Category: Hispanic


President Obama has signed three free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. Free trade agreements are important in America, because it opens new markets, and it creates jobs in our country. These trade agreements were started by President Bush, and President Obama completed the deal after he was sure that American workers were protected, and environmental practices were followed.

Many believe that this free trade agreement is as important as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA is one of the most successful trade agreements in history, and has contributed to increasing trade and investments between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. The goal of NAFTA was to eliminate barriers to trade and investments, and eliminate most of the tariffs.

As a result of NAFTA, Mexico and Canada are the first and second largest export markets for United States agricultural products. This free trade agreement has benefited farmers, ranchers, investors, and consumers.

Trade will not go away as an issue with the Obama administration. These three new trade agreements will bring the number to 20 countries that have free trade agreements with the United States. The Republicans wants the president to be more aggressive in finding more free trade deals with other countries.

“From day one the guiding principle has been not just to complete the three trade agreements, but to develop a new paradigm for trade, and rebuild and restore America’s confidence in our trading policy. The administration is on track to reach Obama goal set early last year of doubling US exports over a five-year period,” said US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Trade agreements have always been a tricky business because you always want to do business with a friend, but that is not always the case. In many countries around the world, they levy high tariffs on US goods, and Americans allow them to ship their goods to our country with few or no duties. Many countries are trying to control their economy and keep American products out of their markets.

Nevertheless, supporters say these three deals are a winning proposition for American businessmen and farmers, who face high tariffs in these three countries. The deal in South Korea could boost exports by $10 billion and increase exports in Colombia by $1 billion. Many of the experts think that these three deals can create 70,000 jobs for Americans.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “Overall, these agreements are a win for the American economy, they mean higher incomes for farmers and ranchers, more opportunities for small business owners, and jobs for folks who package, ship, and market agricultural products.”

President Obama is also getting applause from other industries. The following statement is attributable to the president Gary Shapiro of The Consumer Electronics Association.

“The Congress passage and now Presidential signing of these free trade agreements is the first major action in five years on free trade. It tells the world that the US is back in business and wants to remain a global player. Enacting these three agreements will strengthen our economy. Free trade has helped foster a high-tech boom, created more than 25 million jobs during the past 15 years, and increased real wages for U.S. workers.”

As President Obama continues with his plan to increase jobs for American citizens, he will have to reduce high tariffs in other countries, which will help American businesses large and small. Signing a bill is only the first step in implementing the trade agreement. Working together and ensuring compliance from the three countries will help improve the trade deficit, and keep the U.S. economy strong.

“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.

3 Presidents, no solution: NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, President Obama, and National Urban Leage Marc Morial

On Thursday July 21, 2011, President Obama held a meeting at the White House, with NAACP president Benjamin Jealous, and National Urban League president Marc Morial. These are the two oldest and largest Black organizations in the country. The purpose and goal of the meeting was vague, but the leaders had an opportunity to share their opinions on a variety of subjects with the president.

The meeting lasted for about 30 minutes to an hour, and President Obama reiterated that reducing unemployment, which disproportionately burdens the African-American community, remained a top priority for him and his administration. It is important that the president has acknowledged that there is a crisis in unemployment in the Black community, and his administration is willing to confront the problem.

Presidents Morial and Jealous

On July 17, 2011, Marc Morial said on NBC’s Meet the Press, “We have a job crisis in America, and the nation needs a job plan. We have 14 million out of work. The Black unemployment rate is at stifling levels. It’s in fact, increased since the recovery has been begun.”

In June 2009, the unemployment rate for African-Americans was 14.9% and in June this year,

 the rate is 16.2%. White unemployment has dropped from 8.7% to 8.1%, and the Hispanic rate has dropped from 12.2% to 11.6%. Also the Asian rate has dropped from 8.2% to 6.8%.

Marc Morial has pointed out that certain segments in the Black labor force showed even higher rates of unemployment. The most recent unemployment rate for Blacks between the ages of 16 and 24 years was 31.4%. In certain cities, the unemployment rate for Black men is over 50%.

 

Representative Emmanuel Cleaver

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus recently publicly accused the Obama administration of failing to adequately address a veritable epidemic of African-American unemployment. “Can you imagine a situation where any other group of workers, if 34% of white women were out there looking for work and couldn’t find it? There would be rallies, congressional hearings, and protest marches; there is no way that would be allowed to stand,” says Representative Emanuel Cleaver, a Missouri Democrat.

The Congressional Black Caucus has introduced many different bills to attack Black unemployment rates. Debates about Black unemployment persist, but the Obama administration has focused on broad based initiatives aimed at lowering unemployment in general. It appears that the Obama administration needs a specific plan to address Black unemployment.

At the meeting with Morial and Jealous, the president discussed the efforts his administration  has made to address urban economic development through initiatives such as Strong Cities and Strong Communities. These programs act to spur economic growth in urban centers while ensuring taxpayer dollars are used wisely and efficiently.

Morial and Jealous shared their ideas with President Obama for resolving high unemployment in the Black community. The leaders say the president indicated he was willing to consider some of their ideas about job creation and employment discrimination when he is done with the debt crisis.

The two leaders also discussed with the president their opinions on the debt reduction plan. “We emphasized that no steps should be taken that gonna cost this nation jobs. No steps should be taken that’s gonna force vulnerable Americans to pay the cost of a debt reduction plan,” Morial said of the meeting. He said the president nodded his head in agreement.

It is significant that President Obama is taking time out to access and discuss the mood of the African American community. But the wheels of the federal political machine turn slowly and take time. It is important that our political leaders and Congressional Black Caucus continue to apply pressure to the White House, and mobilize the different state, local, and community Black political organizations.

President Obama speaks at the first White House Hispanic Policy Conference

On July 11 &12th, President Obama and his administration held the first-ever “Hispanic Policy Conference.” It was organized by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. Attending the conference were 160 Hispanic leaders from 25 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico, joined by over 100 administration officials to discuss the President’s agenda and its impact on their overall community.

In the last census, it was established that there are 54 million Hispanics in the country. The Hispanic community is no longer found in a handful of states, but in every state across the country. It is the largest and fastest growing minority group and critical to the future of our nation.

The purpose of the conference was three-fold: Relationship Building – connecting national leaders to key

Breakout session 4 at policy conference

administration decision makers; “Obama Administration 101” – ensuring folks gained a deeper understanding of the multifaceted ways this administration’s agenda connects to the Hispanic community; and Working Together – allowing participants to connect with each other and administration officials to address how they would improve access and outcomes for this community.

During the two-day conference, there were interactive, informal, small group conversations driven by the Hispanic leaders and not administration officials. There were no lectures, no power point presentations, or talking points led by administration officials. This was an opportunity for Hispanic leaders to meet, talk, and initiate relationships with 35 administration officials and 19 White House office and cabinet agencies.

This was an extremely innovative approach to reach out to the largest minority group in the country. At the end of the first day, President Obama spoke and urged all the participants to take the conversation back to their communities.

 

 
 
 
 
 
In 2012, the Hispanic community will play a pivotal role in the president’s re-election campaign. Now is the time for the president to connect to the Hispanic community and understand the nuances that make their culture different. This conference was a breaking of the ice, and now the administration is getting to know who the power brokers are in the Hispanic community.
 
There will always be a language barrier in the Hispanic community, because most Americans do not speak Spanish. There is also an immigration dilemma in the Hispanic community that the Obama administration will be forced to address. Nevertheless, these initial steps make it easier to build a political infrastructure, which focuses on their community’s needs.

Black leaders meet with Obama at White House

As the Obama Administration continues to reach out to other minority groups, the question must be asked, “When will the White House specifically reach out to the Black community?” Many of the same problems in the Hispanic community can also be found in the African American community. There is a need for the African-American community to request or demand their own policy or agenda conference.

There is still reluctance for the President to specifically identify and address Black problems and initiatives. The Black community and leaders are more involved in family feuds and bickering, than reaching out to the unmet needs in our community.

The key message in the Hispanic community is that it is not a monolithic community with a diversity of issues and problems. Jobs, education, health care and the economy are the most important challenges impacting the Hispanic community.

If the White House is able to hold a Hispanic Policy Conference, then it also has a responsibility to hold an African-American Policy Conference. Our leaders and representatives should request and petition the White House and President Obama for a policy conference of our own.