Marc H. Morial sent the following letter today to President Obama, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner outlining the Urban League’s policy priorities for the next four years:
Dear Mr. President, Rep. Pelosi, and Speaker Boehner,
The National Urban League congratulates each of you on your victory, and offers its support as, together, you lead the country into the next four years.
We write respectfully to share our urgent petition that a second term agenda focus on the issues of economic opportunity and income inequality. While we recognize that the country has been brought from the brink of economic disaster; and job growth has been steady and consistent, we believe that job creation, economic development and economic empowerment are the most important issues facing our great nation. Accordingly, we urge the following:
First, that a comprehensive jobs program be developed and executed by way of a partnership that includes government, the private sector and the nation's non-profit community. This partnership must emphasize infrastructure and public works, broadband technology and energy, with a special focus on those communities where unemployment is and remains stubbornly and persistently high. This necessarily requires special attention to the nation's urban communities and suburban and rural pockets where joblessness remains in double digits and economic suffering is widespread.
Second, we urge an intense focus on children and youth. We applaud your efforts and leadership when it comes to K-12 education, but we must do more. We need a national policy to move the nation toward universal early childhood education. China has begun to surpass the United States in early childhood education, and we cannot afford to lag behind.
Moreover, we urge an expansion of your efforts to make college and higher education more affordable by including a new emphasis on job training, workforce development and skills retraining for those citizens who do not choose college or who did not complete high school on time. There is a great untapped potential in these citizens that must be unleashed to power the economic recovery.
Third, the scourge of gun violence cries out for a comprehensive new approach to community safety and crime reduction. This requires stronger enforcement of existing gun laws, re-enactment of the assault weapons ban, and a thoughtful examination of criminal justice system disparities which have created an exploding prison population at great expense to the taxpayers at both the state and federal level.
Finally, the National Urban League supports a fair and sensible fiscal plan. Like all Americans, we believe the nation must tackle deficit reduction. Our approach must marry compassion for the most vulnerable Americans with protection for the nation's jobs, and require sacrifice from every American, including those who have benefited the most.
The devastation of Superstorm Sandy has exposed the desperately slim margin to which our most vulnerable citizens cling. Therefore, we propose that any deficit reduction plan include one dollar in revenue enhancements for every dollar of spending cuts. These enhancements can come from reforms to the tax code, including the closing of special interest loopholes, and adjustments to marginal tax rates.
We who represent the nation's urban communities will demand a seat at the table in these discussions, and we are prepared to engage fully with our team of economic and policy experts.
The American people spoke loudly last evening and, in my view, want all parties to put the business of the people first in a spirit of American patriotism and unity rather than resorting to ideological, divisive agendas. While there are many issues that you must confront, we believe those outlined above are the most important facing the nation and urge that they form the centerpiece of your second term domestic agenda.
Marc H. Morial
President and Chief Executive Officer
National Urban League