The Obama administration recently unveiled a 44-page report called "The President's Agenda and the African American Community" that highlights policies that the White House says have benefited black people. It is, in some respects, an answer to critics who've argued that the president hasn't done enough to address the harsh economic realities in black communities.
The Root's Cynthia Gordy points out that last week's report highlights many of the same policies in "Creating Pathways to Opportunity," the report released last month that outlined how the administration has helped low-income Americans. According to the new report, the Recovery Act and its later expansions kept 1.3 million African Americans above the poverty line in 2010 alone, while this year the administration's Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit has benefited 2.2 million black families and nearly half of all black children.
At a conference held last Wednesday for the report's release, President Obama acknowledged unemployment for black Americans is "way too high." Still, many say his administration could have acted sooner. An excerpt from Gordy's story available on The Root is below:
Although Wednesday's event was called the first of its kind, the fact is the Obama administration has held similar large-scale events focused on combatting the challenges facing other racial and ethnic groups. In 2009, for example, President Obama held a White House Tribal Nations Conference, followed by a 2010 summit hosted by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In July the White House also hosted a Hispanic Policy Conference. But this was the administration's first big summit looking specifically at the African-American community.
"Many of us would have preferred it if this had been held earlier," Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, told The Root of Wednesday's conference. "But that's not the most important thing. The most important thing is that there's a commitment by the White House to strengthen the dialogue with a broader group of leaders who are very interested in the direction of the country, and who represent communities that have really taken for the worse in the recession."
Morial, who was invited to the conference but could not attend, nonetheless had ideas for the "giving recommendations" portion of the event. "Focus on jobs," he said. "Focus on the things you can do without the Congress. Work hard right now to put together a summer jobs program for young people for spring and summer of 2012. Every day wake up and focus on everything that presidential influence and authority can impact in terms of job creation and putting people back to work."
Other efforts the report identifies as having a disproportionately positive impact on African Americans include subsidized jobs programs, increased funding for Pell Grants, mortgage-modification plans for distressed homeowners and health care reform, according to Gordy's story at The Root.