A group of civic and civil rights organizations met with President Obama on Friday to have their say on the pending fiscal cliff. The meeting is part of a series that took place at the White House this week during which the president allowed various groups to weigh in.
"If negotiations cannot stop the spending cuts across-the-board, African-Americans, Latinos and poor people are the ones who will go over a cliff," said National Action Network president and MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton.
The meetings also were part of his strategy to gain leverage and win public support for his pledge to help reduce the federal budget deficit.
Republican lawmakers have been resistant to the idea, but some have begun to express a willingness to at least consider it. If they are unable to make a deal, everyone's taxes will be raised on Jan. 1 and automatic spending cuts to critical domestic programs will be enacted.
Wade Henderson, who heads the Leadership Conference on Civic and Human Rights, told BET.com after the meeting that the deal Obama negotiates will have much broader implications than just averting the fiscal cliff.
"What the president is doing now has implications for not only the immediate circumstances, but also for the future of whether this administration will be able to tackle whether some of the really tough issues that are of the greatest interest to African-Americans and others," he said.
Henderson added that his and other organizations are encouraging the White House to focus more deeply on job creation and arming Americans with the academic and technical skills required to fill them.
"We have a number of private corporations that are interested in beginning to invest in job creation, but they need a signal that the fiscal problems and challenges that face the country today can be resolved," he said.
Marc Morial, head of the National Urban League, and Ben Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, also participated in the meeting.
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(Photo: Roger L. Wollenberg/Getty Images)