WASHINGTON — The top-ranking African American in Congress called on President Barack Obama Friday to sharpen his focus on hard-hit minority communities in his plans for bolstering the economy.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., said the recession has devastated communities of color, leaving them with extraordinarily high unemployment rates. He said previous government recovery programs have left minorities behind and he called on Obama to broadly incorporate a so-called “10-20-30” policy directing at least 10 percent of any recovery efforts into communities with 20 percent poverty rates for 30 years.
“I believe that something of this order needs to be done across-the-board as we go forward,” Clyburn said in a conference call with reporters accompanying the release of a minority economic report from the Center for American Progress, a liberal advocacy group.
Clyburn's comments came just days before Obama was to deliver his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday and as the president unveiled a restructured presidential advisory board – with corporate leadership – to focus on creating jobs.
Obama named GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt as the head of a new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
“It seems today that already a recovery is taking place. It is showing up in the investor community but it is not showing up in communities of color,” said Clyburn, the third-ranking House Democrat. “We're going to see people saying, ‘We're back,’ and these communities will be in deeper trouble than before.”
The Center for American Progress report released Friday emphasized that minorities have struggled through the recession far more than whites. It noted that black unemployment stands at nearly 16 percent, versus about nine percent for whites and 13 percent for Latinos. Nearly 75 percent of whites own homes, versus 45 percent of blacks and 47 percent of Latinos.
Obama has supported the 10-20-30 formula in the past, after lawmakers added it to the rural development section of the stimulus package that Congress passed in 2009.