Friday, August 22, 2014

Obama Cares. Look at the Numbers.

By TALI MENDELBERG and BENNETT L. BUTLER, NYT, AUG. 21, 2014

AS the predominantly black, disproportionately poor community of Ferguson, Mo., erupted in protest after the shooting death of Michael Brown, critics excoriated President Obama for his failure to empathize. Michael Eric Dyson, for example, called the president’s statement about the case on Monday a “stunning epic failure.

Mr. Obama’s defenders point to his second-term commitment to issues that touch the lives of poor communities of color, especially his initiative to assist young minority men, My Brother’s Keeper. But what both sides are ignoring is the president’s first-term record.

A true measure of a president’s priorities lies hidden in plain sight in his budget proposals. Under that standard, Mr. Obama has been more committed to communities like Ferguson than any Democratic president in the past half century.

By looking at what percentage of the budget presidents propose to spend to fight poverty, we can compare their degree of commitment.

While Mr. Obama advocated for the Affordable Care Act as a way to assist poor African-Americans, for example, we can’t put that on an effort scale and compare it to President Bill Clinton’s advocacy for his health care plan. Our method also avoids the problem of accounting for forces beyond presidents’ control.

(More here.)

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