Tag Archive: majority


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.

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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.

 

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.             

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.

The leaders of the 111th session of Congress are working at a feverish pace to complete unfinished business and bills. Many of the lawmakers are well aware that they will not be back, so they are leaving their legacy: be it bad or good. The Democrats have from the beginning had an agenda and a strategy, and time is running out.

Senator Harry Reid, Democratic Senate Majority leader

Senator Harry Reid has threatened the Republicans that he is willing to work until December 30, and get the work completed. Many Republicans and Democrats know that is not realistic, but Reid knows that the tables will be switched in 2011. With the Republicans with more power in the Senate and a majority in the House, Reid wants major bills passed now and not later.

Reid wants to complete an approval of ratification of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia, legislation to repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy, a “package of land, water, and wildlife” bill, the passage of the Dream Act, as well as the confirmation of several presidential nominees. It is obvious that Reid will not get all this done in the next 10 days.

Usually the main reason that the lame duck sessions are so important is to complete its work on the spending or appropriation bills that form the basis of the annual federal budget. President Obama was personally involved in this lame duck session, because if the Bush tax cuts deal was not finalized, all Americans taxes would have increased by at least $2,500.

2010 bill signing ceremony

President Obama at a bill signing ceremony

The Senate passed the Bush tax cuts on Wednesday, December 15, 2010 by a vote of 81-19, and the House approved the measure by a vote of 277-148 on Thursday, December 16, 2010. Without the president getting involved the tax cut bill, it would not have passed so rapidly.

President Obama and congressional Democrats agreed to compromise in their opposition to extending the lower tax rates to the wealthy Americans, and also agreed to a lower estate tax than had been scheduled to take effect. In return, Republicans agreed to extend unemployment benefits with payroll tax cuts and other tax breaks, which conservatives generally opposed as government stimulus measures.

Many political experts believe that this is an indicator of how President Obama will operate with a split Congress, during 112th session. Instead of change, President Obama is talking about compromise, and he is ready to make deals to initiate a bi-partisan conversation and a sharing of power.

At President Obama’s 29th bill signing ceremony for the Bush tax cut legislature, there were representatives from both parties at the event. At the signing ceremony President Obama said, “The final product proves when we can put aside the partisanship and political gains, we can get a lot done. If we can keep doing it, if we can keep that spirit, I’m hopeful that we won’t just reinvigorate this economy and restore the American dream, I’m also hopeful that we might refresh the American people’s faith in the capability of their leaders to govern in challenging times.”

Obama with Dems at bill signing ceremony

Obama signs at another 2010 bill signing ceremony

The president has acknowledged that he was not completely satisfied with the tax cut deal, but his goal was to get the work done before the deadline. It is obvious that the “to do list” for the 111th Congress will not be completed this year.
With 29 bill signing ceremonies completed, there was unprecedented work done, and the implementation of the groundbreaking legislatures will take years. But now there is a different Congressional session getting ready to start, with different representatives, and with a different set of priorities.

The work of the 111th Congress will never be completed, because one session carries to the next session and it takes months and years to get new bills operating and implemented.

Check out Roger’s other blogs on PRESIDENT OBAMA WATCH at http://www.presidentobamawatch.wordpress.com

112th Congress

The 2011 Congress stands at D.C.

 

As the 111th Congress and Senate finishes its session before it recesses for the holiday season, the Republicans are drawing a line in the sand. They have developed a strategy and agenda that is based on the philosophy of cutting spending, not raising taxes, and stopping all earmarks.

Everyone in the country is well aware that the 112th Congress and Senate session is the beginning of the conservatives taking back influential leadership positions in many major committees. The Democrats will only have the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives can stop major bills from being passed, because the two parties are on different sides of the fence.

The Republicans are determined to initiate their vision of a smaller federal bureaucracy while cutting spending, and repealing the new healthcare bill. The 42 Senators in the 111th Congress have been circulating a statement that says, “We are not- we are going to block every piece of legislation that comes our way unless it’s related to tax cuts or government spending.” The gridlock of this week may be a sign of things to come next year.

The Republicans are adamant about expanding all of Bush’s tax cuts and are refusing to give an inch on their position. This week President Obama had a summit at the White House with leaders of the Democrats and the Republicans to create a “spirit of cooperation.” This was the first time since the Democratic beating in the election that there was a bipartisan meeting.

President Obama admits that there are “real philosophical differences” between the two parties and this is why there are Democrats and Republicans. While the summit was going on, the Republican leaders were agreeing to work together, and the other members were passing around a statement to block Democratic legislation.

President Obama and his administration are well aware that this past election is the beginning of a new dialogue with the Republicans. Getting bills passed in the next session of Congress will be very difficult and diplomatic negotiations will be the key. During the 111th Congress, the Democrats had the majority in both houses and it was easy for the Democrats to railroad their agenda through without much resistance from the Republicans.

The Republicans will takeover as John Boehner becomes the Speaker of the House, and the numbers will be 242 Republicans to 192 Democrats. With this major shift in the dynamics of the House of Representatives, the Obama Administration will no longer have the numbers to get their bills passed.

The new Speaker of the House

The Republicans are now in a position to be a spoiler and create gridlock in the legislative process. In order to get anything done in Congress, the two sides will have to compromise and talk to each other.

The tax cuts are slated to conclude at the end of the year, and the Republicans want a two-year extension on all tax cuts. This is a top priority for the Republicans in the Senate, and they are holding firm on their position. This is the beginging of a stalemate in the Senate, and there is a possibility that this gridlock will continue during the 112th Congress.

OMB Budget Director Jack Lew

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner

President Obama has appointed Jack Lew, the OMB Budget Director, and Tim Geithner, Treasury Secretary to sit down with members of the House and Senate to find common ground and ensure middle-class Americans taxes don’t go up.

On the other hand, the Republicans want an extension on tax cuts for everyone.

The Democrats no longer have a majority in both houses and there is now a level playing field. The next couple of weeks are an indicator of the chess match that will be going on in Congress. Maybe our representatives will find some common ground and eliminate a total gridlock and stalemate.

Check out Roger’s blog at http://www.presidentobamawatch.blogspot.com