The Congressional Black Caucus opens its 41st annual legislative conference on Wednesday as a former caucus member with whom they have misgivings is now in the White House.
The CBC’s dissatisfaction with President Obama has to do with the failure of his administration to reduce black unemployment, which in August was the highest in more than a quarter-century, according to the Labor Department.
Had any president other than Obama been in the Oval Office, “and had failed to address this problem, we probably would be marching on the White House,” Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., told McClatchy Newspapers.
The Black Caucus has been “less volatile” in its reaction to the Obama administration’s handling of the jobs issue, said Cleaver, the Caucus chairman, “because nobody wants to do anything that would empower the people who hate the president.”
That unspoken moratorium may not last indefinitely, however. At least one black lawmaker has gone public with her frustration that the president hasn’t done more to stimulate job creation and reduce the number of blacks drawing unemployment checks.
“We’re supportive of the president,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said last month, at a town hall meeting hosted by the Black Caucus, “but we getting tired, y’all. Getting tired.”
More recently, Waters had a tepid reaction to Obama’s speech that unveiled his proposed American Jobs Act to a joint session of Congress, “I wanted him to say something about the intolerable rate of unemployment in the African American community,” Waters told CBS News. “He didn’t quite get there.”
Waters was also equivocal in her support for the president’s $447 billion jobs plan, which, the White House says, will create some 1.5 million jobs, while stimulating a 2 percent growth in the nation’s economy. “I would have had even bigger plans,” she said.
Obama will have an opportunity to tell Waters and her fellow black lawmakers how his jobs plan will reduce black unemployment when he appears Saturday at an awards dinner during the CBC’s legislative conference.
Danielle Gray, Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council, said the president will “absolutely” address the black jobless rate in his remarks, after passing up opportunities during recent speeches in Ohio and North Carolina in which he stumped for his jobs plan.