African American advocacy organizations the Urban League and the NAACP have teamed up in an attempt to bring attention to the devastating impact of unemployment on communities of color, and to argue that the last place to balance the budget is on the backs of America's poorest citizens.
Last week Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, and Marc Morial, president of the Urban League, had a meeting with President Obama to make their case. On July 26, both men talked to Michel Martin of NPR's 'Tell Me More' to bring their message to public radio listeners.
Republicans refusal to consider any increases in taxes, even for billionaires, is a "form of blackmail," Morial said.
"…if we're in a crisis and if we're talking about shared sacrifice in order to achieve shared prosperity or that there be meaningful shared sacrifice. The plan--the Tea Party plan is not about shared sacrifice. It's about placing burdens on the backs of the most vulnerable Americans and that is just a non starter for the National Urban League."
Jealous told Martin that fighting discrimination in employment is just as important as job creation for African Americans, and he urged Congress to learn from history.
"…the obstructionists in Congress really should be ashamed of themselves. I mean, we know how to get out of crises like this. We did it during the Great Depression. If we do the same thing now and we actually create jobs and get the economy going, we can back on our feet." Listen to the whole conversation here
Also on July 26, on the Comedy Channel Stephen Colbert poked fun at the conservative Heritage Center's recent poverty report that suggested American poverty isn't so bad because poor people own X-boxes, refrigerators and microwaves. Colbert interviewed Georgetown University Professor Peter Edelman, who explains that 6 million people in the United States have only food stamps for their total income while 44 million people currently need those benefits.
Why does the debate over the debt ceiling matter to anti-poverty advocates? Edelman points to the impasse over whether the ultra-rich should pay more taxes, saying, "I am worried about the fact that there are so many people in this country who are not paying their fair share." Watch the interview here
PHOTOS from top: Marc Morial, Ben Jealous