By Gary A. Johnson – Founder & Publisher, Black Men In America.com
September 5, 2016
One of the topics that consistently comes up in conversations that I have with friends and colleagues is whether or not black people have prospered or been hurt by President Obama’s economic and social policies. That depends on who you ask and what you want to believe. This article is about the President’s policies. This is not about Barack Obama and Michelle Obama and the great role models they have been as a married couple and as parents who are raising two wonderful and well-behaved daughters.
This article is a “prop for discussion” about the President’s policies.
According to most economists, the economic policy of the Obama administration is a combination of tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and increased public services such as scientific research, infrastructure, health care reform and education meant to boost the economy and future prospects. The President advocates using government regulations to stem what he believes to be crony capitalism. and tax revenue to stabilize and promote economic growth.
Critics claim that the President wants to “redistribute wealth” and take from the rich and give to the poor.
What does all of that mean? Has that policy been effective? Let’s explore this and see what we can conclude.
Donald Trump, Sean Hannity, Larry Elder, Tavis Smiley and former NAACP president Ben Jealous are among those who have stated that blacks have fared worse under President Obama and his policies.
A recent Gallop poll, Mother Jones and President Obama contend that blacks have done well under his policies. Who do you believe?
The topic was raised again on Sunday, September 4, when rapper turned mogul Sean “P Diddy” Combs said on Rev. Al Sharpton’s MSNBC television show, “This is politics. You put somebody in office you get in return the things that you care about for your communities. I think we got a little bit shortchanged. That’s not knocking the president. …He’s done an excellent job, you know, but I think it’s time to turn up the heat because the black vote is going to decide who is the next president of the United States.”
Combs who recently opened a charter school in Harlem is an Obama supporter who also donated money to Hillary Clinton’s New York Senate race, wants black people to get something tangible for their political support.
The polls say one thing and the facts say something else. I did some research, probably not enough to satisfy everyone, but there’s enough empirical facts and data to help you make decision one way or the other. Keep in mind there is a difference between an opinion poll and facts. When it comes to this President, my experience has been that some people ignore the facts and believe what they want to believe.
In an effort to be transparent, I will share my position. Economically, I suffered the first 2 years of President Obama’s time in office and prospered since 2010. In fact, 2016 is shaping up to be my best year ever. My business was crippled as a result of the terrorist attack that occurred on 9/11.
So let’s look at the polls and the data. A new Gallup poll published in September 2016 that measures the well-being of Americans, most people across all racial and ethnic groups actually say their lives have largely improved under President Barack Obama.
“The percentage of US whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians who are thriving have all increased during the Obama era,” Gallup reported.
The poll asked participants to register whether they believed they were “thriving, struggling, or suffering” and found that 55.4 % of Americans considered themselves to be “thriving”—the highest percentage recorded by Gallup since it started measuring this evaluation nine years ago. Blacks reported their lives improved under Obama’s first term but declined during his second term.
Broadcaster and author Tavis Smiley, a longtime critic of President Obama has claimed for years that black people have lost ground in every major economic category. Based on the Obama administration’s statistics by the most basic economic-performance metrics — with one key exception — black Americans are worse off now than when Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009. The one bright spot is the unemployment rate. For black Americans overall, that number from the Bureau of Labor Statistics has decreased by about 30%.
During Obama’s tenure, the percentage of black Americans struggling below the poverty line has increased, according to the most recent Census Bureau data, from 25.8 in 2009 to 26.2 in 2014 — up 1.6 percent. Real median income among black households during those years, according to the Census Bureau, sank from $35,954 to $35,398 — down 1.5 percent.
The number of black people on food-stamps has grown from 7,393,000 to 11,699,000, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports — up 58.2 percent. Also, from Obama’s oath of office through the fourth quarter of 2015, the percentage of black Americans who own homes decreased from 46.1 %to 41.9 %, according to the Census — down 9.1 %.
“After seven years of President Obama’s experiment with bigger government, more spending, and higher taxes, the result is an economy that is under-performing and denying opportunity to millions of Americans,” lamented House Budget chairman Tom Price (R., Ga.).
The 2015 State of Black America Report, Urban League president Marc Morial complained that “Black America remains in a recession and remains in crisis when it comes to jobs and the economy.” He continued: “Black unemployment is twice that of white unemployment. Wages are stagnant. Many people who are working are simply not earning what they need or should earn to make ends meet.” The Urban League’s National Equality Index found black Americans going backwards economically, from 57.4 % equality with whites in 2009 to 55.8 % in 2015 — down 2.8 %.
Here are some basic facts about life in black America under President Barack Obama written by Demetrius Minor of the Independent Journal Review.
- In spite of Obama’s $275 billion in housing-market bailouts, home ownership has waned.
- In the first quarter of 2009, 67.3% of Americans owned homes. By the first quarter of 2014, the Census Bureau figure was 64.8%.
- Black home ownership has sagged from 46.1% in 2009 to 43.3% in 2014.
- The poverty rate for blacks is now 25.8%.
- Fewer than half of young black men are working a full-time job.
- The black workforce is decreasing, down from 58.6% in June 2007 to 52.8% in August 2012.
- The median minority family’s income is now almost fifth lower than it was when Obama took office with a net worth of just $18,100.
- In contrast, white median wealth has increased by 1% to $142,000.
- In 2009, white households were 7 times richer than black households. Now, white households are 8 times richer.
Conservative columnist and radio show host Larry Elder wrote about the increase in black poverty under Obama last year. In 2009, when Obama took office, the black poverty rate was 25.8 percent. As of 2014, according to Pew Research Center, the black poverty rate was 27.2 percent.
There is more data that can make the argument one way or the other. What do you think? Have you been better off under President Obama’s policies?
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Gary A. Johnson is the Founder of Gary A. Johnson Company & Associates, LLC, a management training and consulting company. The company manages a variety of Internet and digital media enterprises including Black Men In America.com, one of the most popular web sites on the Internet, Black Men In America.com Dating and the Black Men In America.com Syndicated Blog. In addition, the company manages Homework Help Page.com, an educational resource site for children, college students and parents.