GOP cutbacks mean more pain for Blacks, Latinos

( – Republicans have seized the U.S. House of Representatives and are promising to enact strict economic measures to cut spending and curb the federal deficit. But to a new report released by United for a Fair Economy warns the GOP will only push more Americans into unemployment and widen the economic gap between the races.

“State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom?” indicates that four decades after the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.–with its call for equality, social and economic justice–Blacks still earn 57 cents for each White dollar earned and Latinos earn 59 cents for each White dollar. Authors say their report is titled “Austerity for Whom?” because the Republican Party and activist Tea Party movement economic agendas will have a disproportionate impact on communities of color.


When Republican officials speak about austerity, they generally mean tightening the belt of government through cuts to public service with layoffs on federal, state and local levels, observed report co-author and United for a Fair Economy communications coordinator Mazher Ali said. Those fortunate enough to keep their government jobs will suffer more furloughs and pay freezes, he said.

“Cuts to government are just bad to the national economy as a whole but they will disproportionately affect people of color because Black workers in particular are heavily represented.They are 70 percent more likely than the general work force to be working in the federal government, 30 percent more likely at the state level, and still 20 percent more likely to be city and local employees,” Mr. Ali told The Final Call.

According to the 8th annual State of the Dream report, 40 states are already expecting $113 billion in budget gaps this year and total deficits once all state budget estimates are tallied will likely exceed $140 billion.

In addition to shrinking government through reducing public sector jobs and services, the report indicates three things tied to the GOP austerity plan that will increase economic pain for Blacks and Latinos: These include tax cuts for the wealthy, shredding the Social Security safety net and other programs, and opposing stimulus funding and public investments.

For instance, while older Whites might have other significant income sources besides Social Security to get them through their retirement years, 60 percent and 65 percent of older Blacks and Latinos, respectively, rely on Social Security for 80 percent of their retirement income.

With the rise of the Tea Party, a powerful neo-conservative movement, government has become the punching bag in a time when people are enduring a great economic recession and need help the most, Mr. Ali said.

The Jan. 14 report’s first recommendation is for government to realize the vital role it should play in developing communities and building communities and a more inclusive society, he said.

“In terms of policies, right now it’s where are the jobs? We need to be reinvesting in our people, in our communities, and domestic programs that will have lasting benefits for everyone,” Mr. Ali said. This includes developing and maintaining infrastructure and other public works that promote commerce and investing in education so children continue to make America an engine for innovation, he explained.

Other report recom-mendations urge the government to reduce unproductive federal spending, strengthen unions and workers’ rights to organize and protect public employees through more state funding.

The State of Dr. King’s dream in 2011 is that America is at a major crossroads where racial inequality is compounded by general economic inequality, Mr. Ali told The Final Call.

“It’s bad for society. It’s certainly bad for this country and we’re at a point now where this is a defining moment in history … We can make a choice to do what has been done or we can start making some bold moves that are more in line with a renewed commitment to Dr. King’s vision of a racially equal society,” he added.