President Obama's is stepping up his public-relations blitz to safeguard the middle class in his battle with congressional Republicans over the fiscal cliff and is reaching out to let African-American households know he's thinking about them.
If the president and Republican leaders are unable to reach an accord, tax rates for everyone will increase and automatic spending cuts in several domestic programs and the Defense Department budget will go into effect in January. (Fiscal cliff is a term coined to define increased tax rates for all and automatic spending cuts to several domestic programs and the Defense Department's budget that will go into effect in January if they cannot reach an agreement.)
The White House on Thursday released a fact sheet on the impact that falling over the fiscal cliff could have on African-American families. Senior administration officials, including special advisor Valerie Jarrett, also met with Black leaders and organizations to discuss the ramifications.
At the center of the debate between Obama and Republican lawmakers is the president's insistence that the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the nation's top earners on Dec. 31, and the GOP's equally obstinate stance against tax hikes for anyone.
According to statistics provided by the White House, if the two sides are unable to negotiate a deal, the average African-American family of four earning between $50,000 and $80,000 would see a reduction in their child tax credit from $1,000 to $500 per child, a marriage penalty increase of about $300 and they would have to pay an additional $900 in taxes because of a push into a higher tax bracket.
A single Black mother with children between the ages of 11 months and six years old working a minimum wage job would have to pay $1,725 more in taxes because her child tax credit also would decrease and another $670 because of the end of the earned income tax credit for larger families.
Families that think they're doing well now also would suffer, according to the administration. Those earning $120,000 and raising two children, one of whom is in college, would see their tax bill increase by $4,500.
The conventional wisdom is that aside from their differences over tax rates and some entitlement programs, the president and Republicans aren't that far apart. Energized by his election victory, during which he pledged a balanced approach to averting the fiscal cliff, which included the wealthy paying more, Obama is determined to not give in.
That puts House Speaker John Boehner stuck between his Republican caucus and its base and his more pragmatic nature.
Black families are in an even stickier situation.
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(Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)