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George Curry

Companies Continue to Insult Black Consumers

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By George E. Curry

NNPA Columnist

When I was in the process of reading and writing about Nielsen and the National Newspaper Publishers Association’s report on African-American buying power for this week’s Black newspapers, I was reminded of how many top companies continue to take advantage of Black consumers while providing little, if anything, in return. They are not the only ones at fault – so are we. People treat you the way you allow them to treat you. The same can be said of corporations, though they are not, as Mitt Romney contends, people. The Nielsen report notes that Black spending power, which totals $695 billion a year, is expected to soar to $1.1 trillion by 2015. And very few of those dollars are reinvested by advertising in the Black media. It’s a matter of respect. As Black publishers point out, if a company advertises in the Washington Post or the New York Times, it could be speaking to anyone. However, when it advertises in the Black media, we know they are speaking directly to our audience and are taking us seriously as valued consumers. For the most part, that’s not happening.

When Nielsen lists the top companies advertising with Black media, some familiar names are nowhere to be found. Eight of the top U.S. 10 banks are not on the list of top 10 financial/insurance companies advertising in the Black media. JP Morgan Chase has overtaken Bank of America as the top bank in the U.S., with assets of $2.2 trillion. Don’t shed any tears for second-place Bank of America, which has assets of $2.13 trillion, or CitiGroup with $1.8 trillion. Neither of them is among the top 10 entities advertising with the Black media.

But African-Americans hold checking or savings accounts at all three banks. Let’s put them on notice by sending them a copy of this column and my story, which is carried in this week’s NNPA papers and is posted on BlackPressUSA.com. Tell them that by the time the next Nielsen report comes out a year from now if they are not on that list, they will be added to one of our lists, not the one people brag about. If banks can disregard us, we can disregard them by closing our accounts and moving them to a bank that shows its appreciation. If you have accounts at either JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, CitiBank (CitiGroup), Bank of New York Mellon, PNC Financial Services, State Street Corp., Capital One or SunTrust Banks, put them on notice today that they will lose a valuable customer if they continue along this path. In terms of a national campaign, I suggest first focusing on the three largest banks. Here’s contact information for their top official:

Mr. James Dimon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer JP Morgan Chase 270 Park Avenue, 39th Floor New York, NY 10017 Phone: 212-270-1111 Fax: 212-270-1121 Email Address: HYPERLINK "mailto:jamie.dimon@jpmchase.com"jamie.dimon@jpmchase.com

Mr. Brian T. Moynihan Chief Executive Officer Bank of America Corporation 100 N. Tryon St. Charlotte, N.C. 28255 Phone: 704-386-5681 Email; HYPERLINK "mailto:Brian.T.Moynihan@bankofamerica.com"Brian.T.Moynihan@bankofamerica.com

Mr. Vikram Pandit CEO CitiBank 399 Park Avenue New York, N.Y. 10022 Phone 212/793-1201 or 212/559-1000 Email: HYPERLINK "mailto:vikram.pandit@citi.com"vikram.pandit@citi.com

Let the “banksters” know how you feel about their actions. To add insult to injury, $182.5 billion of our tax dollars went to bail out American International Group – or Notorious AIG., as comedian Bill Maher calls them – but they have not reciprocated with the Black media. AIG, the largest insurance company in the world, is MIA.

You can’t turn on the television without seeing one of those horrendous man/ape commercials about GEICO. Yet, GEICO is monkeying around with us by also being absent from the list of top advertisers. African-Americans over index on mobile phones. Verizon is a top advertiser with the Black media but not AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile. If they haven’t joined the list by next year, we should pull the plug on them.

At various times and to varying degrees, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and the NAACP, among others, have had a public grading system for Corporate America. But that measurement has been abandoned. It’s time to reinstate it. Instead of competing with one another, this is an excellent opportunity to prove that our civil rights organizations have what they call “operational unity” and join together to produce an annual Economic Report Card. Given its ties to Corporate America, perhaps Marc Morial and the National Urban League can take the lead on this. It’s time for leaders to lead.

As Jackson said at the press conference releasing the Nielsen report on Black buying power, perhaps we should stop boasting about our spending power and closely examine what companies spend with us. And based on those findings, we should do what the lady who reads the church announcements each Sunday admonishes – govern ourselves accordingly. George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

15 Memorable Quotes from the Democratic Convention

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By George E. Curry

NNPA Columnist

#15 – Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.): “Congress is unable to do the work of the American people because too many politicians believe that compromise means capitulation. This must change, because just as bees cannot sting and make honey at the same time, members of Congress cannot simultaneously make passionate enemies and expect political progress.”

#14 – Rep. Barney Frank (Mass.): “When it comes to Wall Street reform, you’d think Republicans have amnesia. Like they’ve forgotten how we got into the Great Recession in the first place. Did they forget they were in power leading up to the crisis? That it was their plan that set Wall Street free and crashed the economy? Did they forget that this whole crisis started because banks gave out loans they knew people couldn’t pay? That those banks were gambling with our money? Using the kinds of financial tricks only Mitt Romney’s accountant would understand?”

#13 – Newark Mayor Cory Booker: “When your country is in a costly war with our soldiers sacrificing abroad and our nation is facing a debt crisis at home, being asked to pay your fair share isn’t class warfare. It’s patriotism.”

#12 – Massachusetts Gov. Devaul Patrick “Mitt Romney talks a lot about all the things he’s fixed. I can tell you that Massachusetts wasn’t one of them. He’s a fine fellow and a great salesman, but as governor he was more interested in having the job than doing it.”

#11 – Former Florida Republican Gov. Charlie Christ: “Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose relentless optimism inspired me to enter politics, famously said that he didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the party left him. I can certainly relate. I didn’t leave the Republican Party; it left me. Then again, as my friend Jeb Bush recently noted, Reagan himself would have been too moderate and too reasonable for today’s GOP.”

#10- Massachusetts Senatorial Candidate Elizabeth Warren: “After all, Mitt Romney’s the guy who said corporations are people. No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters. That matters because we don’t run this country for corporations, we run it for people.”

#9 – First Lady Michelle Obama: “Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it…and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love. And he believes that when you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity…you do not slam it shut behind you…you reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.”

#8- HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “What’s missing from the Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare is Medicare. Instead of the Medicare guarantee, Republicans would give seniors a voucher that limits what is covered….”

#7 – Rep. Luis Gutierrez (Ill.): “President Obama is protecting immigrants. Mitt Romney wants to send them back. This election will determine whether high school valedictorians, football team captains, and student council presidents will be treated with respect – or treated like suspects.”

#6- Musician James Taylor: “It’s an empty chair, it makes you nervous, don’t worry — I’m going to sit on it. I’m not going to talk to it.”

#5 – Former President Bill Clinton: “In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple – pretty snappy. It went something like this: ‘We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in.’”

#4- Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley: “Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan now say they want to take America back. And so we ask: Back to what? Back to the failed policies that drove us into a deep recession? Back to the days of record job losses? Back to the days when insurance companies called being a woman a ‘pre-existing condition’? No, thank you. I don’t want to go back.”

#3- The late Senator Ted Kennedy (clip from 1994 debate with Mitt Romney): “I have supported Roe v. Wade. I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple-choice.”

#2 – Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm: “Mitt Romney loves our lakes and our trees. He loves our cars so much, they even have their own elevator. But the people who design and build and sell those cars? Well, in Romney’s world, the cars get the elevator, and the workers get the shaft!”

#1- Ted Strickland, former Ohio governor: “If Mitt was Santa Claus, he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

Obama’s Mixed Record on Appointing Judges

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By George Curry

NNPA Columnist

Many speakers at this week’s Republican convention in Tampa have focused on the economy and unemployment as they sought to contrast the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan GOP ticket with the record of President Barack Obama. But there is another battle underway that is receiving less attention but is at least equally import – the fight to appoint federal judges.

For several decades, Republicans have made judicial appointments a top priority. It is still a priority for the GOP and should be one for Democrats, especially because the 5-4 Supreme Court conservative majority could be widened or shifted in the other direction with the possible appointment of two justices over the next four years. Both President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have made it clear they would appoint a different kind of judge to the federal bench.

So far, the Obama record on appointing judges is like his race – mixed. Obama has appointed two Supreme Court justices – the same number as Bill Clinton and George W. Bush appointed over eight years. He appointed 30 appeals court judges, roughly the same number that Clinton and Bush averaged over a term. The real difference was at the district court level, where most cases are decided. Obama has appointed only 125 district judges, compared to 170 for Clinton and 162 for Bush at this point of their presidency.

Part of the problem was that Obama made judicial appointments a low priority as he tried to push his health reform initiative through Congress. Although he fell far behind Bush’s pace in his first year, he later accelerated the process but not fast enough to equal Bush. A second problem was GOP opposition to Obama’s nominees. Even so, Obama did make significant changes.

The number of appeals court judges appointed by Democrats is now 49 percent, a 10 percent increase over when Bush left office. When Obama took office, judges appointed by Democrats dominated only one federal appeals circuit. Now, six of the 13 circuits are dominated by judges appointed by Democrats.

An Aug. 17 New York Times article on Obama’s judicial record observed:  “…Mr. Obama has also largely shied away from nominating assertive liberals who might stand as ideological counterpoints to some of the assertive conservatives Mr. Bush named. Instead of prominent liberal academics whose scholarly writings and videotaped panel discussions would provide ammunition to conservatives, Mr. Obama gravitated toward litigators, prosecutors and sitting district judges and state judges, especially those who would diversify the bench.”

Many of those were met with Republican obstruction. “The Republicans’ goal has been clear from the start – to keep as many seats as possible vacant for a future Republican president to fill with ultraconservative judges,” noted the Alliance for Justice, an association of more than 100 progressive organizations.

Obama’s goal of diversifying the federal bench has been complicated by the American Bar Association, a group of judicial professionals that vets candidates for federal judgeships.

The New York Times article stated, “Awkwardly, the American Bar Association’s judicial vetting committee later scuttled at least 14 finalists for nominations – nearly all women and minorities –by declaring them ‘not qualified.’” In 2001, the George W. Bush administration announced that it would cease cooperating with the ABA in advance of judicial nominations, preferring to go with judges favored by the conservative Federalist Society.  However, Obama has been unwilling to appoint judges not approved by the ABA.

There is a down side to making safe judicial appointments, especially when conservatives are unabashed in their quest to remake the courts. In a report on the last term of the Supreme Court titled, “The One-Percent Court,” the Alliance for Justice observed that in the landmark decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, Justices Elena Kagan, appointed by President Obama and Stephen Breyer, appointed by Bill Clinton, joined the five staunch conservatives on the court in holding that limits can be placed on Congress’ ability to address some national issues, including civil rights, under the commerce clause of the U.S. constitution. Obama’s only bold move in this area was the nomination of Goodwin Liu, a liberal University of California-Berkeley law professor, to the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Senate Republicans blocked his appointment with a filibuster.

He briefly considered nominating another liberal, Pamela Karlan of Stanford University, but stayed with candidates that he believed would be more acceptable to Republicans.

The Times article stated,  “While she said she was not disappointed, Ms. Karlan expressed worries that if Republicans nominated outspoken conservatives but Democrats did not nominate equally liberal ones, the center of mainstream legal debate would shift to the right.”

And that’s exactly what has happened.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

Romney Budget Cuts ‘Substantially’ Deeper than Ryan’s

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By George E. Curry

NNPA Columnist

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been carefully trying to put some distance between him and running mate Paul Ryan’s radical budget proposal but he has a major problem – his plan would make even deeper cuts than the Ryan plan.

A careful HYPERLINK "http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3658"analysis of Romney’s plan by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) observed:   “Governor Mitt Romney’s proposals to cap total federal spending, boost defense spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget would require extraordinarily large cuts in other programs, both entitlements and discretionary programs. “For the most part, Governor Romney has not outlined cuts in specific programs. But if policymakers exempted Social Security from the cuts, as Romney has suggested, and cut Medicare, Medicaid, and all other entitlement and discretionary programs by the same percentage – to meet Romney’s spending cap, defense spending target, and balanced budget requirement – then non-defense programs other than Social Security would have to be cut 29 percent in 2016 and 59 percent in 2022.” That would shred the social net that Romney claims to support.

“Governor Romney’s cuts would be substantially deeper than those required under the austere House-passed budget plan authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Over the 2014-2022 period, Romney would require cuts in programs other than Social Security and defense of $7 trillion to $10 trillion, compared with a little over $5 trillion under the Ryan budget,” the analysis pointed out. As I wrote in this space last week, another Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report stated, “Combined, the Bush and Ryan tax cuts would provide an annual windfall of nearly $400,000 apiece, on average, to people with incomes over $1 million. By combining large budget cuts (and tax increases) that disproportionately harm lower-income Americans with big tax cuts that disproportionately help those at the top of the income scale, the Ryan budget would significantly worsen inequality and increase poverty and hardship (and reduce opportunity as well, through deep cuts in programs such as Pell Grants to help low-income students afford college).” And Romney’s budget proposal is worse than that.

In an interview with CNN on Feb. 1, Romney said: “I’m in this race because I care about Americans. I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich; they’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90 percent, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

Rather than fixing the safety net for the poor, Romney’s budget proposal would rip it into pieces. A May 21 updated analysis by CBPP revealed, “The cuts that would be required under the Romney budget proposals in programs such as veterans’ disability compensation, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for poor elderly and disabled individuals, SNAP (formerly food stamps), and child nutrition programs would move millions of households below the poverty line or drive them deeper into poverty. “The cuts in Medicare and Medicaid would make health insurance unaffordable (or unavailable) to tens of millions of people. The cuts in non-defense discretionary programs – a spending category that covers a wide variety of public services such as elementary and secondary education, law enforcement, veterans’ health care, environmental protection, and biomedical research – would come on top of the deep cuts in this part of the budget that are already in law due to the discretionary funding caps established in last year’s Budget Control Act (BCA).”

During the campaign, Romney has listed four key proposals that would affect federal spending, taxes and the deficit:

• Reduce federal spending to 20 percent of GDP by the end of first term and cap it at that level.

• Increase “core defense spending” – roughly 93 percent of defense spending – at 4 percent of GDP.

• Extend the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and other tax cuts set to expire,  reduce income tax rates by another 20 percent, making the top tax rate  28 percent; eliminate the estate tax; reduce the corporate income tax and

• Balance the budget.

“Although Governor Romney has not proposed specific Medicare policies, it would be virtually impossible to achieve his budgetary objectives while sparing Medicare from substantial cuts.  If Medicare as well as Social Security were protected, all other programs – including Medicaid, veterans’ benefits, education, environmental protection, transportation, and SSI – would have to be cut by an average of 40 percent in 2016 and 57 percent in 2022, just to limit federal spending to 20 percent of GDP,” the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated. “If the budget also had to be balanced, all government programs other than defense, Social Security, and Medicare would have to be nearly eliminated:  six out of every seven dollars going for them would disappear.” And you thought the Ryan budget plan was bad.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

Paul Ryan: The Most Conservative Congressman Picked for VP in 100 Years

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By George E. Curry

NNPA Columnist

After studying the records of vice presidential candidates for more than a century, Nate Silver wrote in Saturday’s New York Times that Paul Ryan, the person Mitt Romney selected to be his vice presidential running mate, is “as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann, the controversial congresswoman of Minnesota…Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center.” As chairman of the House Budget Committee, the Wisconsin Republican has served as the chief architect of the GOP’s budget priorities. Detailed analysis of Ryan’s budget plan show him to be what Jesse Jackson often called on the presidential campaign trail in 1984: a “Reverse Robin Hood” – one who likes to take from the poor to give to the rich.

That’s exactly the point documented by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: “…These regressive new tax cuts would come on top of the Bush tax cuts, which also were costly and provided disproportionate gains to the highest-income households. Combined, the Bush and Ryan tax cuts would provide an annual windfall of nearly $400,000 apiece, on average, to people with incomes over $1 million.”

It added, “By combining large budget cuts (and tax increases) that disproportionately harm lower-income Americans with big tax cuts that disproportionately help those at the top of the income scale, the Ryan budget would significantly worsen inequality and increase poverty and hardship (and reduce opportunity as well, through deep cuts in programs such as Pell Grants to help low-income students afford college).”

Even William Gale, who served as a senior staff economist for the Council of Economic Advisers under President George H.W. Bush, agrees. “At a time when our country faces a daunting fiscal challenge, Ryan asks nothing of the wealthiest Americans. His budget proposal would simultaneously cut tax rates for the rich and corporations while slashing programs for the poor and elderly: he would shift many federal low-income assistance programs to state governments and would transform Medicare into a premium support system that will shift health care costs to seniors if health care inflation cannot be controlled,” said Gale, now co-director of the Tax Policy Center.

A Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of Ryan’s 2013 budget plan found that it “would get at least 62 percent of its $5.3 trillion in nondefense budget cuts over ten years (relative to a continuation of current policies) from programs that serve people of limited means.”

It explained, “Ryan’s cuts from programs benefiting low-income earners include “$2.4 trillion in reductions from Medicaid and other health care for people with low or moderate incomes” and “$134 billion in cuts to SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.” In addition, Ryan would cut at least $463 billion from “mandatory programs serving low-income Americans (other than Medicaid and SNAP)” and “at least $291 billion in cuts in low-income discretionary programs.”

Like his running mate, Ryan favors repealing President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act. And what he proposes as a cure for America’s ailing health care system is worse than the illness.

“Ryan budget would divide our health system into a distinct two tiers: those who could afford the care they need would get it; many others would not,” said Edwin Park, vice president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Referring to Ryan, the former White House official said, “He would convert Medicare into a voucher to buy private insurance or traditional Medicare, and cap Medicare financing for the vouchers at levels that wouldn’t keep pace with health costs. By 2050, the Congressional Budget Office says, federal funding for a 67-year-old beneficiary’s health costs would be 35 percent to 42 percent lower than under current law. With vouchers growing more inadequate over time, beneficiaries would face much higher premiums and cost-sharing. Some would become uninsured; others would forgo care they couldn’t afford.”

And the problem with Medicare and Medicaid would not stop there under Ryan’s plan. “He would turn Medicaid into a block grant program and give states less financing each year,” Park said. “States would get one-third less by 2022, which led the C.B.O. to conclude that unless states spent substantially more of their own money on Medicaid, they’d have to make substantial cuts to eligibility, benefits and/or provider payments. When Ryan proposed a similar system last year, the Urban Institute estimated states would cut 14 million to 27 million beneficiaries by 2021.”

In an effort to shore up his conservative base, Mitt Romney has selected a running mate clearly out of step with the American public.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

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