A report released by Democratic leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives says that the federal budget plan for fiscal year 2005 slashes spending for a broad range of programs benefiting African Americans. The report, titled The Bush Budget Shortchanges African Americans, was authored by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). It criticizes the Bush administration for draining federal coffers to pay for $1 trillion in tax cuts that mainly benefit the wealthy.
"In the face of historic unemployment, President Bush seeks to cut, if not completely eliminate, critical education, healthcare, housing, and small business development programs that help families and employers survive during difficult economic times," says CBC Chair Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.).
One of the prominent issues addressed by the report is unemployment. Since Bush took office, nearly 2.9 million Americans have lost their jobs. That number includes more than 1 million black Americans. An estimated 760,000 jobless workers have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits, and the budget proposal fails to extend long-term unemployment insurance.
Hard hit was the manufacturing sector, where 543,000 African Americans have lost their jobs. The Bush budget cuts two-thirds of the funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which provides small U.S. manufacturers with assistance ranging from plant modernization to employee training. Laid off workers will find it harder to retain or acquire new skills as the budget cuts $316 million from vocational education and community colleges and fails to increase spending for job training and employment programs. "One of the consequences of the massive increase in military spending is that it precludes spending for social programs that assist African Americans such...