Dear Rep. Barbara Lee, Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Can We Talk?
By Joan Ruaiz, on August 18th, 2011
As a constituent who resides in your district, I just want to weigh in on the hatred and political divisiveness that I hear and read about on the news and on the Internet. There are forces working very hard at making sure that President Obama is defeated in 2012. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took an oath or signed a pledge to that effect.
The newest political strategy is to turn the African-American community against the first black president. The idea is to get black folks to scream at the President and to threaten to withhold our support come November 2012. Due to the very high unemployment rate in the black community, this could be an easy sell. The well-paid professional propagandists don’t ask African-Americans to lay the blame for the lack of employment at the feet of the business world (which is hoarding up a couple of trillions in their rainy-day fund), or to consider the fact that governors everywhere are cutting down on the public sector workforce (comprised of large numbers of black Americans per capita), or to holler at the Republican-dominated House, which has blocked most of the job-creating programs introduced by Democrats. Instead, they want us to aim our fire solely at our President and to blame him for 30 years of white men’s policies.
Now, I have already informed myself on what this President has done to help the American population in general, and African-Americans in particular.
Considering 2.7 years as the current timetable of his accomplishments, I would note that President Obama has reformed the health care system, which will provide subsidies for lower-income individuals who may not currently be covered (many who are AA), and also provides funding for badly needed community clinics, while doing away with pre-existing condition restrictions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary heart disease, all ailments suffered in alarming rates by members of the black community.
In addition, women will soon get birth control free of charge if insured, which means that women who were previously going to Planned Parenthood – because, even with insurance, they couldn’t afford the price of contraceptives – won’t need to anymore. This leaves women who are uninsured more resources to get birth control via Planned Parenthood. Plus, the stimulus saved the biggest health care provider to the black community, the various state Medicaid programs. As well, the President closed the Medicare donut hole in prescription drugs, reduced seniors’ prescription prices by 50% through the use of generic drugs, and sent $250 payments to seniors to make up to the lack of a COLA increase for two years now.
Further, the President literally, by his lonesome, saved the auto industry (while being criticized for it all the while), and in so doing saved many jobs held by African-Americans in the Midwest. No less, the Cash for Clunkers program provided needed cash to those with clunkers permanently parked or about to stop running.
Benefiting young people who are attempting to afford rising college tuition, President Obama increased Pell grants, supported funding community colleges at unprecedented levels, and reformed the private student loan programs to eliminate the middleman, thereby reducing loan interest rates. He also revamped the actual repayment of loan programs, reducing them to not more than 10% of income, while providing incentives to those who would choose community service careers. His credit card reform bill stopped the predatory practice of credit card companies gifting young people with the ability to ruin their credit at an early age (something that hits our community harder than most). He is also cracking down on for-profit educational enterprises, some of which charge outrageous fees for inferior post-secondary education. These same young people are now able to stay insured under their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26, whether they are enrolled in school part-time, full-time or not at all.
For the younger children, President Obama is responsible for signing a bill insuring healthier meals are served in our nation’s public schools, thereby addressing the issue of childhood obesity, a subject that affects more children in the African-American community than in others. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign is also addressing this serious issue. And we shouldn’t forget that early in his term, President Obama provided healthcare to 11 million additional children via the CHIP program previously vetoed by President Bush.
As states cut funding for public education, President Obama recently allowed waivers to states to do away with strict requirements set by No Child Left Behind, requirements which would have marked many of the public schools in low-income neighborhoods for closure. He has also invested in the development and replication of successful charter school programs, again focusing on low-income communities, while rewarding teachers who plan to teach in such areas.
President Obama has assisted all Americans, which includes African-American workers, by providing a payroll tax reduction (beneficial to workers who may or may not pay income tax), extended unemployment benefits, kept income tax low for the working class, and signed financial reform into law (which benefits our community largely because minorities were especially hard hit by the subprime mortgage crisis). There is also the up and coming Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which promises to be on the side of consumers, and we as black people are certainly that!
I cannot forget that the first black president increased military pay and improved veterans’ health care, is drawing down troops in Iraq, and has set a timeline for our departure from Afghanistan.
Lastly, President Obama instituted reform of crack cocaine sentencing, and the deadly killer, the tobacco industry. And – lo and behold – black farmers were recently finally awarded their long awaited settlement!
I may have forgotten a few other accomplishments that have been of assistance to the black community, but this letter is getting rather lengthy.
Now, that is not to say there is not much more to do, because of course there certainly is, and another four years would be a good start. But no president has ever been perfect, and this one should not be exempted from that rule. But I’m puzzled as to why some would want to believe that the majority of a particular minority group, who stood by FDR even as FDR basically cut them out of the new Social Security program as a compromise with Southern Democrats to get the bill passed, and who idolized JFK without gaining the rights that they were fighting for at the time, and who supported Bill Clinton, who gutted welfare, signed NAFTA, and then lied about having sex with “that” woman, would now be encouraged to drop their support of a black president who has done what I have listed in such a short time amidst political provocateurs and opportunists throwing rocks at him from the Left and the Right. It makes no common sense to me. In fact, it only tells me that we must insure that our community is well informed, so that we all hold steadfast, even as the most spoiled and entitled in this nation attempt to hoodwink us into believing that somehow we are worse off with this president than we have been with any other.
The Obama presidency is not about him, nor is it about black people. His presidency is about good common-sense governance for all Americans, while dealing with incredible odds and looking hateful enemies in the eye. Every day they conjure up ways to destroy this nation, just to say it happened on his watch. My bumper sticker statements are that ObamaCares, while Republicans won’t, and we shouldn’t turn our backs on him, we should cover his.
Thank you for your time and for your wonderful work, as I know that you have contributed to much of the changes I have mentioned. I support you and all that you do. I’m glad that we fighting on the same side. Stay as strong as you are, and I will do the same.
Alameda County Resident and Voter
and Oakland Small Business Owner