Just as the gay community is fuming about the lack of support from the DNC and, more importantly, the Obama administration, comes news that the congressional Black Caucus is also feuding with Obama over his surprising lack of support for minorities during this current financial crisis.
A clash between the Obama administration and the Congressional Black Caucus intensified Wednesday, illustrating how lawmakers' unease about the economy has the potential to derail White House priorities.
Ten black lawmakers refused to appear at a House committee vote on financial regulations Wednesday, a move that nearly allowed Republicans to kill a major Democratic bill.
The move was the culmination of weeks of tension, including a testy meeting two weeks ago that included Rep. Maxine Waters (D., Calif.), Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. In the meeting, Ms. Waters berated the administration for not doing enough to help minority-owned businesses, mentioning specifically a New York broadcaster that couldn't get a loan reworked.
At her news conference, Ms. Waters said minorities and minority-owned institutions had been disproportionately hurt by the financial crisis. She said minority-owned banks haven't had the same access to government capital as other banks. She also said minority-owned auto dealers, newspapers and broadcasting firms were folding because of a lack of funding. Foreclosure rates and unemployment are also higher among minorities, she said.
"It's heartbreaking," Matthew Kavanagh, director of U.S. advocacy for Health GAP told TPMDC. His group was among four U.S. AIDS groups that gave Obama a "D+" on AIDS policy yesterday. Kavanagh said that to his shock, he felt Bush had a better record on AIDS research than Obama. "I could not imagine I would be saying that now [last year]. Many folks in the global AIDS movement were so looking forward to stepping up the fight with Obama."
Dr. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said he would have given Bush a B+ this time last year. The shift since Obama has been "shocking" to the activists around the world, he said.
"It's outrageous," Zeitz told TPMDC from a protest his group and others held near the White House today. He said activists around the world are "dismayed" by what they've seen from Obama's commitment to AIDS in his first year.
There are two main complaints with Obama's AIDS policy from activists. First, funding. Bush raised AIDS funding to its highest level while in office, and budget requests sent by Obama to Congress for next year call for funding to essentially remain at the Bush administration levels.
The groups that issued the "report card" yesterday claim that's not enough. According to the report it issued, "flat-lining" the AIDS budget line is effectively reducing the U.S. commitment to fighting AIDS because "it will not even keep pace with global medical inflation, estimated at 4-10% this year.