The Congressional Black Caucus Is Out Of Touch

The New York Daily News’ S.E. Cupp said it best: the Congressional Black Caucus “…practically every month seems to find new ways to demonstrate how irrelevant and out of touch it is.” This year alone, the CBC seems to be trying really hard to throw itself on the proverbial ash heap of history.

First it was the visit to Cuba and praising of Fidel Castro’s brother, Raul Castro. Then there was the investigation of one of the caucus’ more prominent members, Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA) for a conflict of interest for steering bailout money to a bank she and her husband had a financial interest in. And who can forget efforts by members of the CBC– and ally Barney Frank (D-MA), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee- to get a bailout for minority-owned radio stations? The original effort, which happened in May, carried into December when members said they would not support certain financial regulations if minority-owned broadcasters were not given specific attention.

Obviously, the name of the Congressional Black Caucus highlights their support for a particular group of Americans. Were their goal to assist what Waters called “most vulnerable of our population,” I would disagree with their avenue and tactics to help black Americans but still hold great respect for their goal. However, it is clear that is not their intent.

According to Cupp, President Obama’s Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, said, “I don’t think the President believes that we should address only one part of the unemployment rate.” The president and Gibbs have it exactly right. It is grievous fact that black Americans have an unemployment rate of over 15%, versus 10% for all of America, but the president has to worry about 100% of over 300 million Americans, not just the approximately 13% of black Americans in the country. (Of course, he seems to be trying to help the less-than-one percent of Americans who are CEOs of insurance companies…)

Unfortunately, Frank caved to the CBC, and is using part of last year’s bailout funds for the caucus’ pet projects, something that is actually illegal, as Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) pointed out recently. TARP, officially known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, was stipulated in last year’s bill to “be used automatically to pay down the federal budget deficit,” according to Gregg. Given this fact, it appears the CBC, Frank and the majority of Congress might be on the path to continuing to break the very financial laws they passed only 14 months ago.

Passing laws and getting money for constituents and special interest groups is nothing new, of course, though generally they follow the law. Unfortunately, the CBC and others in Congress are sidestepping the law and using billions of dollars for their interests- note, not for America’s- against the very laws they passed to “save” our economy. I think we should hold them and every other Congressman who supports using the TARP funds for more than its initial intent(s) accountable both at the voter’s booth and in every media possible until we reach the voter’s booth.

Of course, there is always impeachment, if some feel that is the best venue to hold our representatives accountable. I’m not certain that would work en masse, or be necessary or appropriate, though I support it in specific circumstances.


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