NewsOne and Tom Joyner present BlackAmericanAgenda, the six issues we feel are the most important for Black Americans in this election year. Let it be your yardstick for measuring the merits of the politicians and parties on which you’ll be voting in November, bullets of wisdom for the ballot box.
For a list of all the BlackAmericanAgenda issues, CLICK HERE.
BlackAmericanAgenda | PROSPERITY
- African-American wealth is in decline.
- The median wealth of African Americans lags severely behind that of whites. White households have median wealth that is 20 times greater than that of black households.
- The majority of black wealth was concentrated in their homes which suffered greater losses as a result of the foreclosure and subprime mortgage crises.
- A majority of black-owned businesses employ just one person and less than one percent produce over $1 million in revenue per year.
Any way you crunch the numbers, African-Americans have not done well during The Great Recession. In fact, black wealth and many of the economic gains made during the last 50 years slid away with the collapse of the housing market. And this slide in the black economic situation has occurred under the country’s first black president — though we can argue many of these processes were already in place when he took office. The central question of the upcoming election will be whether President Obama has done enough to right the financial ship of the entire country and African-Americans.
President Obama has come under intense scrutiny from critics such as Tavis Smiley and Cornel West who argue that Obama should address economic proposals specifically at African-Americans. Other leaders such as Al Sharpton have argued that President Obama’s idea of targeting reforms toward all Americans in need will automatically help African-Americans. As for President Obama, he stands firmly on his record regarding the economy.
He cites his move to save the auto industry, which he says saved 1.4 million jobs. Obama says his stimulus package has helped to create 3.6 million jobs helping to repair this country’s infrastructure while protecting and extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed.
When he took office, the economy was losing 700,000 jobs per month, said Obama. But through March 2012, the economy has added 25 consecutive months of job gains and netted 4.1 million jobs.
Despite their economic challenges,African-Americans’ support for President Obama remains at records similar to when he was first running for office in 2008.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
- The median household income of African-Americans (half make more, half make less) is $32,068, a 3.2 percent decline since 2009, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
- The median net worth for working age black women 18 to 64 is just $100.*
- The poverty rate of African-Americans has increase to 27.4 percent from 24.5 percent since the start of the Great Recession.
- There are 2.5 million African-Americans out of work and blacks, while making up just 13 percent of the U.S. population, account for 19 percent of the long-term unemployed.**
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau
*SOURCE: Closing the Gap Initiative.
**SOURCE: United States Department of Labor
AN EXPERT SAYS…
David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington, D.C., said the election will be decided based on the state of the economy.
“The election is going to be a referendum on Obama, mostly about the economy and whether people feel we are on the right track,” said Bositis.
In the first three months of the year, we have added a total of 600,000 jobs or 200,000 per month. If Obama can keep the job creation rate at approximately 150,000 per month, the unemployment rate will slowly go down, giving Obama the impetus to point to how his policies are working.
“Obama’s going to say things are getting better. When I was elected, the economy was in free fall. We still have work to do but the policies being advocated by Republicans will not work,” Bositis said.
Republicans will use the fact that the economy has not fully recovered against Obama. “They will say he has been in office for four years and people are still suffering and out of work,” said Bositis. “They will say Obama has been president and you are still suffering.”
But Bositis believes that Obama has an emotional factor playing in his favor, partly because of Romney’s immense wealth.
“The public believes that Obama cares. They do not believe that Mitt Romney cares,” he said.
To this end, Bositis urges a second stimulus. Bositis says the first stimulus of $870 billion was too small and likely needed to be at least $1.5 trillion in size. Another influx of cash would allow local and state governments to rehire some of the workers laid off over the last few years.
WHAT WE’D LIKE TO SEE
- Jobs growth needs to continue at brisk pace of at least 150,000 jobs per month to reduce the unemployment rate
- Obama should wield the expiring Bush Tax cuts and automatic cuts to the Defense budget as a powerful sledgehammer to drive his economic policies if elected a second time.
POLICIES TO SUPPORT
- A second stimulus to increase jobs.
- With no further election to worry about, Obama should push long-term economic policies that could benefit African-Americans, such as a job creation program aimed specifically at blacks.
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