Romney Economic Policy Would Hurt African Americans

"If I am president, job one for me will be creating jobs. I have no hidden agenda. If you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him," declared Mitt Romney during his speech at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) convention. However, the many policies that Romney has been advocating are likely to worsen the economic situation for many in the African American communities instead of “making things better” as he claimed.

The financial collapse has had a devastating impact on the African American communities.  This impact has been felt in two major areas: housing and unemployment. Because of the long history of racial discrimination, most African Americans did not have the opportunity to accumulate wealth in the same way as their white counterparts. In the past few generations, the main way that African Americans had managed to accumulate wealth is through their home equity. For most Americans, their home is one of their key assets. But in the case of African Americans, the relatively small wealth that they accumulated in the past 40 years is largely tied to the equity on their homes according to an article by Melvin Oliver. The same piece pointed out that while “one in 25” white households will be impacted by foreclosure, one in 10 blacks will eventually lose their home.

Many states have been greatly affected by the financial crisis. Unlike the federal government, most states are required by law to balance their budgets. Thus, many of those states have engaged in drastic cuts in the public sector. Those draconian cuts have led to more than 600,000 job losses. The public sector has always been a major employer of African Americans because they are more likely to face hiring discrimination in the private sector. Hence, the massive job layoffs that occurred in a number of states have had a greater impact on African Americans. The shedding of jobs in the public sector that has occurred in the past few years is a major contributor to the high unemployment rate (14.6 %) among African Americans.

The many policies that Romney has been advocating during his campaign would not only fail to address the issues facing the African American communities but could very well make things worse. Despite the severe toll that the mortgage meltdown is having on most Americans, particularly African Americans, Romney’s main approach to the problem is to allow the foreclosure crisis to “run its course and hit bottom.” This wait-and-see policy would do next to nothing for many African Americans who have seen their only asset losing most, if not all of its value.

Romney has been criticizing the Obama administration for sluggish job growth. He claimed that his policies would create more jobs. At the same time, he has embraced a policy of austerity, which would result in major cuts in government spending. Such drastic cuts would force states to engage in even more layoffs. Moreover, he lambasted president Obama for wanting to hire more firemen, police officers and teachers. Since the public sector has been employing a large number of African Americans, the continuing layoffs in that sector would certainly augment their unemployment rate.

Romney has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. It has been estimated that Obamacare would provide insurance to seven millions African Americans. More importantly, Obamacare has already delivered tangible results for many people in the community. For instance, about 2.5 million black seniors, who have Medicare, have been getting free diabetic screenings and more than 5 million African Americans who are already insured through their own health insurance would also receive free preventive services. The health care law also provides coverage to more than 400,000 “African American young adults.” Last but not least, Obamacare assures that more than 10 million black Americans would not be faced with “lifetime limits.” Simply put, the law ensures that people with health insurance cannot be dropped by their insurance companies, especially when they are undergoing treatments.

The policies that Romney has espoused during his campaign would have, at best, a tangential impact on the African American communities. In fact, his laissez faire approach when it comes to the housing crisis coupled with the drastic cuts in government spending that he advocated along with his vow to repeal Obamacare would aggravate the situation for African Americans.  Therefore, his claim that he would “make things better” for African Americans as president is nothing more than empty campaign promise.