Beneath the Spin * Eric L. Wattree
What Has Obama Done for the Poor and Middle Class?
Many of the people who go around talking about Obama hasn't done anything for the poor and middle class generally break down into two categories - self-serving demagogues who are out to mislead the people for their own gain, and the victims of those demagogues who are basing their opinion on what they've been told, since most of them obviously haven't read anything beyond the sports page in twenty years.
While the former group are disgusting for trying to mislead the people for personal gain, at least they’re trying to better their condition. The latter, on the other hand, are not only disgusting, but sad. These people are obviously too lazy-minded to, at the very least, keep themselves informed enough to protect their own families.
What's so sad is, many of these people or highly educated - or at least, spent a lot of years sitting in various classrooms - and others can tell you the name and birthdate of the bat boy who cleaned the bat that was used to scored the winning run in the 1936 World Series. Yet, these very same people can't, or won't, spare a couple of minutes to gather the necessary information to make sure their families aren't victimized by demagogues.
They don't seem to understand that corporate fascists are poised to take away everything we've worked all of our lives to acquire. The GOP has rigged the system to allow international corporations to pour unlimited amounts of money into buying the very people who are suppose to protect us, they've mounted a brutal assault on our educational system to render us too uninformed to understand what's going on around us, they've organized a campaign to obstruct our right to vote, they're trying to abolish the Fair Labor Standards Act in an attempt to destroy our labor unions, and finally, they've mounted a campaign to abolish Social Security and Medicare. Yet, all these so-called "defenders of the poor" can focus on is attacking Obama and implying on sites like "BlackBlueDog.com" (The term "Blue Dog Democrat" is credited to Texas Democratic Rep. Pete Geren - who later joined the Bush Administration) that Black people are intellectually challenged for feeling obliged to vote Democratic. Really!!!? Are these people idiots, or do they think we are?
There's something terribly wrong with that picture, and it's something that the American people should take a close look at - and since many of these people are Black "scholars," the Black community should be especially curious about what's going on.
But then, maybe these people aren't malevolent at all. Maybe they're just not as bright as their hype has led us to believe. Maybe they're simply wannabes who, while supposedly being educated, were actually indoctrinated out of touch with reality. That used to happen all the time. The old folks had a name for such people - "educated fools."
So perhaps it would be more effective if instead of trying to reeducate these people into understanding that corporate fascists are trying to enslave our families, we should simply tell them that the fascists are poised to abolish ESPN and the Soul Train Awards. Perhaps then, they'd have an incentive to become the true political scholars that they profess to be.
I mean, they don’t have to be brilliant to recapture reality; all they have to do is look it up on Google under "Wake up, fool!"
So what has Obama done for the Poor, you ask? He's done the following - and this is just the short list:
1). He stopped the nation from hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs A MONTH under Bush. I'd say that helped the poor and middle class.
2). He stopped the nation from going into a second Great Depression. I would think, that also helped the poor and middle class.
3). He saved the American auto industry. I’m pretty sure that also qualifies as helping the poor and middle class.
4). He was the first president to successfully passed healthcare reform in 70 years. That not only helped, but will save the lives of many of the poor and middle class.
5). He created more jobs in 27 months than Bush did in 7 years. That definitely helped the poor and middle class.
6). While he was doing all of the things above, he also managed to get Osama Bin Laden in his spare time - and if you remember, Bush spent 7 years, upward of a TRILLION dollars, and killed or maimed thousands of American troops in that effort. But Obama managed to pull it off with two helicopters and a handful of men.
Bush and Cheney’s incompetence and greed in this matter destroyed and/or disrupted thousands of poor and middle class families, while the rich had to look at their ever-swelling war profits just to know that the nation was involved in conflict. The war had no impact on them at all, because the rich don't send their kids to die for this country - that's a job for poor folks.
Thus, Bush and Cheney's mismanagement of both the economy, and the war in Iraq, played a major role in what got us into this economic quagmire in the first place. Yet, we didn’t hear a word from critics like Tavis Smiley and Cornel West during George W. Bush’s fiasco. Where were these two defenders of the poor and middle class then?
But Obama didn’t complain about that at all - he didn’t have time to complain, and he didn't have time to respond to the ridiculous charges of envious Black-on-Black racists. The president is an adult, with adult concerns, so he was, and is, much too busy cleaning up the mess left behind by the relative ear-splitting silence during the Bush administration of those who have suddenly discovered a newfound concern for "the least of these."
While others were plotting, fighting for attention, and whining, President Obama was busy doing following:
- Spur Job Creation: "In addition, to help those most affected by the recession, the Budget will extend emergency assistance to seniors and families with children, Unemployment Insurance benefits, COBRA tax credits, and relief to states and localities to prevent layoffs."
- Reforming the Job Training System: "The Budget calls for reform of the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which supports almost 3,000 One-Stop Career Centers nationwide and a range of other services. With $6 billion for WIA at DOL—and an additional $4 billion in the Department of Education—the Budget calls for reforms to improve WIA." Strengthen Anti-Discrimination Enforcement: "To strengthen civil rights enforcement against racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, religious, and gender discrimination, the Budget includes an 11 percent increase in funding to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. This investment will help the Division handle implementation of a historic new hate crimes law. The Budget also provides an $18 million, or 5 percent increase, for the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee. This increased investment will allow for more staff to reduce the backlog of private sector charges."
- Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities: "The Budget proposes $642 million, an increase of $30 million over the 2010 level, to support Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In addition to this discretionary funding increase for MSIs, the Administration supports legislation passed by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate that would provide $2.55 billion in mandatory funding to MSIs over 10 years."
- Help Families Struggling with Child Care Costs: "The Budget will nearly double the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit for middle-class families making under $85,000 a year by increasing their credit rate from 20 percent to 35 percent of child care expenses. Nearly all eligible families making under $115,000 a year would see a larger credit. The Budget also provides critical support for young children and their families by building on historic increases provided in ARRA. The Budget provides an additional $989 million for Head Start and Early Head Start to continue to serve 64,000 additional children and families funded in ARRA."
- Reform Elementary and Secondary School Funding: "The Budget supports the Administration’s new vision for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) … The Budget provides a $3 billion increase in funding for K-12 education programs authorized in the ESEA, including $900 million for School Turnaround Grants, and the Administration will request up to $1 billion in additional funding if Congress successfully completes ESEA reauthorization."
- Increase Pell Grants: "The Recovery Act and 2009 appropriations bill increased the maximum Pell Grant by more than $600 for a total award of $5,350. The Budget proposes to make that increase permanent and put them on a path to grow faster than inflation every year, increasing the maximum grant by $1,000, expanding eligibility, and nearly doubling the total amount of Pell grants since the President took office."
- Help Relieve Student Loan Debt: "To help graduates overburdened with student loan debt, the Administration will strengthen income-based repayment plans for student loans by reducing monthly payments and shortening the repayment period so that overburdened borrowers will pay only 10 percent of their discretionary income in loan repayments and can have their remaining debt forgiven after 20 years. Those in public service careers will have their debt forgiven after 10 years. The Budget also expands low-cost Perkins student loans."
- Prevent Hunger and Improve Nutrition: "The President’s Budget provides $8.1 billion for discretionary nutrition program supports, which is a $400 million increase over the 2010 enacted level. Funding supports 10 million participants in the WIC program, which is critical to the health of pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants. The Budget also supports a strong Child Nutrition and WIC reauthorization package that will ensure that school children have access to healthy meals and to help fulfill the President’s pledge to end childhood hunger. The President continues to support the nutrition provisions incorporated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)."
- Revitalize Distressed Urban Neighborhoods: "The Budget includes $250 million for HUD’s Choice Neighborhoods program, which will target neighborhoods anchored by distressed public or assisted housing with physical and social revitalization grounded in promising, measurable, and evidence-based strategies."
- Increase Funding for the Housing Choice Voucher Program: "The President’s Budget requests $19.6 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program to help more than two million extremely low income families with rental assistance to live in decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice. The Budget continues funding for all existing mainstream vouchers and provides flexibility to support new vouchers that were leased and $85 million in special purpose vouchers for homeless families with children, families at risk of homelessness, and persons with disabilities."
- Preserve 1.3 Million Affordable Rental Units through Project-Based Rental Assistance Program: "The President’s Budget provides $9.4 billion for the Project-Based Rental Assistance program to preserve approximately 1.3 million affordable rental units through increased funding for contracts with private owners of multifamily properties. This critical investment will help low-income households to obtain or retain decent, safe and sanitary housing. In addition, the Administration requests $350 million to fund the first phase of this multi-year initiative to regionalize the Housing Choice Voucher program and convert Public Housing to project-based vouchers."
- Promote Affordable Homeownership and Protect Families from Mortgage Fraud: "The Budget requests $88 million for HUD to support homeownership and foreclosure prevention through Housing Counseling and $20 million to combat mortgage fraud. In addition, the Budget requests $250 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation’s (NRC) grant and training programs. Of the $250 million, $113 million is requested for foreclosure prevention activities, a $48 million increase (74 percent) over 2010."
- Fight Gang Violence and Violent Crime: "The Budget provides $112 million for place-based, evidence supported, initiatives to combat violence in local communities, including $25 million for the Community-Based Violence Prevention Initiatives that aim to reduce gun and other violence among youth gangs in cities and towns across the country, and $37 million for the Attorney General’s Children Exposed to Violence Initiative, which targets the youth most affected by violence and most susceptible to propagating it as they grow up." . - Expand Prisoner Re-entry Programs: "The Budget provides $144 million for Department Justice prisoner re-entry programs, including an additional $100 million for the Office of Justice Programs to administer grant programs authorized by the Second Chance Act and $30 million for residential substance abuse treatment programs in State and local prisons and jails. In addition, the Budget provides $98 million for Department of Labor programs that provide employment-centered services to adult and youth ex-offenders and at-risk youth.."
- Fully Fund the Community Development Block Grant Program: "The Budget provides $4.4 billion for the Community Development Fund, including $3.99 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Formula Program (CDBG), and $150 million for the creation of a Catalytic Investment Competition Grants program. The new Catalytic Competition Grants program uses the authorities of CDBG, but will provide capital to bring innovative economic development projects to scale to make a measurable impact."
Now, what has Tavis Smiley and Cornel West done - other than promote their shows and try to sell you books and "ghett... Absolutely nothing.
Eric L. Wattree
Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everyone who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.