For Release: February 20, 2009
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or
or [email protected]
Congressman's Race-Baiting on Stimulus Attacked
It’s Not “Racist” to Refuse Stimulus Money, Black Activists Say
Washington, D.C. - Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC), the third-ranking member of the congressional leadership, has engaged in unnecessary and harmful race-baiting in his criticism of governors wary of accepting money from the so-called "stimulus" package, say members of the African-American leadership group Project 21.
"Trepidation about accepting a federal handout is rational, not racist," said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "For Congressman Clyburn to claim that refusing stimulus money would hurt blacks is the last gasp of a desperate politician revealed to have been making a career out of the loathsome practice of pushing set-asides, pork projects and increased government intrusion."
In remarks to reporters on February 19, Congressman Clyburn called opposition to the stimulus package "a slap in the face of African-Americans." In particular, he was referring to opposition by southern governors such as Rick Perry of Texas, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Mark Sanford of Clyburn's home state of South Carolina.
These governors - all Republicans - are concerned about federal mandates that may be attached to the acceptance of stimulus money. In a letter to President Barack Obama, Governor Perry wrote: "I remain opposed to using these funds to expand existing government programs, burdening the state with ongoing expenditures long after the funding has dried up." Perry and several other critical governors are grudgingly accepting stimulus-related money.
Project 21 member Kevin Martin said: "Liberals such as Congressman Clyburn have always employed tactics such as the race card to shame critics into accepting their heavy-handed demands. This stimulus package is unpopular pork, and the American people are angry. To use race as a means of cramming it down these governors' throats is reprehensible, and people should take notice as to how far these people are willing to go to get their way."
Massie added: "The 10th Amendment to our Constitution protects the rights of states from federal encroachment. These governors are concerned about the tremendous debt and regulatory strings this spending package will saddle their constituents with in the future. But Congressman Clyburn is essentially saying that being fiscally responsible and protecting the integrity of the Constitution is racist and antagonistic to blacks. It is an affront to reasonable minds."
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.