By Daniella Gibbs Leger | February 13, 2012
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Washington, D.C. — The president’s annual budget is an opportunity for the American people to clearly see what the goals and priorities of the administration are. Judging by the fiscal year 2013 budget released by President Obama today, this administration is focused on growing the middle class and continuing the fragile economic recovery in this tough budget environment. That means there’s a lot for communities of color to cheer in this budget.
People of color have been hit hardest by the current economic recession, both on the employment and housing fronts. And while there have been some recent bright spots in the employment numbers, there is still much work to be done.
The following are some programs that will be imperative to communities of color and the President’s budget addresses:
Education– the president’s budget invests money into grant programs that will help improve teacher programs at minority serving institutions. Given the current lack of teacher diversity as noted in a recent Center for American Progress paper, this is a program that is well timed.
Housing– To many Americans, owning a home was a basic part of the American Dream, and much of their personal wealth was tied up in their houses. This is especially true the case of people of color. And as Pew pointed out last year, the housing crisis helped cause some of the biggest wealth gaps ever seen. President Obama’s plan to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes will help not only individual homeowners but also the communities they live in by slowing down or reversing the neighborhood destabilizations that happen through multiple foreclosures.
Jobs for youth-Recognizing that the only way to ensure a bright future is to prepare our youth, the administration is investing in a series of programs to help low-income and at-risk youth connect to the labor market. Proposals include a $12.5 billion Pathways Back to Work Fund and a Workforce Innovation Fund aimed at incentivizing states to either come up with new ideas or replicate proven strategies for delivering better employment results.
Payroll Tax Cut Extension–The president also calls for extending the payroll tax cut through the end of the year. As CAP pointed out earlier, not extending the payroll tax cut would take money away from the communities who can afford it the least. Communities of color suffer from greater economic insecurity than the population at large, evidenced by higher unemployment rates and significant disparities in wealth. Fifteen million African Americans and 21 million Hispanics would see their paychecks maintain their increase from last year if a full extension is passed.
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