Mr. President, with all due respect, your record of economic stewardship has been a nightmare and no amount of spin can change or erase this unfortunate fact. Whether this reality is caused by your misunderstanding of basic economic principles, your rigid and religious-like loyalty to political progressivism, or because you simply and intentionally give lip service to an economic situation that isn’t main priority, no one can be sure. But as the president of the country, credit and fault begins and ends with you.
As such, I’m writing this letter on behalf of America in an appeal to the one thing that didn’t contract during the economic recession and has managed to withstand your economic “recovery” -your ego. I’m thinking that if we as Americans appeal to that which you hold so dear, which your reactions have proven sensitive when challenged, there may be a possibility that you just might realize the massive error of your economic ways.
The employment situation is continuing to go in a direction that the country rather not, nor cannot afford to see. Though we saw another month where the employment rates continued to drop- no matter how your administration attempts to spin the news- clear-thinking Americans know- many from personal experience, the economic situation isn’t improving. Statistically, the BLS says the national unemployment rate dropped to 7.3% and the rate for Latinos dropped to 9.3%. Unfortunately, the rate for blacks has increased to 13% and the rate for black teens is now 38.2%.
Obviously, this isn’t cause for celebratory chest bumps or misrepresentations by your press secretary. The labor force participation rate is at a thirty-four year low at 63.4% and has been under 64% for nineteen straight months. Ninety million Americans are no longer in the labor force; teen unemployment is at record lows and almost a million people have given up hope of finding a job because of the weak job market. This also says nothing about the more than two hundred-fifty companies that have been forced to reduce employee hours and actual employment in proactive attempts to comply with your signature legislation the misnamed Affordable Care Act.
As captain of this rudderless ship Mr. President, more Americans are on disability insurance than there are people living in New York City. Reinforcing this sad and unfortunate reality, the Cato Institute notes that federal welfare programs in 35 states provide more of a financial incentive than actually working. In 13 of these states, the welfare equivalent is above $15 per hour. In your homes state of Hawaii, welfare recipients receive the equivalent of almost $61,000 pre-tax income per year in a state where minimum wage is $7.50 an hour and the median salary is just above $36, 000.
Mr. President, since you were elected in 2008, the median family income has dropped for most Americans- for whites there’s been a 3.6% decline, for Hispanics 4.5% decline and for blacks, a 10.9% decline. But that’s not all. Your economic policies have also resulted in a spike in the poverty rate, particularly distressing for blacks as it’s almost 26%. This is in combination with the black labor force participation rate being at 61.4% and an unemployment rate that has been continually near or at 13% during your presidency. According to the National Urban League’s 2012 State of Black America, in most statistical measures the economic gains that blacks have made during the past thirty years- particularly as a result of the economic policies of Ronald Reagan- have been wiped out as a result of the recession and the so-called recovery that followed. As a result, though the middle class has been negatively affected by your policies, the black middle class has been particularly hardest hit.
Mr. President, these statistics aren’t abstract numbers; they represent real people who continue to press on despite losing hope- in a real and sustained economic recovery- and faith in you as our leader. These prolonged, negative economic indicators are a confirmation in many minds of your unpreparedness for office.
Many will continue to excuse your lack of leadership qualities, preferring to lay the blame for the economy on everything from obstinate Republicans to the repercussions of slavery. You yourself have blamed your poor stewardship on the obstruction of “phony scandals.” Sir, these excuses, characterized by the ‘soft bigotry of low expectations’ does you no favors; actually they further expose your inability and reluctance to accept responsibility and embrace leadership. It’s precisely why the American public no longer trusts what you say or what you do. It’s also why you have been found wanting as a leader in the international community.
These critiques aren’t because of your blackness but rather your ineffectiveness; the frustration is palpable. In the spirit of Rev. King, you’re rightly being judged on the content of your character- and the actions brought forth from it, not by the color of your skin.
Mr. President, again, we appeal to your ego. History may not be as kind to you as the bubble you currently reside. Being the first black president of the United States is historical and it’s a remarkable testament to the character of the American ethos. But being “the first black” simply isn’t enough. The novelty has worn off and it’s time you actually do something of substance to warrant the reverence in which you see yourself and which American posterity will remember you. You have three years left and the clock is ticking.