Recent reports revealed that President Obama is considering cuts on Social Security and Medicare, as bargaining pieces in negotiations to reach an agreement with Republicans on raising the country’s debt ceiling.
In what seems to be a race to find the best means to an end on a drawn-out battle between Democrats and Republicans, debt-ceiling negotiations must come to a consensus before the government is forced to default its loans in August.
But if Obama cuts spending on Social Security, what kind of lasting affect would it have on African-Americans?
Though the Social Security program benefits many Americans, African-American beneficiaries will suffer the most if the program is reduced, considering they face the highest poverty rate in the country.
Dr. Fredrick Harris, Professor of Political Science at Columbia University says such spending cuts could dramatically impact African-Americans.
“[Social Security cuts] would have a devastating impact on Black communities since the Black elderly disproportionately depend on Social Security more than other communities,” Harris said.
“The so-called ‘new austerity’ will have long-term consequences for the poor and, in turn, the most vulnerable in Black communities.”
Elderly African-Americans rely on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their income—not to mention disabled persons and children of the deceased, who also significantly rely on Social Security funding.
Harris believes such a political move could also have lasting affects on the Black community’s backing of the president.
“While [he] has become a symbol of pride in Black communities, these cut backs in Social Security and other programs to address inequality raises questions about whether his presidency is becoming a ‘hollow prize’ for the Black community.”
Obama may want to shop his options before conceding to Republicans on the battle for Social Security and Medicare.
It appears the president is acting out of mere desperation rather than keen executive authority. While the Republicans are wayward on their stance on the economy, Democrats, and the president especially, must retreat from walking on eggshells and assume a more take-no-nonsense role in government.
Will Obama show the Republicans who’s boss? Or will we see yet another strain tear down the African-American community, while the rich get richer and the poor get radically poorer?
Only time will tell.