Is Racism Coloring the Debt Ceiling Debate?

Is Racism Coloring the Debt Ceiling Debate?

Some Black lawmakers on Capitol Hill have suggested that racism may in part be the reason why Republicans are so strongly opposing raising the debt ceiling.

Published July 29, 2011


(Photo: Mitch Dumke/Landov)

The Tea Party faction of the House Republican conference has long said they would oppose raising the nation’s debt ceiling unless a commensurate amount of spending cuts and caps are included in the package. But some Black lawmakers on Capitol Hill think there may be more to it. Citing countless debt ceiling votes accompanied by little to no debate, they are wondering why President Obama is having such difficulty.


Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Illinois) suggested that racism may be coloring the debate in remarks delivered on the House floor Thursday as the chamber prepared to vote on House Speaker John Boehner’s revised debt ceiling bill. The vote ultimately was delayed because Boehner had not locked down enough support for the bill to pass.


“This president is being treated differently than other presidents. No other president has been stook up, shook down or held hostage as president of the United States over this debt vote,” Jackson said. “This is fundamentally unfair, Mr. Speaker, to change the rules in the middle of the game.”


Jackson said that the battle being waged against the president reflects an “institutional bias.” His sentiments reflected remarks made by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). She didn’t use the word “racism,” but strongly implied that it is indeed at least part of the problem.


"Read between the lines. What is different about this president that should put him in a position that he should not receive the same kind of respectful treatment of when it is necessary to raise the debt limit in order to pay our bills, something required by both statute and the 14th amendment?" Jackson Lee said during remarks on the House floor on July 15. "I hope someone will say that what it appears to be is not in fact accurate. But historically it seems to be nothing more."


Related Exclusive Video: White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett on the Debt Limit

Part 1: What happens if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations?
Part 2: As the Black-white wealth gap widens, will core social programs be preserved?
Part 3: How can the Obama administration ensure Americans' needs aren't forgotten?


Written by Joyce Jones


Latest in news