CBC Outlines Wish List for Jobs Package

Posted December 11, 2009 at 1:17pm

The Congressional Black Caucus last week demonstrated they could get tough. Now they’re getting specific.A week after boycotting a vote on Wall Street regulatory reforms to protest what they called a lack of focus by the White House on minority joblessness, the group put pen to paper to outline their wish list for tackling the problem in a package Democratic leaders are assembling.“We will not shy away from the fight for targeted relief for those suffering the most in this economy,— CBC Chairwoman Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said Friday.The 42-member bloc has already secured some handsome concessions from Democratic leadership in the wake of last week’s walkout, with Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) adding $4 billion to his regulatory overhaul aimed at stemming housing foreclosures.But CBC members on Friday said African-American and Hispanic communities need more relief in a pending jobs package. In a six-page letter to President Barack Obama, they itemized their requests — including funding for job training, housing rehabilitation and assistance to small businesses. And they want a guarantee that at least a dime out of every dollar spent boosting jobs goes to the poorest neighborhoods.Behind the push is a growing frustration among black lawmakers with Obama, a former CBC member, and their perception that his administration has neglected the neediest while tending to financial services industry giants.“We gave billions of dollars to banks, we’ve given billions of dollars to Wall Street,— said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who is heading up the CBC task force on economic recovery. “In fact, it seems we’ve focused so much on the too big to fail that we sent a message that the others are too small to matter.—Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), one of the most vocal White House critics, suggested Democratic leaders can expect to see a more aggressive posture from CBC members going forward. “We are finally waking up to the fact that despite the fact that we are loyal, consistent members of this Congress and of our Caucus and of that committee, that we are not paying enough attention to the misery in our community,— she said. “And as we have said, that day is over.—But Lee said it is too soon to say whether CBC members would seek to sink a jobs package that doesn’t adequately address their concerns.