame on the Republicans, because they rejected a balanced approach to deficit reduction that included tax increases on the wealthy. “Despite broad agreement that exists for such an approach, there are still too many Republicans in Congress that have refused to listen to the voices of reason and compromise that are coming from outside of Washington,” said President Obama.

All of the legislators on both sides of the fence are discussed with the super committee, because many thought it had a task that was achievable. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said, “It is nothing short of an embarrassment, an absolute national disgrace, and failure of leadership that we cannot agree on even a paltry $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions.”

Since the super committee did not reach an agreement, there will be automatic cuts of $1.2 trillion over the next year. They are heavily focused toward defense and there is no clear planning on how they will be implemented. There is no planning on the expiration on the Bush tax cuts, which will raise rates on all Americans in 2013.

The two parties can continue to fight and not agree on anything, and blame each other. But logically it would make more sense to compromise and get our fiscal house in order.  

 

“These may be the worst unemployment numbers for African-Americans in years. How is it that the overall unemployment numbers stay the same and black unemployment gets worse,” says the Congressional Black Caucus blog. In July, black unemployment numbers increased to 16.7%, as compared to 16% in June. Unemployment numbers are holding at 8.1% for whites, and there is a huge disparity when unemployment numbers are analyzed and compared to blacks at 16.7%.

There is a crisis in the African-American community for jobs, and there is a depression taking place. Many of the economists are calling the situation with the economy as double-dip recession, but blacks know it as a depression. There are no jobs, they can’t pay their bills, and unemployment checks and benefits are running out.

Even Newt Gingrich is criticizing President Obama, and calling our economy the “Obama Depression.” “No administration in modern time has failed younger blacks more than the Obama administration,” says Gingrich. Gingrich’s argument rest in the fact that 40% of American black teens this summer were unemployed, and he thinks that the Obama administration is not doing enough for black youth.

There is also in many African-American cities, the unemployment rate for black males is 50%. That means that 1 out of every 2 black male is standing or hanging out on street corners with no goals, no job, and no motivation to improve. As the job situation continues to deteriorate in the cities, there will be more violence, crime, and political disobedience. Political disobedience can take many different forms, but people are upset and angry.

In 2008, on the campaign trail President Obama said, “I still believe in affirmative action as a means of overcoming both historical and political current discrimination. But I think that it can’t be a quota system, and it can’t be something that is simply applies without looking at the whole person, whether that person is black, white, or Hispanic, male, or female.”

I am not sure what the president was referring to when he made that statement, but I inferred that the president meant in certain situations there is a need to develop programs to address certain conditions. With the African-American unemployment rate at 16.7%, it is time for the president to develop programs that specifically addresses the black job crisis.

It is essential that the African American community focus needs to be placed on job creation, and continuing pressure on all elected officials, and the president. We should first start with our own black officials, but we should not stop there. We must send emails, and make phone calls to all elected officials and their color should not matter.

In every urban community in America, there is a need for organizational collaborations, and there should be job marches. It is clear that urban communities and black workers need special attention, and the squeaky or noisy wheel gets a response.

As the president prepares for his joint Congress speech on jobs, he must fight for outcomes that meet high expectations. Many in our community will be looking for actions that address and restore economic viability in the urban community.

Some of the ideas that are being discussed are tax-free zones to attract business investment in the urban communities. Also there should be training programs and funding to support the development of the work force for businesses who locate in urban communities. Finally, there is a need for public works projects to help rebuild the urban infrastructure, and provide jobs immediately.

President Obama has the power and opportunity to develop programs and initiatives to improve the unemployment numbers in the African-American community. It will take courage, innovation, and resolve, but he can make a difference.

As President Obama prepares for his re-election bid for 2012, his job performance numbers are slipping and sagging. This is the worst period for his job performance numbers, since he has been in office. In the Gallup polls his numbers for August are 42%, and in other polls there is a range from 40% to 45%.

U.S. Congress

The American citizens are extremely frustrated with all of the representatives in Congress and they are pointing their finger at every one of them as the problem. Many people in the country think that integrity and credibility no longer exist in politics. The people want to see a change and difference, and something they can believe in.

With the president’s numbers taking a nose dive and sliding, it is important that he starts to change the direction that his numbers are going. Based on history most incumbents win re-elections, because their job performance ratings are in the 50% or higher range. President George Bush was able to win with a 48% approval rating, but that is an exception, as opposed to the rule.

Polls show that voters hold both parties to blame for the fiasco with the political fight over raising the limit on U.S. borrowing, and the unprecedented downgrade of the country’s credit rating. They also are angry over the stunted economic recovery, and an unemployment rate stuck above 9%.

In President Obama’s weekly address he said, “You’ve got a right to be frustrated. I am, because you deserve better. I don’t think it’s too much for you to expect that the people you send to this town to start delivering. Some Republicans in Congress would rather see their opponents lose than see America win.”

There is a major divide in Congress and everyone is trying to figure out what is going on. The bickering and name calling is very disrespectful, but the Republican’s goal to make Obama a one term president is good politics. The Democrats and the president must expect the Republican candidates to go after their policies every chance they get.

former governor Jeb Bush

At this point the election is 15 months away, and the Republicans do not have a candidate that

Texas governor & GOP hopeful Rick Perry

they feel can beat the president. With Governor Rick Perry of Texas entering the race, and Ex-Governor Jeb Bush of Florida doing more talking to the media, the Republican candidates are improving.

It is time for the Democrats and the president to begin to mobilize the college, African American, Hispanic, Youth, and independent voters. In 2008, President Obama revolutionized campaigning with the use of social networking, and online organizing. With celebrities’ endorsements and specifically the use of Oprah Winfrey, the president was able to draw record crowds.

After two and a half years in Washington, it appears that the president has lost his magic, and the power in his belief of change. The first year in office, the president was a whirlwind of activity, and getting unprecedented bills passed in universal healthcare, appointing two Supreme Court Justices, reforming the financial industry, preventing the economy from collapsing, and bringing the war in Iraq to an end.

It is essential that progressives, independents, Democrats, and minorities began to have a legitimate discourse on President Obama’s record. Americans generally want immediate gratification, because we live in a microwave society. But in American political change is slow and there are major bureaucracies to transform, and reorganize.

Instead of spending so much time discussing what the president has not done, it is time to start talking about what he has accomplished. In order for the president to complete what he has started, he needs more vocal and print support. It is time to get behind the president and stand on his record.

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.

As the country braces for another presidential race in 2012, the Republicans are putting together a vicious strategy to keep President Obama from winning a second term. Many believe that the Republican Party and the Tea Party have mounted the most unified opposition to a president in history. But from my perspective, our country is engaged in the political democratic process, and our nation is practicing the system that makes us great.

Many in the country are extremely disgusted with Congress and the contentious bickering and gridlock that are a part of the political system. Every policy, every appointment, every speech, every foreign trip, and every meeting is scrutinized and challenged by the opposing party. We all would like to see more bipartisan, but the system is not set up that way.

There is a global transformation taking place in the world, and America made a transformation, when it elected the first African American president. This was a ground breaking achievement, and the history books will have to be rewritten. The ethnic group that was brought to this country to be slaves had evolved to become free educated people, and an African-American man has been elected to the highest position in the land.

All of the models of the past do not work, when the political pundits and experts try to come up with simple answers for the problems and crisis confronting America. Many would like the country to go back to the ‘good old days’, where political decisions were made by the ‘good old boy’ system. But everyone knows that President Obama is correct when he talks about winning the future through innovation, technology, and education.

Everywhere you turn in the country, every politician is talking about jobs, the economy, and unemployment. But America is not prepared or ready to transition to future technologies, transportation, infrastructure, energy and education.

Some of the 2012 GOP Candidates

Instead of the Republicans developing strategic plans for the future, they are stuck on gridlock, filibuster, and make sure nothing of substance passes the Congress. They will throw everything at President Obama, including the kitchen sink, and keep things at a standstill. They will criticize everything the president does, try to reverse what he has done, and spend millions of dollars to tell the country that he is a weak president.

As the country has lost its AAA credit rating, and the $14 trillion debt that we owe, the Republicans find it easy to point to the president, and say he is the problem. They can justify their assertion with 9% unemployment, stagnant economic growth, the destruction of the middle class, and the large numbers of poor people in the country. It is logical to blame the president on his watch, and many of his supporters are beginning to believe the Republican’s talking points.

At this point, the Republicans are having a problem with finding a candidate that can unify the party with a powerful message. Even though the Tea Party was prominent in the 2010 election, their message is too radical for a presidential election. In order to win the presidency, the Republicans must win a large percentage of the independent voters.

Everyone in the country is excited about the 2012 presidential election. The incumbent always has an advantage, because the media is always reporting on everything the president is doing. The United States elected a Black President for the first time in our history, and it is time for a national catharsis to heal the divisions in the country.

2012 Obama Campaign logo

A new American vision is needed in the election of 2012, and President must motivate and inspire the country that he is the man for the job. This new social contract will demand a new leadership mindset and I believe that President Obama is up.

Representative Doug Lamborn

Last week, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) sent a personal letter to President Obama apologizing for his use of the phrase “tar baby.” In his letter, he claims that he was attempting to verbalize his opinion that the President’s economic policies “have created a quagmire for the nation and are responsible for the dismal economic conditions our country faces.”

In a statement to The Denver Post, Lamborn had this to say: “I absolutely intended no offence, and if this is at all on his radar screen, I am sure that he will not take offence and he’ll be happy to accept my apology, because he is a man of character.” It appears that Lamborn thinks that the president will accept his apology, and his use of the term was not a big deal.

But all around the country, people are incensed and disturbed that a federal legislator would blatantly

Political radio host David Sirota

disrespect the office of the president publicly. David Sirota, AM 760 radio host said this in response to Lamborn’s “tar baby” remark: “The fact that a sitting member of the United States Congress would take to the airwaves to use such a racially derogatory term to describe the first African-American president in American history is disgusting.”

It is obvious that there is a pervasive sickness, which is prevalent in a certain group in the country, and they are not afraid to say in public what they say in private. This is creating an environment of disrespect and racist statements and actions are on the increase.

Also this week on the Al Sharpton radio show, Pat Buchanan, former GOP presidential candidate and current MSNBC analyst, referred to President Obama as “your boy.” Without a doubt this was disrespectful, but Mr. Buchanan said that he didn’t mean to slur President Obama by referring to him as “your boy” during a discussion with Al Sharpton. They were discussing Obama’s political strength when Buchanan said that “your boy” had caved in past negotiations, and was likely to do so in the future.

Al Sharpton and Pat Buchanan face off on the Al Sharpton show when Buchanan makes a derogatory statement

Sharpton responded, “MY what…My president, Barack Obama and what did you say?” At this point Al Sharpton was very angry and the interview continued to deteriorate. Again it was no justification for using this type of derogatory language, when referring to the president.

For some reason, when conservatives criticize the president, they feel they can use almost any kind of language and it is okay. Probably, when they are in private their language is nasty, and their friends say ugly things about the president. But in public, certain decorum is expected, when you are in a position of authority and respectability.

The White House has not made any official comments about Representative Lamborn and Mr. Buchanan’s statements. Many Americans will say that we all have a right to freedom of speech. This would justify Lamborn and Buchanan the right to say what they think and there is nothing that anyone can do.

Shawn J. Parry-Giles is an award-winning Professor in the Department of Communication, Director of Graduate Studies, and Director of the Center for Political Communication and Civic Leadership at the University of Maryland.

But I believe in protocol, and there are certain things that you do not say, because it is the right thing to do. I would be thoroughly disappointed if some reporter used the N word when referring to the president. Given that language is the purveyor of people’s deepest thoughts, as well as the fact that language use is often unconscious, “even a slip of the tongue can reflect the kind of prevalence of racism that still exist within our culture,” says Shawn Parry-Giles.

This week, there have been too many slips of the tongue by our leaders and the media. The race problem is still one of the major problems in the country, because the people in power are not willing to share with the people of color. President Obama was elected by the people, but many of our leaders are having problems calling him Mr. President.

U.S. Senate leadership

On the evening of July 31, 2011, the Senate and The House of Representatives have reached a tentative agreement. Ending a perilous stalemate, President Obama announced an agreement on Sunday night on a compromise that would avoid the nation’s first-ever financial default. The deal would cut more than $2 trillion from federal spending over a decade.

This agreement is tentative and the Congress must ratify the deal with a vote. No votes were expected in either house of Congress until Monday, to give rank and file lawmakers time to review the package. The framework of the deal would give the President a debt ceiling increase of up to $2.4 trillion, and guarantee an equal amount of deficit reduction over the next 10 years.

“Default would have had a devastating effect on our economy,” Obama said at the White House, relaying the news to the American people and financial market around the world. He thanked both the leaders of each party.  

After a tough week of meetings and negotiations, the House of Representatives, Senate leadership, and the president are able to feel good about their accomplishment. According to Democrats and Republican sources, here are the key elements of the deal. There is still work to be done and the leaders of both parties are rounding up votes for the deal.

The debt ceiling increase tentatively would be around $2.1 trillion and the spending cuts would be equal to increase over 10 years. The formation of a special Congressional committee to recommend further deficit reductions that may take the form of spending cuts or tax increases. The special committee must make recommendations by late November, before the Thanksgiving recess.

Congress must also approve those cuts by December 23, or automotive cuts across the board go into effect, including cuts to federal defense programs and Medicare. This trigger is designed to force action on the deficit reduction committee’s recommendations to both Democrats and Republicans. There would also be a vote in both houses on a balanced budget amendment.

As the Congress gets down to the 11th hour, the two houses are close to a deal. During President Bush’s eight years the debt limit was raised 19 times, without the fuss and fight of this Congress. When Bush took office the debt limit was $5.95 trillion, and when he left it was $9.81 trillion.

Top Aide to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett

President Obama has been deeply involved in trying to win a debt deal that both parties find agreeable and can work with. “He’s getting absolutely no sleep. He’s working tirelessly, meeting with his economic team, doing a lot of outreach, exploring all kinds of possibilities for compromise,” top Obama aide Valerie Jarrett told Reuters Insider. This has translated into even longer days than normal at the White House, which already begins with a senior staff meeting at 7:30 am in the morning.

It appears that all the hard work has paid off for President Obama, and his administration. It is still too early to relax, but all the leaders are announcing that a deal has been struck. Democrats won’t like the fact that Medicare could be exposed to automatic cuts, but the sizes of the Medicare cuts are limited. They are designed to be taken from Medicare providers, and not beneficiaries.

Finally, the House of Representatives and the Senate are starting to compromise, and do what is best for the citizens of the country. Somehow President Obama must make bipartisan a reality in Washington, and get the two parties to cooperate, and work together. Making decisions together that improve and enhance the country is the job of our representatives.   

President Obama gets tough on Republicans concerning Debt Limit …by Roger Caldwell.

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.