Extremist Senators Block Consideration Of Crucial NAACP-Supported Job Creation Bills


Despite the fact that unemployment rates nation-wide continue to be critically high, Congress has done very little to address the problem.  The official national unemployment rate remains consistently over 9%.  Among African Americans, the rate is much higher, above 16%.  For African American males the rate is 17.5%, and for black teens it’s nearly 41%.  1.4 million African Americans have been out of work for more than 6 months. 

On September 9, 2011, President Obama introduced the American Jobs Act, which would expand opportunities for the long-term unemployed to reenter the workforce, provide incentives for businesses to hire and make investments in revitalizing schools, infrastructure and neighborhoods.  It extends unemployment insurance to benefit the long-term unemployed and their families, and would make it illegal to discriminate against the long-term unemployed when making hiring decisions.  The plan supports summer / year-round jobs for youth.  The tax cuts portion will benefit over 100,000 African American small businesses and will help African American owned small businesses access capital.

The U.S. House of Representatives has refused to consider the President’s plan.  In the Senate, the entire plan was brought up for consideration on October 11, 2011, along with a provision to increase taxes on the wealthiest Americans by 5.6% to pay for the proposal.  Sadly, the Senate was unable to get “cloture,” and thus limit debate, on the measure by a vote of 50 – 49 (60 votes are needed to invoke “cloture”).  In response to this defeat, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) has divided the President’s proposal into smaller bills for consideration.  The first bill, S. 1723, would have provided $35 billion to state and local governments to pay for teachers and public safety workers.  The cost would have been offset by a 0.5% surtax on incomes exceeding $1 million.  Senator Reid failed to get cloture on this proposal on October 20, 2011, by a margin of 50-50. 

The second bill would have provided $50 billion in immediate funding for infrastructure projects across the nation to repair our Nation’s highways, bridges, transit systems, airports and railways, as well as establishing a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion that will leverage private and public capital to help fund a broad range of infrastructure projects.  It would be paid for with a 0.7% surtax on individuals’ incomes over $1 million.  This bill was defeated on November 3, 2011, by a margin of 51 to 49. 

The NAACP will continue to loudly advocate for enactment of these vital bills and emphasize the need to create jobs in our Nation.  In a country in which the national unemployment rate is above 9%, and the unemployment rate among African Americans is much higher, above 16%, to vote against this legislation is simply misguided.

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