My staff at the American Small Business League (ASBL) and I have spent a week on the phone sounding the alarm about an anti-minority small-business policy proposed by the Obama administration.
Friday, Sept. 9, one day after President Obama announced the American Jobs Act, his administration quietly announced plans to dismantle one of the nation's most successful programs to create jobs in minority communities from coast to coast. The announcement, entered into the Federal Register, stated that the Pentagon, NASA and the U.S. Coast Guard were no longer required to hit a 5-percent contracting goal with small businesses owned by minorities.
This is the kind of typical, non-transparent Washington move that is beginning to define President Obama. It is why I have been telling people for years to stop listening to what President Obama says and start watching what he does. This latest anti-minority small-businesses policy will devastate the minority business community.
Minorities face a difficult enough time as it is. The Labor Department reports that the jobless rate for African Americans alone is 16.7 percent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 27 percent of African Americans live below the poverty level. Approximately 35 percent of the population is made up of ethnic minorities, and almost 6 million American businesses are owned by minorities.
The ASBL staff and I are going to fight this policy with everything we've got. We've launched a national campaign to inform the media, the public and Congress. We are consulting with our attorneys about possible legal action. Unfortunately, not a single group thought to be representing minority-owned or other small businesses is publicly opposing the policy, though it's not surprising that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has done nothing.
In addition to dismantling federal contracting programs for minorities, the Obama Administration has been diverting hundreds of billions of dollars in federal small-business contracts to the largest companies worldwide. It's possible that the logic behind dismantling small business contracting programs is that it will make it easier for large companies to receive all federal contracts. Should we expect the Obama Administration to abolish contracting programs for businesses owned by women and service-disabled veterans next?
These programs are the most effective method to create jobs in America. They direct existing federal infrastructure spending to the small businesses that create virtually all net new jobs. The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that small businesses create 90 percent of all net new jobs. Small businesses employ half of the private sector workforce, generate more than half of GDP and are responsible for 90 percent of U.S. exports.
The Obama Administration knows that small businesses aren't sitting around reading the fascinating legal crud that comes out in the back channels of the Federal Register. Small businesses have enough problems dealing with decades of poor economic policies formulated by high-powered, high-funded corporate lobbyists. President Obama owes these businesses (the same ones that helped him get elected) more than a line in the Federal Register.
If I were Barack Obama, the President who promised to lead the most transparent administration in U.S. history, and I had to announce a policy that would put minority-owned companies out of business and cost millions of jobs, I would tell them face-to-face, not in the Federal Register on a Friday.