Obama’s sense of ‘fairness’ is unfair to minorities

David Cohen Former Deputy Assistant Sec. of the Interior
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It’s understandable that so many people in minority communities identify with President Obama. First African-American president. First person of color to become president. I took personal pride in another one of President Obama’s historic milestones: first mixed-race president. Around the time that Barack Obama was a half-black kid being raised by his single mom in Polynesia (Hawaii), I was a half-Polynesian kid being raised by my single mom in a black neighborhood. I identify with President Obama in many ways, and understand why he inspired so many people back in 2008.

But it’s no longer 2008. It’s 2012, and people are suffering. And as much as people may like President Obama, we have to be honest enough to admit that our communities are suffering because of his policies. How much more pain are we willing to inflict upon our communities just because we want to root for this president? We have to judge this president not by the color of his skin, but by the results of his policies.

President Obama’s policies have been devastating to minority communities and to the most vulnerable in our society. America is suffering through the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression: Unemployment has been stuck over 8 percent for almost three-and-a-half years under Obama, after averaging only 5.3 percent under President George W. Bush. Minority communities have been hit much harder: African-American unemployment is 14.4 percent, and black youth unemployment is an obscene 44.2 percent. Latino unemployment is 11 percent. I recited these figures recently to a gathering of Pacific Islanders in Nevada, which is being crushed by the highest unemployment rate and worst housing crisis in the country. They didn’t need to hear these numbers to know that their community is hurting. If you had tried to tell these folks, three-and-a-half years into the Obama presidency, that their ongoing misery was President Bush’s fault, they would rightly have considered that to be an insult to their intelligence.

Unable to defend his own record, the president has launched an avalanche of attack ads that even the liberal Washington Post has decried as dishonest. With even many of President Obama’s strongest supporters praising the high ethics and excellent track record of Bain Capital, the bottom line is this: If you have a problem with Bain, you have a problem with private equity; if you have a problem with private equity, you have a problem with capitalism; if you have a problem with capitalism, you have no clue what it takes to create jobs and help poor people escape poverty.

At a time when we need to do everything possible to make it easier to create jobs in America, President Obama has done everything possible to make it harder — and those who are struggling the most in this economy, the people who really need jobs, are the ones who are hurt the most by his policies.

Despite his best intentions, President Obama has consistently thwarted job creation. He has created a hostile regulatory environment that has made businesses afraid to expand and banks afraid to lend. Investors are afraid to make job-creating investments: the threat of higher taxes makes it harder to justify risking money in an abysmal economy. Employers are afraid to hire because they have no idea how much Obamacare will increase the cost of each additional worker.

Minority activists typically pride themselves on putting the interests of “the people” ahead of the interests of businesses, investors and banks. It is foolhardy, though, to treat businesses, investors and banks as the enemy. When they’re scared (and like it or not, President Obama is scaring the heck out of them), minority communities are devastated most of all by the resulting failure to create jobs.

The president’s job-killing policies cause great hardship today, but his negligence on the debt crisis could destroy our future. President Obama ran up more debt in three years than President Bush ran up in eight. Our record debt will cripple the ability of our children and grandchildren to use government as a means to help people. The most vulnerable in our society — the people who must depend on government the most — will suffer the most when government no longer has the means to protect them. We now must spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year just to pay interest on our debt. That money cannot be used to make life better in America — instead, it is being used to make life better in China and other foreign nations that hold our debt.

Polls show that a majority of Americans agree with President Obama’s proposals to tax the “rich.” I strongly disagree, but it’s not because I feel sorry for rich people. Rich people will be just fine; if you raise their taxes, they’ll still be rich. But they’ll invest less, and hence fewer jobs will be created, and hence the rest of us will be poorer. That’s why President Obama, before he was running for re-election, said that “the last thing you want to do is raise taxes” on anyone — including the wealthy — in a down economy. That’s why President Clinton slashed the tax on investment, the capital gains tax. That created jobs and strengthened the economy. Tax revenues actually went up because Clinton’s tax cuts helped the economy boom. Everybody won.

President Obama wants to do the opposite of what President Clinton did. He wants to double the capital gains tax rate. Ernst & Young, the respected, nonpartisan accounting firm, has determined that President Obama’s proposals to tax the “rich” would cause our economy to lose 710,000 jobs — this at a time when all of us, especially minority communities, desperately need the economy to create more jobs. Ernst & Young further found that the president’s proposals would reduce wages, reduce investment and reduce economic output. President Obama’s proposals would thus make all of us, collectively, less rich. The rich can afford to be less rich; the rest of us cannot. And the poor can afford it least of all.

So why would President Obama propose policies that would inflict further harm on those who are struggling? Certainly not to reduce the debt. The revenue that Obama’s tax hikes would raise would only be enough to fund the federal government for eight-and-a-half days. No, the reason that the president is proposing these tax hikes is to promote “fairness.”

So let’s get this straight: In the name of fairness, President Obama would make it much harder for folks who are struggling the most in this economy to find jobs. In the name of fairness, President Obama would lower our wages. If that’s “fairness,” then maybe we should give unfairness a try.

If you desperately need a job to support your family, which would you rather have: (a) a job, or (b) the satisfaction of knowing that some rich guy you’ve never met will have to pay more taxes? If you chose (b), I feel sorry for your family — and you should vote for Obama.

For those of us who are having trouble grasping President Obama’s concept of fairness, we should consider Gov. Romney’s: “We will stop the unfairness of urban children being denied access to the good schools of their choice; the unfairness of politicians giving taxpayer money to their friends’ businesses; the unfairness of requiring union workers to contribute to politicians not of their choosing; the unfairness of government workers getting better pay and benefits than the taxpayers they serve; and we will stop the unfairness of one generation passing larger and larger debts on to the next.”

With apologies to my Democrat friends who think they own the word, Gov. Romney’s idea of “fairness” is much fairer than President Obama’s.

David B. Cohen served in the administration of President George W. Bush as U.S. Representative to the Pacific Community, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He is the author of Left-Hearted, Right-Minded: Why Conservative Policies Are The Best Way To Achieve Liberal Ideals.