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Two of the top cabinet aides on President Barack Obama’s historic team conduced an exclusive forty-five minute exclusive interview with the African American media, including the Los Angeles Sentinel, to outline his record stimulus plan, recently.
It obviously was a historical first for the President of the United States to direct a message specifically towards the Black community to which much of the $825 economic stimulus plan would benefit.
White House Chief of Staff Rahm I. Emmanuel Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett whose is also responsible for intergovernmental affairs and public liaison conducted the teleconference from Washington D. C. on Thursday March 5 at 12-noon pacific time.
President and Obama felt it significant that the Black press be directly informed six weeks into the new administration and answer questions to any concerns they might have.
The pair concluded that the transition for President Obama and his new team have been immersed in the whirlwind of crisis that are both national and global and while the task before them are daunting and quite challenging there are nonetheless intimidated.
All such issues have a direct impact on the Black community, including but not limited to the high unemployment rate that at the time of press conference was just above 12 percent, which is double among Blacks than it is for the rest of the nation.
However the unemployment rate among Blacks was at 12.5 percent before President Obama assumed the mantle of the highest office in the land.
President Obama ‘s chief concerns are also issues that cut deep into African Americans, unemployment, and public education and health care.
The primary goal of the teleconference is the engage Black America in the process and allowing for their voices to be heard and problems addressed, a transparency that President Obama has discussed publicly on numerous occasions.
As historical as his election has been President Obama has taken on more responsibilities than any other president has ever inherited, but they concurred with President Obama that they have no choice but to take on the energy crisis, the health care crisis, the swelling deficit and the eroding economy crisis.
“Although the president has assembled a cabinet that is gifted with experience and intelligence, and offers the diversity that reflects most of America, he is bending toward the many African Americans who were responsible for electing him into office,” Jarrett asserted.
“We are focused primarily on the economy it is the most essential effort that we have. We passed our economical recovery act in the first 30 days which dealt with building roads and bridges, taxes cuts for the middle class,” Emmanuel said.
Emmanuel spelled out the three primary phases of President Obama’s goals. One being the economy, two the budget over the next five years that will increase accountability for education reform reduce the deficit and third would be comprehensive financial regulatory reform that would prevent such disasters that have been experienced on Wall Street that were key to ignited the financial meltdown.
Kevin Chappell of Ebony magazine asked the tandem if there were any such policies that were aimed specifically for at Blacks to address their plight, which is much steeper than any other ethnic group in the nation.
“Sure, the dollars that are coming from the federal government recovery package, a fiscal portion are going to go to the states and then the cities. For the state projects that we announced the other day those are going to go to cities where the bulk of the African American population is concentrated,” answered Jarrett.
“When you look at strategically where the dollars are going to be allocated to projects that are in cities and most of those are going to be construction projects. We are working to create green jobs for the training initiative and we’ve had several meetings with unions that have not been necessarily inclusive in their membership and they are going to have to have a mechanisms of training individuals who have not been traditionally included. We’ve had very productive meeting with union leadership.”
Jarrett admitted that most cities and states have their own legislative regulations in place that would comply with addressing equal opportunity for African Americans.
Thus she confirmed that the level of dollars that are going to be pumped into cities it will greatly enhance the opportunities that are afforded to Blacks.
“It’s the type of investments that we’re making in health care, energy independence and tax cuts for middle class and working middle class those are the very investments that under the prior administration that were basically denied funds and had an adverse impact on the African American community,” added Emmanuel.
Emmanuel also stated that President Obama administration wanted a more slight robust economic recovery plan that the one that got passed, but the budget which is the next phase would put resources on top for high quality teachers, school investments and modernizations, putting money toward weatherizing homes which will not only good for the home owners for people who will be doing that work.
Emmanuel candidly encouraged patience that this will not be a quick fix and that President Obama is in this for the long haul.
Many of the challenges by the previous administration that have been flipped off or brushed under the rug are now coming home to roost, he stated.
Jarrett issued a challenge to the Black media to manage expectations, and she suggested that looking at the stock market to gauge the success of the administration or lack thereof as not being the right litmus test as the barometer.