Don't Fall Off
Blacks need to act now to keep from going over the fiscal cliff
In “James Bond,” “Mission Impossible” and pretty much any action film, there are typically scenes that involve somebody going over a cliff. Normally, just as the person goes over, he or she is grabbed by someone else who sometimes manages to save the person from falling.
Yesterday, I attended a meeting at the White House focused on the impact of the impending fiscal cliff within the black community. A woman made mention that blacks have already gone over the cliff because of the recession, and wondered what the impact would really be for us.
If this fiscal cliff scenario were playing out in a movie, it would be more like one of those scenes referenced above. Blacks are often hit harder when it comes to any issues facing the country. There’s an adage that goes something like, “When America sneezes, black America catches a cold.” As we talk about the impact of the fiscal cliff on our country, the realization is that the impact is far greater for blacks. So as the country struggles to brace itself from going over the edge, blacks are struggling to get back up instead of hitting rock bottom.
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The fiscal cliff and its impact have been widely publicized with daily news stories, but the general understanding that the country could face another recession means little to so many minority families who never realized we were out of the first recession. Falling off the fiscal cliff would mean that the black community would be devastated and could be decimated economically. The black community has already lost significant wealth, due to the fact that black wealth is traditionally built through home ownership and many people lost homes, and now blacks could see cuts to programs that are increasingly vital in being able to keep their heads above water.
While programs like Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps/SNAP and other popular programs that blacks rely on are exempt from seeing immediate cuts on January 1, there are programs like unemployment insurance, Medicare, WIC (Women, Infants, and Children Program), and student aid programs like Federal Work Study, TRIO and GEAR UP that would be seriously impacted. The potential blow that would be dealt to blacks at all stages of life is too great to sit idly by.
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Just one example of how working class black families will be affected is illustrated in a handout from the White House:
A single African American mother with three young children working a full time job at minimum wage and earning $14,500 a year would see:
A tax increase of $1,725 because the Child Tax Credit would fall from $1,000 to $500 per child and the threshold for refunds would be more strict.
A tax increase of $670 because of the expiration of the Earned Income Tax Credit expansion for larger families.
The president has maintained that he’s not willing to make a deal on the backs of the middle class and Republicans have reportedly maintained that the tax cuts that would protect middle class families are only something they will support if the top 2 percent have their tax cuts extended as well. While these conversations happen, blacks are still dangling, wondering whether we will all fall down or whether the nation will be able to pull blacks back over the cliff.
Despite the fact that news outlets continue to report that there have been some Republicans who are willing to bend to the president’s plan, there has not been enough movement. It is not beneficial for the black community for the nation to go over the cliff. We must be proactive and call our congressional representatives. We have to email our stories to Congress and let them know how we will be impacted. Even if we are dangling, we still have power and we must use our voice to express our concerns and encourage others who we’ve elected to make a deal.