July 12, 2011
In Washington, D.C., we have also seen the result of government cuts on African-American leaders who had to approve those cuts.
When Mayor Adrian Fenty stood behind schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, who fired hundreds of teachers, most of them African-American, the wards east of the Anacostia cut him dead. In 2010, Fenty was thrown out by many of the black voters who elected him.
Not only are African-Americans over-represented among government employees, these jobs are the backbone of the black middle class. For federal pay and benefits have in recent years far outstripped those of the private sector.
From 2000 to 2010, the number of federal employees earning over $150,000 increased tenfold. That number doubled in the first two years alone of the Obama administration. The average pay of federal civil servants in 2009, after benefits were factored in, was $123,000, twice the average pay and benefits of $61,000 in the private sector.
Indeed, because of the salaries and benefits that District of Columbia and federal employees receive, Washington is first among all metropolitan areas in per-capita income. And the three congressional districts north and west of the city in Maryland and Virginia are among the top 10 in the nation in average income.
The half-century since the Great Society was launched in the mid-1960s have been the salad days of the government sector. No segment of the population has benefited more than black America.
But with the U.S. government running its third deficit of 10 percent of gross domestic product, and Obama talking of cutting $4 trillion from future spending, those days are over. And as black America benefited immensely from the Great Society, so it is likely to hurt most as the cuts come.
Already, black voices are beginning to blame the black president whom fate has chosen to preside over the downsizing.
Obama, says Princeton professor Cornell West, “lacks backbone.” He is a “black mascot of Wall Street and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. … I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Barack Obama.”
Incredibly, the question must be asked.
Is this Democratic administration about to go to war with its base? Is black America souring on Barack Obama?