Ed Hornick, CNN, December 11, 2009
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus called on President Obama Friday to address the skyrocketing unemployment rate facing minorities–especially African-Americans and Latinos–and greater economic conditions plaguing low-income communities.
“Our job is to make sure the legislation that gets to the president’s desk responds to the degradation and the crisis in our community,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, at a Friday news conference. “Our community is bleeding. And we are the worst hit.”
The letter–titled “Change Course, Confront Crises, Continue the Legacy”–also indicates that the CBC wants, among other things:
# 10 percent of all job programs earmarked for low- income communities
# Utilize the unused TARP funds for job creation programs
# Invest money in green jobs and new technology
# Increase funding for youth summer jobs programs and adult apprenticeships
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, has said that the jobs programs to date haven’t done enough to address the unemployment issue affecting minority communities.
As for the president, Chairwoman Lee said in a recent press release that while she praised Obama’s concerns about the economy, “much more needs to be done, particularly for those Americans who are hurting most.”
On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that a jobs bill is likely to come up next week that would provide help for struggling small businesses and hard-hit communities and extend unemployment benefits.
Some reporters at Friday’s news conference asked caucus members why the focus is on minorities and not everyone who is struggling.
“We’re not talking about race. We’re talking about hardest hit, where their unemployment rates are the greatest,” Lee said. “We’re talking about qualified areas of economic hardship, where 20 percent or more of the population is or at below the poverty line and we want at least 10 percent of the resources targeted.”
Lee’s colleague–Rep. David Scott, D-Georgia–also reiterated that the CBC’s concern isn’t “based on the foundation of race,” but rather focused on the “foundation of need.”