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Black Caucus Demonstrates Displeasure with Obama on Jobs, But Avoids Confrontation

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

What's a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) member to do when he/she is politically wedded to the Black man in the White House who is refusing to do anything substantive to tackle Depression-level African American unemployment? The CBC is approaching the moment when either they confront President Obama, directly, or abandon the pretense of representing their constituents.

 

Black Caucus Demonstrates Displeasure with Obama on Jobs, But Avoids Confrontation

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

“The Black Caucus is terrified at the very idea of confrontation with the Corporate-Executive-in-Chief, Barack Obama.”

The Congressional Black Caucus is beginning to panic at the extent of the unemployment crisis, which saw joblessness rise to Depression-levels in African American communities even before last year’s financial crash. Black lawmakers are caught in a bind of their own making. By all rights, they should be the loudest voices in protest of an administration that, at last count, has dedicated $23.7 trillion to rescuing Wall Street from self-inflicted catastrophe, but relies on a mythical “rising tide” to lift their Black constituents out of the jobless spiral. Yet the Black Caucus is terrified at the very idea of confrontation with the Corporate-Executive-in-Chief, Barack Obama.

Last week, members of the Caucus signaled their discomfort with White House jobs policies, by refusing to take part in a committee vote on Obama’s notoriously weak bill to regulate Wall Street. The move forced House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank to postpone the vote until after the Thanksgiving holiday. Frank said the Black lawmakers complained of a “lack of response to the economic situation that is confronting them...." But the chairman added that he didn’t think the Black lawmakers’ action meant they would vote against the finance industry bill when it came up again.

If Barney Frank is correct in his assessment, then the ten Black Caucus members on his committee were simply conducting a demonstration to show their constituents they are at least aware of the problem, but are not necessarily prepared to confront President Obama directly. Earlier in the week, the Congressional Black Caucus had a vigorous exchange about jobs with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. But that was a closed-door meeting.

“The president offered nothing of substance to the unemployed.”

Meanwhile, President Obama, finishing up his trip to China, indicated yet again that his priority is managing the government debt – code words for cutting social spending and blocking programs for job creation. The president offered nothing of substance to the unemployed, aside from tax incentives to corporations for new hiring, and boosting U.S. exports that might trickle down to ease joblessness.

Obama had already served notice that he would not entertain proposals for another economic stimulus at his White House Jobs Forum, next month. This was likely the red flag that prompted the Black Caucus to take some action – symbolically, at least – to indicate their unhappiness.
Democrats in Congress keep telling their constituents they are preparing legislation to tackle unemployment, but their willingness to buck their president is doubtful, and every word out of Obama's mouth is designed to discourage any serious jobs creation bill.

A new report warns that one million workers who are already unemployed will lose their benefits if Congress does not act by the end of December. The cost of extending all federally paid unemployment benefits, is $80 billion, a price tag President Obama is likely to balk at, now that his friends on Wall Street have been, at least temporarily, rescued. The Black Caucus will soon face its moment of truth, when more than a little demonstration will be required on the jobs issue. For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford, On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20091125_gf_CBCJobsObama.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 8:48pm EDT