President Barack Obama emphasized a “progressive” tax cut that will benefit black Americans in his video address to the State of the Black Union on Saturday.
In his prepared remarks released by the White House, Obama said his tax cut will provide a necessary spark to the receding economy, an economic principle traditionally associated with Republicans.
“We have also provided the most progressive tax cuts in history; 95 percent of working people will benefit,” he said. “We will create or save 3.5 million jobs and lift more than two million people out of poverty.
In his remarks, Obama also suggested that tax cut will lead to employment equality for black Americans, who currently face higher unemployment rates than the rest of the country. “These are policies that will make a big difference in the African American community,” he said.
“You know that tough times for America often mean tougher times for African Americans. This recession has been no exception. The unemployment rate among black Americans is a full five points higher than the rate among Americans as a whole.”
Obama has dubbed his tax cut “progressive” because it seeks to address inequalities in the tax code that developed during the Bush administration.
Obama’s budget calls for significantly raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, individuals who earn $200,000 or more per year or couples who earn $250,000 per year, through measures such as an increased capital gains tax rate, which was reduced by the Bush administration.
The Obama administration projects that those tax increases would bring in an additional $1 trillion to the government that will be used to help fund expanded government programs in areas such as healthcare that will benefit the middle and lower classes.
Obama’s tax plan and budget were heavily criticized by Republicans last week. The budget, they said, spends too much. By Obama’s own calculation, the deficit will rise from the current $1.3 trillion to $1.75 trillion.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), delivering the GOP’s response to Obama’s weekly radio and Internet address, said Democratic spending has gotten out of control. "It seems that every morning you pick up the newspaper, you’re reading about another multi-billion dollar government spending plan being proposed or even worse, passed," Burr said.
"The numbers are so large, and the deficits so staggering, it’s difficult for the average person to imagine how much money we’re talking about."
Obama’s remarks at the State of the Black Union also come at a time when race has again come to the forefront of American politics. In addition to his election as the first black American president, Obama’s cabinet has not shied away from discussing the state of racial relations in the country.
Earlier this month, Attorney General Eric Holder, the first black American to hold that post, called America a “national of cowards” afraid to discuss racial inequalities that continue to exist.
But aside from Obama’s remarks on unemployment inequality, Obama did not specifically discuss challenges facing the black American community.
Instead, he spoke broadly about the country’s problems and the desire for change he has seen across the country.
“I have seen that same hunger as I’ve traveled across our country among Americans united not by the color of their skin but by a shared determination to build a more perfect union; to not only revive this economy but to transform our country,” he said.
“That is what the American people demanded at the polls in November. And that is the work my administration has already begun,” he added.
“I am proud to say that we have done more in these past 30 days to bring about progressive change than we have in the past many years.”
Copyright 2009 The Hill