Category: main street


“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.

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

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.

Parliament building for the Canadian government

The jury is still out, if the $80 billion bailout from the federal government for General Motors and Chrysler saved the auto industry. Chrysler is repaying $5.9 billion in U.S. loans, and a $1.7 billion loan to the Canadian government. The company has been bought by Fiat, the Italian company, and the U.S. government will lose around $1.4 billion in the bankruptcy deal.

 

 

General Motors who also went through bankruptcy, received $49 billion from the federal government. The vast bulk of the bailout money was $6.7 billion in pure loan, and 60% equity stake in the company. The Canadian government gave GM $1.4 billion as pure loan, and another $8.1 billion for an 11.7 percent in equity holding. The U.S. and Canadian government initially together owned 72% of the company.

In the last weeks, the Obama administration has announced that GM and Chrysler have paid back their loans to the federal government and they will loss only $14 billion. It is very strange that these two companies are able to pay back a loan and either company has broken even or made a profit.

It is obvious that the federal government and the two automobile companies are doing some creative accounting to make the numbers work. Without a company making a profit, it is very difficult for it to pay back a loan, unless they were given more money in another deal.

GM was able to pay a loan off ahead of schedule, because the Obama administration gave the company and additional $13.4 billion as “working capital.” There were no stipulations on how they could spend the money. GM used the money to pay back the U.S. and the Canadian government with “working capital” money.

In other words, GM is using government money to pay back government money to get more government money. President Obama and his administration is celebrating the auto companies for doing a good job with the bailout loans, but the government is giving them more bailout money.

The government is not being transparent with its information, when they tell the public that the two auto companies are paying back their loans. Both of the companies were bankrupted and the government is using taxpayer’s tax money to prop and financially support the companies. The government is digging a deep hole, and they are only telling half of the story.

The government has sold Chrysler to Fiat and the Italian automaker now controls 52% of the stock. The rest of the stock is owned by United Auto Workers, and there are no guarantees that this partnership will be successful. But at this point the U.S. can wash its hands of this financial nightmare.

GM is a bigger headache because the government still owns about 23% of the stock, and the loan was paid

U.S. Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner

by other government money. U.S. Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner says, “Today, America automakers are mounting one of the most improbable turnarounds in recent history – creating new jobs and making investments in communities across our country.”

This is a great statement, but either one of the auto companies have broke even up to this point. Paying off government loans with more government money is deceitful and eventually there will be a major financial problem.

Losing $14 billion on any loan is a terrible deal. Knowing that the loan was paid with more government money makes the auto bailout a worst deal, which could put our economy back into a recession. Without any earning or profits, there should be no celebration and announcement of a historic turnaround in the auto industry.

There are defining moments in each president’s term of office. The death of

President Obama

Osama bin Laden may become the most important incident that President Obama has done as the leader of America. This successful mission has given Americans the opportunity to be patriotic and believe in the president.

There will always be a debate on what happened to the body and why was it buried at sea? There will always be the non-believers who don’t believe that Osama bin Laden was a real person, and news of his death was a fabrication of facts and information.

Mitt Romney

But for the millions of Americans who feel they have been vindicated by Bin Laden’s death are able to celebrate with other citizens. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney called it “a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere, and praised our intelligence community, and military, and the president.”

President Obama’s poll numbers have increased by 10%, and he is being congratulated by many of his enemies. This is a great time for his presidency and he has changed the national narrative into a positive discourse about our strengths as a nation. The president is now thought of as a powerful commander-in-chief, who is under control and can fulfill his promises.

In 2008 during the presidential campaign, Obama promised to bring the troops home from Iraq, and

Al Queda

pledged to pursue Bin Laden until he was caught. “We will kill Bin Laden. We will crush Al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority,” said Obama in an October 2008 debate during the campaign.

The president’s track record has been based on transparency, integrity, and credibility, and with the killing of Bin Laden, it is hard not to trust the president. Even Al Qaeda has publicly issued a statement that Bin Laden is dead. They have confirmed the information from President Obama that he is dead.

President Obama could not have better timing with his announcement on last Sunday. The president will benefit from a new wave of patriotic sentiment, as he begins to campaign for his re-election for 2012. President Obama was able to accomplish the mission of the death of Bin Laden in 2 ½ years, when President Bush had tried to complete it, in 8 years, but was unsuccessful.

Rush Limbaugh

Even Rush Limbaugh said, “Thank God for President Obama,” and he was always condemning everything the president proposed. Many in the opposition party, who are diehard Republicans are acknowledging a job well done. They are being forced to concede that the president is not weak, and he has the ability to protect American citizens.

As the entire country celebrates the death of Bin Laden, it is necessary for our leaders to re-evaluate our foreign policy. For the past 10 years, our country spent $400 billion dollars to track down and kill someone, who at one time was a friend and ally. There is some thing fundamentally wrong with our foreign policy when our enemy is living in a country that claims to be our friend.

The killing of Bin Laden closes a chapter on the war of terror, but it does not end the insanity of global killing and war. Our president was able to get the job done with 2 helicopters, 40 navy seals, and great intelligence. But our president is spending trillions of dollars around the world, and we are not sure who we are fighting.

Life at this moment is good in the White House, and many citizens are proud to be Americans. But America needs a foreign policy, where there is less violence and less of an over-use of military power.

President Obama

 The Democrats and the Republicans are on different sides of the fence, and neither party has a plan to reduce federal deficits, balance the budget, and cut spending. The Republicans in the House want to cut $61 billion to fund the government thru September 2011, and the Democrats in the Senate want to cut around $10 billion.

There is a huge gap between what the Republicans want to cut, and what the Democrats are willing to cut. The two parties were able to work out a deal to keep the federal government running until March 18, 2011. This Continuing Resolution included $4.1 billion in cuts, with $650 million from the highway, $468 million from Department of Education, and the rest from programs that were going to be cut by the president in his 2012 budget.

“I’m pleased that Democrats and Republicans in Congress came together and passed a plan that will cut spending and keep the government running for the next two weeks,” said President Obama. He also stated, “we cannot keep doing business this way. Living with the threat of a shutdown every few weeks is not responsible, and it puts our economic progress in jeopardy.”

Both parties in the two Houses have an agenda and there is little room for compromise. As our leaders continue to operate the government with the threat of a shutdown, everyone is operating from an emergency mindset. Everyone is stressed and many of the plans and policies at this point are not well thought out.

In all probability, the two parties will pass another short term Continuing Resolution before the March 18, 2011 deadline, but still there is no movement on the $61 billion cuts that the House has agreed on. Somewhere in this bureaucratic mess, there is a need for leadership and direction from the president.

Michael Petit: president of Every Child Matters

The majority of the cuts that the Republicans are proposing in the House impact government social programs, children, youth, the poor, and families. Michael Petit, president of the Every Child Matters Education Fund, said: “Even before the House adopted its shortsighted budget; the United States was far behind most other developed nations in caring for children. To further shred our nation’s already frayed safety net with additional cuts to babies and mothers are unacceptable.”

The cuts that the Republicans in the House are proposing will cripple our country’s most vulnerable group of citizens and will attack social programs. Some of the programs that will be impacted if the Democrats in the Senate agree to the cuts by Republicans would be as follows: Head Start cut by $1.1 billion, Maternal and Child Health Block Grant cut by $50 million, School Health Clinics cut by $380 million, Low Income Heating Assistance Program cut by $390 million, Pell Grant Program cut by $5.7 billion, and other Block Grants cut by $55 million.

There appears to be an all out assault on our children, youth, and mothers and we hear very little from the president. The president has stated that he would not sign a bill that harms our children, but how far will he go to appease the radical arm of the Republicans?

President Obama is still talking compromise and bipartisan, but the Republicans in the House are pushing their agenda. The stage has been set and everyone is waiting for leadership from the president. He is always talking about shared responsibility, but the social programs are for the citizens who have barely anything.

It is time for President Obama to take a stand and protect the social programs that many of the citizens need. As the president takes a stand, more citizens will also take a stand and support the president’s initiatives. There are other ways to save money, than cutting programs that hurt children, youth, mothers and the poor.

Congress in session

Everywhere you go in the United States, you hear people talking about making the federal government smaller. Many conservatives are considering revolting against the federal government and making the states more powerful.

Even in the state of Florida, our governor is refusing money from the federal government to build high speed rail. Our governor believes that our state could end up owing the entire $2.4 billion back to the government, if there are problems with the construction and the project is not completed. Based on his studies, there are too many “ifs and maybes” to risk the taxpayer’s hard earned money and resources.

Many governors in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Ohio, and Florida have decided that they will solve their own problems with limited interference from the federal government. Many of these states are controlled by conservative legislatures and governors, and they want to limit union intervention, and collective bargaining. They believe that they have a mandate from the people, and the same philosophy is prevalent with Republicans in the federal Congress.

These Republicans in the Congress are conservative, and believe that they were sent to Washington with a mission. Their goal is to cut spending and help to shrink the federal government. Even though the budget was $3.1 trillion when Bush was president, they want to turn back the hands of time.

The Republicans argue with the Democrats, and the Democrats argue with the Republicans over $100 billion in cuts. Both parties know that $100 billion is a small percentage of the budget, and they are fighting over peanuts. When the proposed budget for 2012 is $3.7 trillion, and the deficit is $1.3 trillion, there are other fundamental problems with balancing our federal budget.

Our country continues to fight one major war that is costing on the average, $9 billion a month and we are also dumping around $5 billion a month in Iraq, and there is no telling what the expense to keep bases around the world.  It is obvious fighting wars that we can not win is a terrible strategy, and a drain on our resources and funds.

Somewhere in President Obama campaign and the reality of Washington, our country is caught between a rock and a hard place. Cutting social programs for the poor, minorities, women, children and the elderly is no way to run the richest country on earth. Our politicians are looking in the wrong places to cut expenses.

President Obama

President Obama was right when he stated that the rich 2% of our population needs to pay more taxes, because of our deficits, and they can afford it. By the same token, our international corporations and conglomerates can afford to pay more taxes. The middle class, the poor, and the small businesses should receive a break on taxes.

It is time for the president to take a position and establish his leadership role in the Congress, and with the conservative governors around the country. The president must take the initiative and establish where the right places to make the cuts in his budget. Shutting down some of the military bases around the world could save our country billions.

Our country could save billions by stopping policing the world and stop financing corrupt governments who we want to be our friends. Finally, we should stop fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and redirect the savings to balance our budget, and improve our infrastructure.

Many of the cuts that Republicans and the Democrats are making are for show. If they are serious about balancing our budget, they will help end the wars, and tax the people and the corporations in the country who can afford to pay.

At the present time, the 2011 budget has not been signed by the president, because both Houses cannot agree on spending cuts and what to fund. As a result, our government is operating on a continuing resolution that comes to an end on March 4, 2011.

Speaking at an event

Dick Morris, political author and commentator

Many conservatives in the country believe that in order to get President Obama’s attention that the Republicans should force a shutdown over health care funding. The ultra-conservative Republicans want the size of government reduced and they are wiling to try different tactics to make this a reality. “There’s going to be a government shutdown, just like in 1995 and 1996, but we’re going to win it this time,” said Dick Morris at the American for Prosperity Foundation Conference.

Conservatives have taken the position that the deficits and recession are a result of Democratic policies and they are holding the Obama administration as the culprits. The conservative Republicans believe that they have a mandate from the American people to stop spending money and slash government spending by tens of billions of dollars.

Recently, the Republicans in the House voted to cut $61 billion in federal spending this year from the budget. This is setting up for a budget confrontation, between the Democrat-controlled Senate over the 2011 budget. Senate Democrats have made it clear that they are not willing to accept the $61 billion cuts that the Republican House has proposed.

“Read my lips: We’re going to cut spending,” House Speaker John Boehner, told reporters

Speaker of the House

 last week when announcing he won’t accept a short-term extension without some spending reductions. It appears that the House Republicans are drawing a line in the sand and they are refusing to budge.

As the Congress gets closer to the March 4, 2011 deadline, the two sides will have to make concessions if they plan to keep the government running. If the government was to shutdown, it would halt military pay, veterans’ benefits, Social Security checks, and government functions such as food-safety inspections. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has introduced a temporary spending measure to keep government agencies running through March 31, and buy time for talks.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi

Many political experts and pundits expected in the 112th Congress that there would be gridlock with the new conservative Republicans elected in the mid-term elections. These Republicans want to eliminate 100 social programs and cut funding for 100 more. The cuts would impact programs in education, environment, health care, energy, science, the Peace Corps, and the Social Security Administration.

The Obama administration has not responded or established their position on the cuts. It is very early in the debate over the cuts, but leaks from the White House are the cuts could hurt the recovering economy. Many also believe that the cuts are too much too soon and they could cause a lost of jobs.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is urging Republicans to negotiate a compromise. “Now that House Republicans have gotten this vote out of their system, I hope they will drop the threats of shutting down the government and work with the Senate on responsible cuts that allow our nation’s economic recovery to continue,” said Reid.

Harry Reid, Senate majority leader

This issue is not going away, because everyone is passionate about their philosophy and mindset. There is validity in both side’s positions, and everyone is pointing a finger at each other. Collaboration and compromise is the way to come to an agreement, but very few are willing to give in.

The government shutdown is possible if both sides refuse to budge. Nobody wins and millions will be hurt in the process if the government shuts down.

President Obama

 Today, February 14, 2011, President Obama will present his 2012 budget to Congress. He has labeled this budget as a “middle ground”, where there are areas for investing, and specific areas will things will be cut.

There will be hard decisions that the president will have to make, because everyone in the country will be forced to make adjustments and sacrifice.

The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but it embodies the values, priorities, and aspirations of the president and his administration. President Obama has promised spending cuts that are an expression of “shared sacrifice” needed to balance a $1.3 trillion budget deficit.

The nation has projected deficits over the next decade of $12.5 trillion, so at this point our budget is in the red. It is important that the president’s budget begins to put our country on a path of sustainability, and we stop spending money that is not in the bank.

This year the president is presenting his budget, and it is expected that it will be in the area of $3.6 trillion. The president has pledged that the 2012 budget would help the United States, “live within our means while investing in our future.” Many of the political pundits interpret the term investing with spending money, and funding programs that keep our country in debt.

Nevertheless, the president will call for a five year spending freeze and no pay raises for federal workers. He will target social programs, including cuts to a home heating assistance program for low income households. He also proposes reduction in the popular Community Development Block Grant programs, and in funds for community action grants.

It is obvious that this year, President Obama has a divided Congress and he will be forced to negotiate with the Republicans in the House, who believe that the cuts don’t go far enough. The president made it clear in the State of the Union address that he wants to work with Congress with our country’s short-term and long-term fiscal challenges.

As the president said in his State of the Union address, “Now that the country is back from the brink of a potential economic collapse, our goal is to win the future by out-educating, out building, and out innovating our rivals so that we can return to robust economic and job growth.” This will not be easy, because in the inner cities the unemployment rate is anywhere in the 35% to 50% range.

Everywhere you look around the country everyone is talking about cutting programs as opposed to expanding programs. Many of these programs that are being cut impact the basic needs and necessities in poor communities. With a $1.3 trillion budget deficit, everyone will be forced to make “shared sacrifices” and it will impact everyone.

Once the budget is presented that is only the first step. Now 40 congressional committees and 24 subcommittees will debate and hold hearings on what is feasible. Some of the president’s proposals will be accepted, some will be thrown out, and others will be compromised on. The process is exhausting, and once both houses can agree, it is sent to the president for his signature.

If everything goes according to schedule and goes well, the formal federal budget for 2012 is signed by the president and goes into effect October 1, 2011. If all doesn’t go according to plan, Congress will pass a temporary spending measure known as a continuing resolution to continue funding on September 30th.

This year, Congress did not agree so the government has been running on a series of short-term continuing resolutions. Now Congress will be forced to debate another budget and the 2011 budget has not been formalized. All we can hope is that Congress can agree on something.        

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