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Poor Out In The Cold

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The debate is just heating up about the so-called "compromise deal" worked out between President Barack Obama and Republicans on extending the Bush Era tax cuts for two years. The deal --" if that is what is can be called --" has sparked shrill acrimony on the Left as liberals and progressives alike view this as one more "sell out" by President Obama who seems unable to draw a line in the sand against a determined, reactionary Right-wing Republican Caucus.


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On the Right big business, even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that launched a series of negative attacks against Democrats during the mid-term elections, is pleased. As are people raking in $5 million. The Grand Compromise will also extend unemployment compensation for 13 months for poor, out-of-work Americans, the hapless victims of a recession predicated on corporate greed and avarice that has uncorked a long-festering, furious reaction from deeply frustrated labor and congressional progressives who hitherto had been reluctant to publicly feud with the president.


And while President Obama waxed eloquently in true Clintonian fashion as the defender of the poor, even in the best of economic times job disparities between Blacks, minorities and whites have always been a major headache in America. Oftentimes the nation's leaders --" both from the Republican and Democratic Parties --" have bolstered the rich and powerful, defended their financial interests at the expense of an expendable Black and minority population. So that in acutely difficult economic times, as now, when the gulf between rich and poor has become a great yawning abyss, it is unconscionable and obscene to even consider giving tax cuts and protections to the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.


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While President Obama's arguments as to why he was forced to compromise with Republicans certainly sound credible on the surface the end result is that no matter his good intentions this deal --" should it pass as is --" will eviscerate and obliterate any perception of fairness in America's economic policy. And worse yet, this deal or compromise or whatever it is called by the spin doctors of both political parties, will rend asunder the already fragile social fabric of the country. It will further extend the gap between rich and poor, haves and have nots. It will aggravate further the economic disparities between Blacks and Latinos and whites.


Against the backdrop of this "compromise deal" is the reality that in November 15.1 million Americans were unemployed. But that figure alone only tells part of the story. Among whites the unemployment rate is 8.9 percent --" something that has both Republicans and Democrats worried that if this statistic continues or grows the political backlash will be very punitive in 2012. Lost in the shuffle of a national 9 or 10 percent unemployment is the staggering 16 percent for Blacks and a 13.2 percent for Latinos.


With these dismal statistics the White House and Republicans in the Congress reached an agreement that will allow an extension of the controversial Bush-era tax cuts for everyone. President Barack Obama accurately said it was the best arrangement he could make with Republican leaders, who stood united to do nothing until Congress pushed through legislation that extended the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans that offers major benefits to America's super rich.

This immediately created a wave of angry rhetoric from the Left in Congress that folded into one package a condemnation of the spurious deal coupled with long-simmering doubts about President Barack Obama's timid leadership. Many pointed out that he might have boxed himself in by prematurely capitulating to Republican threats in the wake of the November 2 mid-term elections and gun-shy after the Democratic Party rout. The liberal left has pointed to the president's self-defeating shift in focus from job creation to deficit reduction, a favorite Republican agenda item, and his haste in promoting a new, NAFTA-style trade deal with South Korea that has created concerns about outsourcing American jobs during a recessionary time.

"Make no mistake, allowing taxes to go up on all Americans would have raised taxes by $3,000 for a typical American family and that could cost our economy well over a million jobs," President Obama said.

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Examining the Obama-GOP deal the unmistakable conclusion is that the complex tax framework is projected to keep or create 2.2 million new jobs over the two years of the tax cut extension.

The deal also includes additional things as expanded refundable tax credits that promise help for 12 million poor families, nearly half of them minorities. However, the bad news in the deal is that there will be 500,000 fewer jobs maintained or created because the president had to compromise on tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of American taxpayers. Those uncreated 500,000 jobs would have happened through a larger payroll tax break for all Americans. For unemployed Americans, especially Black and Latino Americans, this means fewer job opportunities.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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