Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

President Obama's African American Policy in Action Leadership Conference

Many have wondered if President Obama is on the side of  African Americans.
What with the president seemingly promoting the agendas of Latinos, Muslims, Asians, Native Americans, while telling African Americans during the Black Caucus dinner this year to "stop whining" when African Americans lift their voices in protest of high unemployment, mass incarceration, health care and economic disparity, it may have been hard to tell if he was an ally.
Seemingly, the before mentioned groups can voice their opinions about what is wrong in their population, and the president will speak to the issues specific to that group.

When it comes to speaking on issues and making positive changes relative to the Africa American community, we get from the president something to the affect of, 'my policies will work for ALL Americans".  From African American 'leaders' we're led to believe that the president isn't the president of African Americans, he's the 'people's president'.
Well, finally, today President Obama tackled the issues that affect the African American community in a first-of-its-kind White House African American Policy in Action Leadership Conference.

It must be an election year.

Discussion topics include strengthening the economy through the American Jobs Act, job training, access to capital for growing businesses, reforming our nation’s education system, protecting civil rights, community development initiatives, and strategies targeting poverty.
Said President Obama, "We have been through tougher times before. Our parents have been through tougher times; our grandparents have been through tougher times. We know tough times. And what we also know, though, is that if we are persistent, if we are unified, and we remain hopeful, then we’ll get through these tough times and better days lie ahead.

The president is expecting his advisors to inform him of the ideas proposed during the various 'breakout' and 'brainstorming' sessions that included Senior Advisor to President Obama,Valerie Jarrett, Gene Sperling, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Melody Barnes.

"So use today as an opportunity to share ideas with us", said Obama.

"We’re going to have breakout sessions. Let’s do some brainstorming. We want your input, we want your ideas. At the end of the conference, I’ve asked Valerie Jarrett as well as Gene Sperling, who is my chief economic coordinator, the head of the National Economic Council, to come back and hear what ideas were proposed."

The president is hoping that the African American community "will emerge from these economic times stronger than before."

Said President Obama today, "I just want everybody to participate here in a spirit of persistence, determination and unity. And if you maintain that spirit, then I’m confident that not only will the  African American community emerge from these difficult economic times stronger than we were before, but this entire nation is going to come out more unified, better equipped to deal with the challenges of the 21st century than we were before."

He is the people's president.

The White House released a new policy report outlining how the President's policies directly impact the African American community. A copy of the policy report is available at


From the White House:  A Fact Sheet, titled The President's Agenda and the African American Community.

The President has fought consistently for policies that create opportunity for all Americans and, as result, has lifted millions out of poverty and invested in long-term reforms to grow the middle class. This new report highlights how the Obama Administration’s reforms and investments to reward work, improve education and increase college access and affordability, keep Americans in their homes, increase access to health care, and investments in small businesses have made a significant impact in African American Communities:

Tax Relief for Virtually All Working Americans. The President secured the Making Work Pay tax credit in 2009 and 2010 and a payroll tax cut in 2011 that amounted to a 2 percent raise for working Americans through 2011. In addition, the President secured historic expansions in refundable tax credits Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit for low-income families. The American Jobs Act will extend and expand tax relief for every American family next year. The American Jobs Act will extend and expand tax relief for virtually every American family next year, including nearly 20 million African American workers.

Subsidized Jobs for Low-Income Adults and Youth. Through the Recovery Act, 367,000 low-income youth received summer employment and over 260,000 adults and youth were placed in subsidized jobs. The American Jobs Act builds on the success of these programs by supporting summer jobs and pathways to work for unemployed Americans and youths.

Support for African American-Owned Small Businesses. Since the beginning of the Administration, the President has enacted 17 tax cuts for small businesses, including billions of dollars in tax credits, write-offs, and deductions for Americans who start new businesses, hire the unemployed, and provide health insurance for their employees. In addition, through the Small Business Jobs Act and other measures, the President has taken steps to expand American American-owned small businesses’ access to credit –through programs like the Community Development Financial Institutions and the New Markets Tax Credit, which provided over $4 billion in capital to predominantly African American communities. The American Jobs Act would cut payroll taxes in half for every American small business, including more than 100,000 African American owned firms.

Reform K-12 and Early Education through Innovative, New Programs. President Obama created Race to the Top with a historic $4.35 billion investment. As a result of the initiative, over 40 states have raised standards, improved assessments, and invested in teachers to ensure that all of our children receive a high-quality education. A similar Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge has been developed to raise the quality of and increase access to critical programs that ensure our kids are entering school ready to learn. In addition to these historic investments, the President has also fought against Republican budget cuts to critical programs like Head Start. The American Jobs Act provides $30 billion for States to hire new teachers, rehire those laid off, and prevent as many as 280,000 teachers whose jobs are at risk next year from being laid off.

Increase College Access and Affordability. Since the beginning of the Administration, the President has dramatically increased Pell Grant funding to support an additional 200,000 African American students, created the American Opportunity Tax Credit to ease college costs, and championed bold and comprehensive reform of student loans that will save taxpayers $68 billion over the next decade. Together, these represent the largest investment in higher education since the G.I. Bill. The President also secured $850 million in additional funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and $150 million for Predominantly Black Institutions.

Keep Americans in Their Homes During a Housing and Economic Crisis. The Administration’s programs, both through their direct and indirect impact on the market, have helped more than 4 million families permanently modify their mortgages so they can stay in their homes. Through the Recovery Act, the President provided $1.5 billion for the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program to prevent homelessness for 1 million Americans. The American Jobs Act builds on the success of these programs with the new “Project Rebuild,” which will invest in the communities hardest hit by the housing downturn.

Create Economically-Sustainable Neighborhoods. The Administration has secured $40 million for Promise Neighborhoods and $126 million to Choice Neighborhoods that provide a continuum of services to combat the challenges facing communities most in need. The new Strong Cities, Strong Communities is helping strengthen cities and regions by increasing the capacity of local governments to execute their economic growth plans, while also delivering federal assistance tailored to the local government’s needs.

Expand Health Care Access for Families and Workers. Within a month of taking office, the President signed the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act into law, expanding health coverage to more than 4 million children who would otherwise go uninsured. And the historic Affordable Care Act, when fully implemented, will expand health coverage to about 34 million Americans, including as many as 7 million African Americans.

Protect Civil Rights and Promote Criminal Justice. The President has signed major legislation like the Fair Sentencing Act and the Claims Resolution Act, and worked to expand and enforce hate crimes prosecutions, reduce unfairness in sentencing, and counter employment discrimination.

Read the full policy report at

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