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CBC Plays Hardball with Obama on Behalf of Black Businesses

Black America Web.com, News Report, Jackie Jones Posted: Dec 07, 2009

The Congressional Black Caucus is putting the hurt on President Obama by refusing to support financial reform legislation until he comes up with an acceptable plan to support minority businesses.

According to The New York Times, caucus members say they want reform for a wide-ranging group of businesses, including black-owned radio, auto dealers, newspapers, banks and government contractors, but may be focusing particularly on the financial woes of Inner Broadcasting in meetings with key administration officials.

Inner City, which owns 17 stations, is under pressure to repay nearly $230 million in debt owed to Goldman Sachs and GE Capital, Pierre Sutton, son of co-owner and powerful New York politician and businessman Percy Sutton, told The Times on Wednesday.

Declining advertising revenues and the gravitation of advertisers to the Internet have put many broadcasters, particularly black-owned broadcasters, in dire financial straits. In meetings with Treasury secretary Tim Geithner and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and through the Podesta Group, an influential lobbying firm hired to press its case, the caucus asked the administration to pressure creditors to renegotiate Inner Citys loans, The Times reported.

A statement from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), however, suggests the groups agenda was more broad-based.

"Since last September, we have continuously voted for bailouts and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African-American community or small business. That stops today," Waters said. "While we appreciate the need for the expansion of regulatory authority, we can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street.

"We're prepared to ... leverage opportunities for our community. This particular moment provides an opportunity," Waters said Wednesday. "If we are going to support extraordinary powers for these regulatory agencies, we have to be sure that these powers will be used to benefit small and minority businesses."

In any event, the caucus upped the ante Wednesday when 10 of its members deliberately failed to show up for a vote on the reform package. The legislation now moves to the floor of the House of Representatives where it could go down to defeat if caucus members vote against it.

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