PJ Media

African-Americans' Worst Economic Enemies

An Associated Press story appearing Wednesday morning claimed that Barack Obama’s presidency “has been marred by racist backlash.” Naturally, the cowards at AP didn’t specifically identify the source or nature of the alleged “backlash,” because to do so would expose the claim as a lie.

Earlier this week, Jesse Jackson did the lying for them. Jackson told Politico that he “absolutely” believes that the Republican Party’s opposition to Obama’s policies is motivated by race, and that “the tea party is the resurrection of the Confederacy.”

The economic scoreboard says otherwise.

The frightening data recently published by Sentier Research, a group of former Census Bureau employees who have been tracking monthly household income since the turn of the century, make it obvious that it is economically devastated African-Americans who should be absolutely furious with Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in Washington.

Martin Luther King, whose seminal “I Have a Dream” speech 50 years ago this week inspired and energized millions, did more during his life than any other single person in American history to advance the opportunities of “colored Americans” — a term he used in some form over a dozen times in that speech, while using “black” only four — to have the “inalienable rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness” our founders promised.

It may be correct, as Politico’s Glenn Thrush asserted on Tuesday, that Barack Obama is behind only King on the list of “most important black leaders in American history.” But there is also little doubt, with the assistance of a two-year head start provided by fellow congressional Democrats, that Obama’s policies have visited more economic harm on African-Americans than any president in my lifetime.

Sentier’s report shows that since the recession officially ended in June 2009, African-American household income, defined as “before-tax money income,” has plunged by three times as much as everyone else’s (dollar amounts are current):


The average median income decline for all non-black households over the four years involved is roughly 3.6 percent, only one-third of the decline African-American households have seen.

Note that the declines for “colored Americans” other than blacks differed very little from that seen by whites.

It gets worse.

Combining Sentier’s work with Census Bureau data through 2011, the most recent available, shows that African-Americans’ real household income has dropped by over 16 percent since 2007, and by over 20 percent since the statistic’s high-water mark in 2000 (for the table, I conservatively used a drop of 10 percent during the past four years instead of 10.9 percent for blacks, did not change the declines in other groups at all, and assumed that Sentier’s June readings will be the same as the overall results for all of 2013):


Though there was a bit of a decline during the early and middle portions of the past decade, the steep descent in real incomes, especially for African-Americans, didn’t really begin in earnest until the year after the Democrats consolidated their power in Congress. They then proceeded to talk down the economy during the 2008 presidential campaign, and worsened the recession’s impact during the Bush 43-Obama presidential transition.

Once they controlled the White House and both houses of Congress, Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid whooped through a stimulus plan which didn’t stimulate anything except previously unseen levels of deficit spending and greater levels of welfare program dependency, especially among African-Americans.

In March 2010, against the will of a large majority of the American people, they then passed the statist healthcare scheme known as Obamacare, an enterprise which shows every sign of becoming the most incompetently implemented government program in U.S. history — assuming it even gets off the ground.

There is no longer any meaningful dispute that the legislation has caused employers to think twice about taking on new employees, especially those who have been unemployed for some time. Companies are also hiring far more part-time and temporary workers than they have in the past, and in some cases even busting full-timers down to part-time, all to avoid Obamacare’s employer costly mandate dictating that anyone who works 30 or more hours per week must be covered by an employer-sponsored health plan. The likelihood that blacks are bearing a disproportionate brunt of the impact of this shift is very high.

Thus, what has happened during the past six years, during which we have seen median African-American household income fall to its lowest level since 1993, is not the result of Republican or conservative policies.

Historically, the Republican Party happens to be the one whose very founding was based on ending slavery and whose first president won the war which freed the slaves. It was the Republican Party whose members provided the margin of victory for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, defeating doggedly determined southern white segregationist Democrats in the process.

More recently, the fastest gains in African-American household income in the past 46 years listed in the Census Bureau’s annual income and poverty publication have occurred during the following time periods:

  • From 1983 to 1989, up 16.7 percent in real terms, outpacing the nationwide gain of 12.9 percent. The supply-side economic policies of Ronald Reagan drove this improvement.
  • From 1996 to 2000, up 15.6 percent in real terms, blowing away the overall national gain of 8.3 percent. This was primarily the result of Congress’s GOP-led welfare reform, which motivated millions from all races who had been on the government dole to find and keep work. In April 2000, the black unemployment rate reached 7.0 percent, still the lowest level ever seen. All Democratic President Bill Clinton contributed to this is the reluctant signature he applied to the 1996 welfare reform law in order to save his reelection viability after he had previously vetoed it several times.

Though there’s no space for it here, as Christopher Orlet of the American Spectator noted last week, the social fabric scoreboard would be even more lopsided in conservatives’ and family values advocates’ favor than the one tied to economics. Republicans, who have lost virtually all meaningful influence in most of the nation’s largest urban areas, have largely been limited to standing by, warning of the fiscal and social carnage to come, and watching helplessly alongside tea party sympathizers as it has arrived.

The time for African-Americans to correctly identify their real friends and enemies is way overdue.