Category: partnership


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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.   

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.

 

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.

Congressional Black Caucus

In the past few weeks, there appears to be some turbulence in the relationship between the President Obama and the (CBC) Congressional Black Caucus. Many of our congressional leaders, and political spokespersons felt the president was not concerned with African Americans or forgot we had special issues and problems.

Based on the present unemployment numbers for Blacks at 16%, and the national unemployment numbers stand at 9%, there is a crisis in our community. In certain cities, the unemployment numbers for African American men is over 50%, and there are no jobs or businesses in the community. It is obvious that the economic recovery has missed these communities, and the president refused to address these problems.

It was also in the news that the president and his advisors had canceled meetings with the CBC, and the relationship was strained with the 43-member organization. There was a need for the president and the CBC to sit down and clear the air, and work on having a better relationship.

Last week President Obama had a meeting with the CBC in the State Dining Room of the White House. The focus of the meeting was to discuss job creation, economic growth, and unveil a plan to help young people find jobs for low-income youth. He also introduced a plan for “Growth Zones”, designed to give tax incentives for investments in economically distressed areas.

A majority of the members of CBC represent residents who live in these kinds of communities and they need special help. The CBC has long complained that the president was not addressing their core problems and had negotiated away funding for key social programs. With the unemployment numbers for Blacks at almost 50% more than the national average, the CBC was frustrated with the president and his administration.

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, head of the CBC

Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), chairman of the caucus, insisted that the organization’s relationship with the president is strong. “We want nothing more than to see the president succeed. No good solid relationship is devoid of disagreements. We look forward to building upon our strong relationship.”

The White House insists President Obama has not forgotten the problems that confront African American residents. In meeting with the CBC, the president is making sure the lines of communication with the CBC are open. The president is also aware that 80% of African Americans support his administration.

Very rarely has many Blacks heard the president talk about the African American community and poor people. The president always talks about the middle class and it appears that his target is Middle America. As the 2012 election gets closer, it will be important and essential to include all the races, with a special focus on African Americans and Hispanics.

The nation’s economic recovery missed the African American community, and it will take more targeted investments to move the needle. Money must be spent on education and economic development in the Black community. It will take more than talk, because there is a need for tangible programs that invest and modernize distressed communities.

With the Republicans in control of the House, a battle is brewing, and no one can predict the outcome. The president has taken a positive step by sitting down with the CBC to clear the air and present new programs. The programs will only get so far without proper funding.

The African American community has given and given when the president needed extraordinary support. It is time that the president gives extra support to the African American community with job creation and special investments for expanding small businesses.

America is struggling with paying its bills because we are deep in debt. Our politicians have done a terrible job when it comes to balancing the budget. Somehow our priorities are on war and no one really knows what we are spending or who we are fighting.

President Obama speaking at George Washington University

On Wednesday, April 13 at George Washington University, President Obama laid out his plan to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years. Some political pundits and experts think he has an excellent plan, and others think the plan is light on details with very little substance.

There is no doubt that this speech and plan was a response to the House Republicans, who have created a plan to cut the deficit by $4 trillion. President Obama repeatedly attacked the budget released by the House Republicans last week in a sharp partisan tone. It appears that President Obama is drawing a line in the sand and he is preparing for a fight.

President Obama is not comfortable with the cuts that House Republicans are proposing and he is speaking up about what he does not like about their plan. “These are not the kind of cuts that the fiscal commission proposed. These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America that I believe in, and I think you believe in,” said President Obama.

Bipartisan CommissionThere are 4 key areas which President Obama will focus on, based on research from a Bi-partisan Commission. The first area would be keeping domestic spending low, the second  making cuts to the Pentagon, the third healthcare savings in  Medicare and Medicaid and the fourth taxing the higher level income Americans.

President Obama did not say how he would initiate these changes and there was already push back from the Republicans about additional taxes on the wealthy. He also did not expound on which defense programs he would cut, and how he would achieve a simpler tax system. Nevertheless the Bipartisan Commission findings and suggestions in many Washington political circles made sense.

Stan Collender, budget expert

“Mathematically, the Bipartisan Commission apparently works,”said Stan Collender, a former Democratic House and budget analyst. “Politically, it is going to have a lot of trouble getting support from more than just the members of the commission.”

The speech that President Obama made on Wednesday showed that he has backbone and he is willing to confront the Republicans. His debt reduction plan is a political step in the right direction. “Doing nothing on the deficit is just not an option. Our debt has grown so large that we could do real damage to the economy, if we don’t begin a process now to get our fiscal hose in order,” said the president.

With this speech, President Obama was focused on reaching the Democratic base and the independents. It is important that the president increases his base, because his administration in the coming months must increase the federal government debt ceiling.

No matter what side of the aisle you are on, everyone can agree that we have to begin to stop the bleeding and pay our bills. With 66% of our budget controlled by Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Defense, we can not only cut from the other 34%. The Republicans and the Democrats will have to agree and work together to preserve the American dream for future generations.

For Americans to believe and trust in President Obama, there is a need for a balanced budget and the creation of hundreds of thousands new jobs. It is time for the president to be transparent with the budget and take control of entitlements. There is no way we can balance a budget and fight three wars around the world.

Senate Leader Harry Reid

In Washington, there is political theatrics controlling the Congress, and every politician wants to be on the news. Everyone is playing games and they know that they are not doing their job. The President ran on a platform of change and the expectation level in the country was incredible.

America was ready for fundamental changes in Washington, and President Obama initially was a politician that progressive citizens could believe. He started his term with a majority of Democrats in the Senate and the Congress, and he got passed over 60 bills. He was able to get the Healthcare Reform Bill passed that other presidents had tried but failed.

President Obama’s polls approval rating initially was in the high sixties into low seventies. Minority communities’ approval rating for the president was in the nineties. But as the euphoric honeymoon began to dissipate into reality, we found many of the problems with the Obama administration were the same as other administrations.

The political fights between the Republicans and the Democrats were the same, but in President Obama’s administration they were a little meaner and nastier. With the emergence of the Tea Party, a new ideology was initiated that wanted a smaller federal government and were extremely conservative.

President Obama and the Democratic Party underestimated the influence and the political clout of

Tea Party

 the power of the Tea party movement. It is a loosely organized nationalized movement, which is the mobilized radical arm of the Republican Party. They are dissatisfied with the direction the country is going and they are angry.

With the country $14 trillion in debt, and every state treasury in debt, the Tea Party is correct when they say the Congress needs to balance its books and control spending. The problem with the Tea Party is they want to go backward as opposed to forward. Much of their ideology is based on state’s rights, American supremacy, and the good old-boy’s system.

Nevertheless, without a doubt the Tea Party members are a major impediment, and they make it harder to get the federal budget passed. They are a divisive force, and with the election of 2010, the new 85 Republican House members are connected to the Tea Party.

But all the blame for not getting the 2010 budget passed can be blamed on the Republicans and the Tea Party. When the Democrats had a majority in both Houses, they still could not get the budget passed. Somewhere there appears to be a problem with leadership, or planning in the party. If the Speaker of the House and the leader of the Senate are both Democrats, they should be able to agree on a budget, and get it passed.

This week the government shutdown was averted with a late night deal right before the deadline. Even though the shutdown was avoided this fight was over peanuts, because the debate over the 2011 budget will soon start. With a divided Congress, who doesn’t like each other, there will probably be a major fight within the parties, and against each party.

John Boehner, Speaker of the House and Harry Reid, Senator Leader met President Obama four times in one week to finally come up with a deal. John Boehner says, “The president is not leading. He didn’t lead on last year’s budget, and he clearly is not leading on this year’s budget.”

President Obama meets with his aides

At times President Obama is not engaged and he leaves certain projects and initiatives in the hands of his administrators. It appears the president’s strategy is to remain behind the scenes and let his aides do the negotiating. No longer can the president let his aides do the negotiating.

The president must be engaged from the very beginning and be the leader of his team. Our government needs the president to get vocal, get serious, and demand results.             

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.