Category: Jobs


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.

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.

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.

WHEN TIMES WERE GOOD: Dr. Cornel West & President Obama during 2008 campaign

As President Obama is gearing up for his 2012 campaign and election, Dr. Cornel West has created a name calling and mudslinging crusade attacking the president. There is nothing wrong with a valid discussion about how the president can improve his polices as it relates to poor people and Black people. But to turn the discussion into a circus and shouting match with other esteemed African American leaders, makes our community appear elementary and silly.

 

Dr. Cornel West, professor of African-American studies at Princeton University

Dr. Cornel West is a respected scholar and author, who is a

Political & celebrity media giant Tavis Smiley & Dr. West

African-American Studies professor in Princeton University’s Department of Religion, and has also taught at Harvard. His credentials are impeccable, and the educated intelligentsia in the African American community respects his volumes of work. He is considered a leader on race relations in America, and he is in great demand in mainstream media for his thoughts and theories.

During President Obama’s first campaign, Dr. West was involved in over 60 campaign events supporting the president. But once President Obama was elected, there was an ideological divide between the president and Dr. West. This problem was exasperated when Dr. West did not receive tickets to the Presidential Inauguration, and the president did not appear at a Tavis Smiley event during the campaign.

 

Once the president was in office, it appeared that there was a disconnect between Dr. West and the president, and things between the two got worse. Dr. West has consistently announced to the media that he is profoundly disappointed with President Obama’s policies. He has also questioned the president’s backbone, moral consistency, and fairness to working and poor people.

Many scholars, mainstream and Black agree with Dr. West’s attacks on the president for not launching an aggressive plan on poverty and jobs. With over 90% of Blacks who voted for President Obama in the first election, a large percentage feels that the president could have done more for the African American community.

Nevertheless, it appears that Dr. West has a personal vendetta against the president and his administration. He is constantly calling the president a technocrat, and asking what does he stand for. Dr. West does acknowledge that President Obama is better than John McCain, but the rest of the discussion appears to be negative.

From my personal standpoint, Dr. West is not wrong when he criticizes the president, but it is necessary to present a balanced discussion, which does not degenerate into name calling and mudslinging. The media has accepted Dr. West as a legitimate leader and spokesman for Black political thought. Spending his time criticizing and tearing down the president’s policies could force the independents and the different minorities to not vote in 2012.

NAACP president Benjamin Jealous

Reverend Al Sharpton

Political leader and radio personality Dr. Boyce Watkins

 
 

 

 

 

It is time for Dr. West, Rev. Al Sharpton, NAACP, Urban League, Black politicians, Black media personalities, business and community leaders, Dr. Boyce Watkins, and other scholars to get behind closed doors, resolve their differences, and develop a Black political agenda for 2012. This agenda must be comprehensive and address the core and fundamental problems that impact our community.

Dr. West at BET Hip Hop Awards show in 2007

Shouting, name calling, and mudslinging makes us look unprofessional, silly, and elementary. President Obama is not confined to working people or Black people, but must include all classes and segments of the population. He has a responsibility to the military, Wall Street, the middle class, international corporations, as well as the man on the street.

The 2012 election will be here very quickly, and now is the time to get organized and mobilized for the campaign. Dr. West was has the opportunity and the ability to help mobilize the poor and minority community to support the President for re-election. Moving beyond derogatory rhetoric will improve the image of President Obama, and help get him elected to a second term.

 

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.

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