How Obama Hurts Black America

The three crucial ways.

The nation’s first African-American President has severely damaged his fellow blacks citizens in three crucial ways: By his economic policies, by making blacks less independent, and by showing his own incompetence as leader of a country. Obama undoubtedly has dashed the hopes of many of the 96 percent of black voters who supported Obama for the presidency, as measured by exit polls.

The U.S. Department of Labor in September reported that black unemployment rose to 16.3 in August from 15.6 percent in July, according to a Sept. 8 Politico story. The increase was considerably more than for either Whites or Hispanics. Total unemployment stood at 9.6 percent, Politico reported. Joblessness has been rising in large part because these workers are not qualified for what jobs presently are available or jobs that may open up in the future. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis explained in a CNBC interview that future employment in infrastructure building and in clean energy areas will require high skill levels. This means a large percentage of the unemployed will have to be retrained.

Over the past few years, many African-Americans have been leaving the workforce. In 2008, for example, approximately 15,953,000 blacks held jobs. By the end of 2009, there were only 15,025,000 employed. During that period, the percentage of blacks working in construction, maintenance, production, and transportation fell. In 2008, 16.2 percent of African-Americans were working in transportation, production, or material-moving jobs. But that percentage dropped to 14.3 percent in 2009. The amount of blacks in 2008 who were working in natural resources, construction, or maintenance in 2008 was 6.4 percent; but in 2009 it was 6.1 percent. Black managers and professions have done a bit better. And service occupations saw an increase too

An Economic Policy Institute report of Oct. 8 said the September unemployment report by the BLS put the unemployment rate among blacks at 16.1 percent, an increase of 7.1 percent since the recession began in December 2007.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported construction’s deep problems when joblessness hit 22.7 percent in that industry, an area where many blacks have found employment in the past. On Oct. 14, Obama made a stunning admission. After repeatedly telling the country there were innumerable “shovel-ready jobs” available, he said there really never were any shovel-ready projects nor shovel ready jobs. As columnist and commentator Charles Krauthammer reacted: “You know, a year and a half a trillion dollars later he says these things that I talked about endlessly don’t exist....Having never worked in the private sector, he wouldn’t be sure what a project is and there isn’t a lot of shoveling at Harvard Law School.” At least not constructive shoveling. The gigantic run-up in spending and debt has given Americans—black and white—reason to question whether their children will inherit a dismal financial future.

The story of Tyrone Banks of Memphis exemplified that of many blacks today. As reported in Black Wealth Magazine, Banks was one of many African-Americans who saw his economic prospects brightening. A single father, he worked for FedEx and as a custodian part-time. “He built a handsome brick home and put his eldest daughter through college.” Then the recession rolled in like a dark storm. His mortgage rate shot up and he lost one of his jobs. Now he faces bankruptcy and foreclosure. “Not long ago, Memphis, where a majority of residents are black,” the magazine said, “the city saw a rising black working and middle class. Now rising unemployment and growing foreclosures have combined to destroy black wealth and income[.]”

The second way Obama has hurt his fellow blacks is by dumping billions more dollars in welfare programs which, while helping some in considerable need, at the same time, take away responsibility and initiative from those who have grown dependent on the myriad subsidies. Today, a record one in six Americans is a recipient of federal anti-poverty programs, expanding to meet the needs of recession victims, USA TODAY reported August 30. But also to make them serfs of the Democrat-led governing body.

More than 50 million low-income folks, many of them black, are on Medicaid, a survey by USA TODAY found. That’s up at least 17 percent since Obama’s recession chewed away good times. His fiscal policies are largely to blame for the lingering economic trench. More than 40 million people are on food stamps. Nearly 10 million people get unemployment insurance, nearly four times as many as in 2007. Benefits have been extended eight times beyond the basic 26-week program. So, the long-term unemployed get 99 weeks of jobless benefits, enough to discourage many from going job hunting. More than 4.4 million people are on welfare. Roughly half of them are black. The cost of Medicaid has jumped up 36 percent in the past two years.  Jobless benefits have soared from $43 billion to $160 billion. The food stamp bills had risen 80 percent. Welfare is up 24 percent. Conservatives fear the safety net will be difficult to shrink even when the recession ends. Some African-Americans by that time may have lost the will to fend for themselves. To make matters worse, the Heritage Foundation says President Obama‘s FY 2011 budget request would increase welfare spending by $953 billion, 42 percent increase over FY 2008.

The way Obama may hurt blacks the most, however, is by showing his incompetence. Yes, he broke the color barrier by becoming a black President. But Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major baseball because he was such a talented ballplayer. Color didn’t down-grade other blacks with acting talent of Denzel Washington, Will Smith or Morgan Freeman or singers like Aretha Franklin, Beyonce, or Ella Fitzgerald. Or who show the athletic prowess of Hank Aaron, Michael Jackson, or Gale Sayers. Or demonstrate the diplomatic skills of Condoleezza Rice or Colon Powell.  These African-Americans have that special, exceptional quality beyond race. Sadly, Obama's exceptionalism is proving to be superficial at best.