In an interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Vice President Joe Biden said the White House “misread the economy”:
The truth is, there was a misreading of just how bad an economy we inherited. Now, that doesn’t – I’m not – it’s now our responsibility. So the second question becomes, did the economic package we put in place, including the Recovery Act, is it the right package given the circumstances we’re in? And we believe it is the right package given the circumstances we’re in.
The stimulus plan is clearly not the right package for African Americans.
But less is more. The Center for American Progress notes:
African-American and Hispanic workers saw their unemployment rates fall slightly last month, but this was associated with a decline in labor force participation so this is more an indication of how challenging the labor market is rather than a sign of improved employment opportunities.
During two separate press conferences, Obama was asked about the need for “specific policies” to address joblessness in the African American community. Both times he failed to answer the question.
Prof. Boyce Watkins recently wrote:
Obama’s apparent lack of desire to create targeted policies for African Americans is driven by the fact that we “gave it up” without critically analyzing or challenging his commitment to our issues. No other candidate could have gotten away with this. Our commitment to political style over substance is similar to materialistic distractions toward “blinging, balling, flossing and shining” which led many of us into bankruptcy. I say this as a supporter of Obama, but also as a man who’d like to see him do more.
When asked about the black unemployment issue by American Radio Network’s April Ryan, Obama had to do a difficult dance. In light of the country’s impatience, this was no time for America’s first black president to actually be a black president. Obama took the question in stride, explaining that the best thing he can do for black people is to help the entire economy. He also succumbed to the fact that African American unemployment is traditionally much higher - nearly double - that of whites.
The problem for President Obama is that his response to the reporter was not only a recording of answers he’s given in prior venues; it also shows no desire to dig to the root of economic inequality. If we improve white unemployment to, say, 5%, Obama’s statement effectively argues that it’s ok for black unemployment to be at 10% (which is higher than the national unemployment rate right now, during one of the greatest recessions in American history).
But it’s not OK.
It’s time for black folks to make some noise.