How the Sequester Could Hurt Black People

4798For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Voters have twice elected an African-American president, and Republicans have twice responded with obstinance -- by waging an intellectual civil war. Voter-suppression efforts were insufficient to deliver a Romney victory, but strategically gerrymandered districts guaranteed that Speaker John Boehner and his Republican-dominated House could continue to serve as the proverbial thorn in Obama's side.
The sequester measure -- first designed as a way to force both political parties to agree on a grand bargain of budget cuts and new revenues -- is now being used to stifle momentum gained from the president's re-election victory and effectively redirect the political discourse away from gun control and immigration reform and toward spending cuts and smaller government. As a result, billions in automatic cuts to defense and discretionary spending took effect on March 1, after GOP members in Congress refused to negotiate on what economists are calling a "stupid" and "irresponsible" way to govern the world's largest economy. If unresolved, sequestration may cost upwards of 750,000 jobs and shave 1.25 percent off the nation's gross domestic product, making a double-dip recession all but certain.

Who will this affect the most? Black, brown, poor and working-class families still struggling to find work and wrestling with unresolved mortgage debts.

This is where the sequester crosses the color line.

African Americans remain disproportionately unemployed and underemployed -- at a rate of 13.2 percent, nearly double the 6.8 percent unemployment rate of their white counterparts. During the 2012 presidential campaign, the issue was hotly debated. Republicans saw it as a way to dissuade Obama's most loyal constituency, arguing that his economic policies had failed to benefit them. The GOP's aim was to breed apathy and discourage enough blacks from turning out to vote.

Democrats instead highlighted the steady drop in black unemployment -- from its recession high of 16.7 percent -- and reminded voters of the consequences of returning to Bush-era economic policies. But the truth is, the 2-to-1 disparity wasn't caused by George W. Bush or the Great Recession -- it has existed since 1972, the first year the data tracking began. The recession only exacerbated the problem.

Source: The Root | Edward Wyckoff Williams 
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