Bush to poor: Drop dead?
By Larry Elder
President George W. Bush, according to Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., doesn't care about the poor. Rangel recently called the president "our Bull Connor," referring to the racist former Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner who turned fire hoses and attack dogs on civil rights activists in the '60s. "If you're black in this country," said Rangel, "and you're poor in this country, it's not an inconvenience. It's a death sentence."
Once again, Rangel displays the unique ability -- apparently only possessed by Democrats -- to peer inside the president's soul, to conclude he lacks compassion and concern about the poor. For, one certainly cannot accuse the president of indifference to the poor based on his actions. Since Bush took office, according to the Heritage Foundation, federal anti-poverty spending -- including Medicaid, food and nutrition programs, housing, earned income tax credit and child credits, plus other programs -- increased 42 percent. This is nearly double the rate of increase under President Clinton. Some critics claim increased poverty has driven up poverty costs. But poverty rates have increased less than 1 percent under Bush, and remain lower than the average poverty rates under Clinton. Bush doesn't care about the poor? Let us count the ways.
Under No Child Left Behind, Bush increased federal spending on education -- in inflation-adjusted dollars -- from 2001 to 2005 by 38 percent. During the same period, Education for the Disadvantaged Grants (this includes Title I) -- the program designed to decrease the performance gap between urban and suburban school districts -- received an inflation-adjusted increase of 58 percent. Bush increased spending on Education for Homeless Children and Youth by an inflation-adjusted 57 percent during those same years. Under Bush, federal spending for bilingual education has increased 44 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars since 2001. Bush has increased by 52 percent (from 2001) funding for Pell Grants used at technical schools and community colleges.
President Bush's 2005 budget included 12.5 percent more funding than in 2001 for job training and employment assistance. This comes to a total of $23 billion for 30 programs in nine agencies. The Trade Adjustment Assistance Program pays for job training for those "displaced" as a result of free trade. Bush, in his first four years in office, more than doubled the inflation-adjusted dollars spent on this program. Community Service: The budget of the Corporation for National and Community Service -- which includes funding for former President Bill Clinton's pet project, AmeriCorps -- grew by an inflation-adjusted 76 percent from 1995 to 2005.
The federal share of Medicaid, the joint federal/state program, increased from $129 billion in 2001 to $176 billion in 2004, a 36 percent increase, averaging over 10 percent a year. Health research and regulation funding has gone from $42 billion in 2001 to $63 billion in 2004, a 48 percent increase.
Tracking of faith-based spending only began in 2003, and was not broken out separately before then. Under President Bush, 600 religious organizations received federal grants for the first time in 2003 and 2004, and faith-based groups received 8 percent of available social service grants in 2003, and 10 percent in 2004.
The Small Business Administration provided twice as many loans in 2004 than it did in 2001, providing over $19 billion in loans and venture capital to almost 88,000 small businesses. Over 30 percent of all loans and all loan dollars went to minorities in 2004, a 34 percent increase from 2003. From 2000 to 2004, the SBA backed more than 283,600 loans worth more than $63 billion, almost as much in those five years as the agency totaled in its first 40 years.
Half of all minority households are homeowners, an all-time high. In 2002, Bush vowed to increase minority homeownership by 5.5 million families by 2010. Bush pushed for programs on down payment assistance, and called for increased funding for housing counseling services. Bottom line, under President Bush, the nation has seen the largest overall increase in inflation-adjusted spending since President Lyndon B. Johnson. Indeed, much to the chagrin of fiscal conservatives, President Bush's budgets -- even excluding defense and homeland security spending -- make him the biggest spending president in 30 years. But, Bush doesn't care about the poor. There's a saying: We don't care how much you know, until we know how much you care. If one measures compassion by "outreach," the president placed more minorities and women in his government and with power positions than any president before him. If one measures compassion by spending, the president owes no one an apology. None of this matters, of course, as long as you're a Republican. If "love means never having to say you're sorry," being a Republican means always having to say it.
No Child Left Behind is Working for Black Americans
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is working for black American students all across America, according to the most recent “Nation’s Report Card,” a long-term view of student achievement released on July 14, 2005.
The report shows that in the last five years, black American students have made the greatest gains in the report’s 30-year history, narrowing the achievement gap between white and black American 9-year old students.
With NCLB that was pushed into legislation by President George W. Bush, we became the first nation to ever promise a quality education for all students and today we’re seeing the results of that promise as black American elementary school students posted strong gains in both reading and math. For example:
Reading scores for black American 9-year old students reached an all-time high, up an impressive 14 points since 1999 and 30 points better than 1971.
Math scores for black American 9-year old students reached an all-time high, up an impressive 13 points since 1999 and 34 points better than 1973.
Math scores for black American 13-year old students reached an all-time high, up an impressive 11 points since 1999 and 34 points better than 1973.
The achievement gap between white and black American 9-year old students in reading is at an all-time low.
The report also shows that we still have work to do, especially in our nation’s high schools. For 17-year olds, reading and math scores have remained relatively flat since the early 1970’s.
The “Nation’s Report Card,” is issued by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and is overseen by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), a bipartisan group of governors, state legislators, local and state school officials, educators, business representatives, and members of the general public. Obviously this is not just any old test. It’s the gold standard. It’s now the yardstick we use to measure learning across the country. It provides policymakers with data about what works and helps us make informed decisions that will help more children learn.
Let's Have Some New Thinking on Fighting Poverty
By Star Parker
Recommend to a friend Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
More than $7 trillion has been spent on poverty programs since Lyndon Johnson declared his "war on poverty" 40 years ago, with effectively zero impact on overall black poverty. Yet 40 years of failure doesn't seem to be enough to suggest to liberals, black and white, that their approach to poverty might be wrong.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and former Democratic Sen. John Edwards, among others, riding the post-Katrina poverty-in-America theme, are making predictable speeches calling for yet more government poverty programs. I'm not sure I want to let these folks off with an insanity plea, but you really have to wonder what it takes for liberals to add one and one and get two.
It's a bit hard to buy the claim that Katrina suddenly made Americans aware of poverty.
The Washington Post reported this week that the federal government has in place over 80 poverty-related programs on which we spend in the neighborhood of $500 billion annually. Given the 37 million Americans that the Census Bureau tells us live in poverty, my calculator tells me this comes out to $13,500 spent per poverty-stricken person. Hardly indifference.
Yet, says the Post, "despite" all this spending, tens of millions of Americans remain poor. And despite 40 years of bloated government and massive spending, with no impact on structural black poverty, Obama concludes we need even more of the same.
At least as incredible as the insistence of liberals on perpetuating failure is their absolute refusal to consider a single new idea.
Black politicians and black entertainers are jumping on President Bush for allegedly being "indifferent" and not caring about blacks. But they have fought proposals that the president brought to Washington that would tangibly improve the condition of black America.
One of the single biggest issues for blacks today is education. Few would argue that education is the key to every kid's future.
Black kids are trapped in hopeless, failing inner-city public schools. There is only one answer here, and that is school choice. We need voucher programs that would let black parents send their kids to school wherever they choose. The marketplace delivers the best products in the world to American consumers. We need to let that same marketplace deliver education.
The No Child Left Behind law was enacted with limited choice provisions. When a school loses accreditation, parents can choose another public school in the district. The challenge, under these constrained circumstances, is to find one. My assistant, with great difficulty, just moved her son to a new school after his school failed. She tells me about the change in this child as a result of showing up in a positive school environment every day.
No Child Left Behind had broad choice provisions as initially proposed by Bush. However, these provisions were gutted as a result of Democratic opposition.
Blacks themselves understand the importance of vouchers and choice, and regularly poll over 50 percent in favor of them. Yet the Congressional Black Caucus remains opposed to any plan that would give black parents choice and black kids an open field of alternatives for school.
Social Security private accounts is another issue, proposed by Bush, that the Black Caucus has fought to the detriment of its own community.
Black politicians, if they really wanted to lift the economic shackles off their own constituents, would be fighting to free them from the regressive payroll tax that deprives them of ownership and wealth creation. Despite the political smoke, this reform is for poor people, not rich people. The wealthy can pay the tax and have plenty spare cash left over to save in 401(k)s and IRAs. But for someone making $25,000 a year, that's not the case. The only cash that could be available for saving is taxed into Social Security.
But, here again, the Black Caucus tells blacks that it is too risky to get off the government plantation.
Any finance professor will make clear that over 40 years the risk of a savings account that is half bonds and half stock index fund is minimal and is virtually certain to produce retirement income many times greater than what Social Security promises (and does not have to give). So why do black political leaders, who supposedly care about black economic well-being, uniformly fight this?
Black liberals should give Einstein a little credit, even if he was white. It is indeed insane to repeat past failures and expect different results. It's time for black leaders to start believing in their own people.
Star Parker is president of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education and author of 'Uncle Sam's Plantation.’
President George W. Bush has enhanced education, job opportunities, health care, housing and equal rights for blacks.
RECORD MONEY HAS BEEN SPENT ON EDUCATION
RECORD MONEY HAS BEEN SPENT FOR JOBS
Lack of money isn't the problem with education. Accountability is the issue. Despite all of the money that had been spent on education over the years, the educational achievement of black children and the overall quality of urban public schools had failed to improve significantly. To solve the problem, President Bush pushed through the fully funded No Child Left Behind Act that tied spending to results -- educated children.
Democrats want to reward their special interest group, the teachers' union, with money, but not hold them accountable for black children being trapped in failed public schools. The war is between Democrats (who defend the miserable status quo) and black parents (who oppose sacrificing their children on the altar of the teachers' union). Urban black parents believe that school choice vouchers or "opportunity scholarships" will make a difference in helping their children learn and succeed. Even so, liberal Democrats, led by the teachers' union, are using their political muscle to stop black parents from obtaining the opportunity scholarships.
In 1997, the Republican-controlled Congress passed a $10 million opportunity scholarship bill for the District of Columbia, but President Clinton vetoed that legislation, showing that he cared more about the interest of the teachers’ union than the interest of black children. The District of Columbia has one of the lowest achievement levels, despite the fact that spending in the District of Columbia increased by 57%, and that city has one of the nation's highest per-pupil expenditures.
To his credit, President Bush pushed a plan that included $75 million for opportunity scholarship programs around the nation, including a pilot program in the District of Columbia, with eligibility requirements specifically targeted at poor families. This reform of the District's schools would not have been possible without the work of Mayor Anthony Williams as well as local citizens and black mothers such as Virginia Walden-Ford, a founding member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. African-American moms in the District held a demonstration for opportunity scholarships with Mrs. Walden-Ford, challenging liberal Democrats who send their own children to expensive private schools while denying poor black children a chance to get out of failing schools.
The Democratic Party’s fight to keep blacks from getting a good education today is their modern version of that party’s fight to prevent the education of blacks in the 1880’s. Most black Americans are not aware that it was Republicans who fought to establish and then funded the historically black colleges, including Morehouse College, Spelman College and Howard University.
A independent report in Florida showed that Governor Jeb Bush’s “A-plus” education accountability grading plan is working at making Florida’s students learn. Florida’s opportunity scholarship program was upheld by the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. The Court cleared the way for black children to have school choice. Now, the parents of poor and middle-income children have the choice of transferring their children out of chronically failing public schools to a better school, public or private, just like rich people do. A Manhattan Institute study of FCAT, part of the “A-plus” plan, showed that Florida’s efforts to help children in low performing schools is working very well.
President Bush’s “Jobs for the 21st Century” initiative helps blacks receive the training needed to get skilled jobs in the fastest growing industries. Close to 15 percent of small businesses are minorities, and the money for loans and grants will help more blacks become small business owners. The unemployment rate among black workers decreased from 10.9% in August 2003 to 10.4% in August 2004.
Contrary to claims by Democrats, all Americans benefited from Bush’s Jobs and Growth tax relief law where 108 million families got an average $2,500 more in tax relief. Poor blacks benefited from the tax cuts in two ways. First, 3.8 million more poor blacks were freed from the tax rolls, bringing the total to a record 40 million Americans who pay no income taxes, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. Second, poor blacks get a tax gift of $1,000 per child and an additional $1,658 on average under the Earned Income Tax Credit program. Therefore, a poor family with two children receives $3,658 each year from the government.
Child poverty rates under President Bush are at historically low levels. The overall child poverty rate fell from 20.5% in 1996 to 16.3% in 2001, a 20% decline. The poverty rate for black children fell to 24% in 2001, the lowest level ever recorded. Republican-inspired welfare reform legislation, that was vetoed twice by President Bill Clinton before he finally signed it in 1996, has decreased poverty in black communities by 54%. Sadly, the Democrats in the Senate blocked extension of the welfare reform legislation in April 2004.
$10 billion has been allocated for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance for the poor. Since 2001, access to community health centers that provide free medical care for the poor has been extended to 2.2 million additional Americans. This expansion is part of President Bush’s five-year plan to fund 1,200 new sites serving 16 million Americans. Under the new medical prescription drug law, seniors get $600 to help pay for drugs. In May 2003, President Bush signed into law the Global AIDS agreement providing $15 billion, three times more money, to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean.
In December 2003, President Bush signed into law the American Dream Down Payment Act that was sponsored by U.S. Representative Katherine Harris. This fund will help 40,000 families a year with down payment and closing costs. Minority home ownership rate set a new record of 51% in 2004, with 1.5 million blacks becoming home owners. Since 2001, President Bush has doubled the funding for housing counseling to help more than 550,000 families purchase their first homes.
Republican President Richard Nixon started Affirmative Action with the stellar assistance of black Republican Art Fletcher in 1969 with his Philadelphia Plan that set the first goals and timetables for awarding federal contracts. Democrats turned Affirmative Action into an unfair quota system, harming blacks with social promotions where many blacks were given diplomas even though they could not read, write or do math. In the recent University of Michigan case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected that school’s unfair quota system while upholding the Republican ideal of diversity. Republicans believe that hiring and selection should be color blind, based solely on qualifications, not on quotas or racial preferences. These beliefs were shared by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Frederick Douglass who were both Republicans. While the debate about Affirmative Action continues, President Bush has been busy walking the walk.
Quietly, President Bush has consistently practiced what he preached by appointing well-qualified blacks, Latinos, Asians and women to high level, key positions in his Administration.
Not only did President Bush place these people in high paying positions with large budgets, but he is also the first president to approve funding to produce America’s first National African American Museum and Cultural Center on the Mall in Washington, D.C.
Showing his commitment to diversity, Governor Jeb Bush has appointed the highest number of minorities to top level advisory positions than any governor in the history of the state of Florida. Governor Bush also implemented the One Florida initiative to unite Floridians behind the shared vision of opportunity and diversity. The goal is to increase opportunity and diversity in the state’s universities and in state contracting without using policies that discriminate or pit one racial group against another. Florida is the only state in the nation to guarantee admission to college to those public high school students graduating in the top 20 percent of their class. Students eligible under the Talented 20 program are guaranteed admission to one of eleven universities and are given priority for the awarding of funds from the Florida Student Assistance Grant, a need-based student assistance program. All students in Florida, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, economic circumstances or zip code have the opportunity to fully reach their highest educational aspirations.