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John W. Boyd Jr. Headshot

African American Leaders Meet at the White House on the Fiscal Cliff

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Along with other African American leaders, I recently attended a White House meeting on the fiscal cliff. We all have read something about the so called fiscal cliff or watched pundits spin the issue on 24-hour cable news.

Over the last few weeks Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has been negotiating with the White House as though his party's candidate was elected President of the United States. Someone forgot to tell the Speaker Mitt Romney lost. President Obama can now claim a much stronger position with his recent reelection win.

At the meeting we heard a range of speakers who covered almost every angle on how the middle class and all Americans would be affected. White House literature emphasized the administration's position:

President Obama is committed to growing our economy from the middle out by ensuring a strong secure and thriving middle-class. Now we face a deadline that requires action on jobs, taxes and deficits by the end of the year. While the President is committed to working with Congress to reduce our deficit in a balanced and responsible way, there is no reason to hold middle-class families hostage while we debate tax cuts for the highest income earners.

If there is no deal by the deadline, what does this really mean for the average household? It could result in a rise in income taxes of $2,200 for a family with an annual income of $53,000, and even sharper cuts to those in entitlement programs. The House proposal offered by Republicans even caps donations to non-profit organizations deductions at $25,000. The U.S. economy cannot afford that right now. It does not take much common sense to understand companies will stop hiring and consumer spending will slow down.

But if the president continues to stand his ground, it will send the signal to House Leaders that there is a new day in Washington. As one White House staffer said during our meeting, we are long past the days of just taking a deal to meet a deadline; "Those days are over." I was glad to hear the news.

If President Obama gets his way on Capitol Hill, it will paint a picture of what the next four years will look like. The Republicans lost their bargaining power in this past election. They failed to capture key Senate seats, lost their bid for the White House and even lost seats in the House. The bottom line: Americans have spoken.

The American people expect and deserve better results from Washington. These political showdowns that detract from our economic growth have got to stop. The Republican Party rejects the word "mandate," but the president is moving forward with the agenda that a majority of us went to the polls to deliver to him.

If the Republicans seriously want to play ball they will have to work with the president for the betterment of the American people. If they continue down the same worn out path it's going to be a long four years for the Speaker and his party.