The bombs which burst in Birmingham, Ala., 48 years ago this month are exploding in Congress today. "Bombingham" as many referred to the city was the hot bed of recalcitrance toward racial equality and civil rights for all Americans. The ultimate low point of civility and cultural disdain was the bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church on Sunday, September 15, 1963, three weeks after Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his most famous speech in Washington, D.C. at the Lincoln Memorial. Just as Sunday School was ending prior to the morning worship a powerful bomb placed by cowards the night before exploded killing four little girls and injuring many more.
Today in Congress are the same type of domestic terrorists except 48-years ago the garb was bib overalls, while today darks suits are the dress code. Whatever the clothing, the un-civil code is the same—barbarian blockage of progressive policy. Then we called them racists. Today we call them Republicans. The bombastic nature of Republican opposition to every legislative proposal offered by the Congressional Black Caucus and the White House is nonetheless catastrophic. "No to everything" cannot be a constructive chorus to improve the employment rate in the United States.
I am reminded of lyrics to a Rhythm and Blues song of the 1970's, by Billy Preston which said, "Nothing from nothing leaves nothing….." If Republicans do nothing to enact job-producing legislation, then, predictably, nothing will improve for the jobless. However, Republican leaders have shamelessly contended that their jobs plan begins with little or no taxes for the rich, and rolls down to the unemployed in the form of new jobs. Not true. Beginning with Ronald Reagan, through the Bush years, supply-side economics has been refuted with few new American jobs created. In fact, a Bush-era tax break for American companies that located oft-shore and hired foreign workers has had a deleterious impact on the American economy. In sum, "trickle down" economics does not work for the working class in America. If the Republican argument were factual, American workers would be on the job.
With such an un-civil backdrop to the present political stage President Obama is attempting to create a climate where Americans—of all colors and creeds—can return to work and stimulate the economy. This week the White House forwarded to Congress The American Jobs Act, aimed at legislating ways to begin the process of putting America back to work. Some of the main provisions of the proposal are:
• Extension of payroll tax cut for nearly 20 African American workers would place more money in the pockets of workers
• Infrastructure improvements for urban school districts and areas hit hard by home foreclosures
• Extension of unemployment insurance for 1.4 African Americans
• Support for summer and year-round jobs for youth
• Tax cut for business that hire long-term unemployed
While the President has a plan on Congress' table we must deluge Congressional leaders with phone calls and emails to express the need to pass The American Jobs Act as a first step toward putting America back to work.
Therefore, call your members of Congress at 202.225.3121 (U.S. House) or 202.224.3121 (U.S. Senate) and encourage them to vote "yes" on The American Jobs Act. If ordinary Americans do nothing to influence lawmakers we cannot expect extraordinary progress to be made in the job market.
Gary L. Flowers is the Executive Director & CEO of the Black Leadership Forum, Inc.