As we concentrate on Black History each February, we often place more emphasis on past achievements of previous generations – ignoring more recent history. Take a look at the progress made in the first decade of the 21st century.
From 2001 to 2008, President George W. Bush appointed more black Americans to high-level positions than any president in our nation’s history and spent record money on education, job training, small business development, and health care. The number of new businesses started was an incredible 4.7 percent increase, and over $24 billion was spent for small business loans and grants.
Federal spending on education increased nearly 40 percent, with record expenditures for important programs that affect black Americans. The No Child Left Behind Act, a civil rights measure designed to achieve education reform, was fully funded to the tune of $13.1 billion. President Bush also spent $18.8 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). Spending on Pell Grant funding nearly doubled, helping more than 5.5 million students attend college in the 2008-09 school year – 1.2 million more students than were assisted by Pell Grants in the 2001-2002 school year. Further, President Bush supported the U.S. Supreme Court’s University of Michigan affirmative Action decision that upheld the use of race as a factor in admission determinations, but overturned the unfair quota system used by the University of Michigan.
During President Bush’s tenure, more than 1,200 community health centers opened or expanded nationwide, which helped provide treatment to nearly 17 million poor people. The number of people covered by affordable and portable Health Savings Account-eligible plans increased 35 percent from 2007 to 2008, and $10 billion was spent for Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance for the poor. Also, the number of uninsured children under the age of 18 declined by 800,000 from 2001 to 2007 according to a federal survey. More than 40 million Americans were provided with better access to prescription drugs through the creation of the market-based Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit.
More than $114 billion in resources — $127 billion including tax relief — was provided to the Gulf Region. The Bush administration secured $7.1 billion from Congress for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to repair and enhance the levees, make the entire hurricane protection system better and stronger, and begin to restore the wetlands surrounding the Greater New Orleans Area. Since the Gulf Coast School Library Recovery Initiative began in May 2006, the Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries awarded more than $2.5 Million to 54 Gulf Coast schools.
Of particular importance to African-Americans was President Bush’s faith-based initiative that put church-based social services programs on an equal footing with secular programs when competing for government grants.
Black Americans also benefited from President Bush’s tax cuts that were provided to all Americans who pay taxes. The child tax credit was doubled to $1,000 and 13 million low-income earners were removed from the income tax rolls completely. Poor blacks received an additional gift of $1,658 per family under the Earned Income Tax Credit program.
When the economy is growing, creating more job and business opportunities, African-Americans also prosper. When President Bush took office in January 2001, our economy was in recession and was hit hard by the attacks of September 11, 2001. Thanks to President Bush’s tax cuts, our economy experienced a miraculous recovery. The tax cuts were responsible for the longest run of uninterrupted job growth – 52 straight months, or six straight years – with 8.3 million jobs created. Prior to the economic downtown in 2008, GDP grew by more than 17 percent from 2000 to 2007, a remarkable gain of nearly 2.1 trillion dollars.
(NOTE: The root of our current economic troubles was not excessive spending or deregulation by the Bush Administration. Instead the Community Reinvestment Act enacted by Democrats in the 1970’s forced banks to mortgage loans to people who could not afford to pay the money back. The meltdown was then precipitated by the failure of the government sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which President Bush attempted to subject to more regulation. By the time Congress finally acted in 2008 to provide the oversight President Bush requested, it was too late to prevent the crisis that had its genesis in the 1970’s. Had President Bush’s initial reform proposals been adopted, today's economic turmoil may have been avoided.)
This article was reprinted with permission from the NBRA.