Its most notable education legislation is the No Child Left Behind Act. “It’s very hard to argue that the educational status of African Americans has measurably improved. I think accountability is a good idea, but the reality is we haven’t created any new funding structures or taken dramatic steps to really change the conditions in a lot of our school systems populated primarily by African Americans,” says Davis. “This gap is particularly apparent in rural areas, which are completely outside the ambit of No Child Left Behind. While performance continues to be mixed, states are balking at the lack of funding they have received to meet performance standards.
Bush and his supporters frequently cite his tax cuts as a pro-growth choice that works. But Davis and others disagree. “It’s simply bad economic policy. There’s no question that some people have benefited. But if you earn less than $100,000, the cuts have had no measurable economic impact on your well-being,” he says. “Most serious economists will tell you that whatever stimulative gain the economy has gained is in danger of being offset by rising interest rates, uncertainty because of the deficit, and debts our country has accumulated — a significant chunk of which can be attributed to the outsize tax cuts. Their impact on African Americans is almost nonexistent, except for a small class of people like Bill Cosby or Tavis Smiley.”
Bush’s supporters also laud his homeownership agenda and what it has done for blacks. “Homeownership helps create wealth in our community. The president has set a goal of 5.5 million minority homeowners by 2010. We’re already at 2 million because of the American Dream Down
Davis applauds the administration’s commitment to increasing minority homeownership with one caveat: “While we have seen some rise in homeownership, we’ve also seen a rise in predatory lending and unjustifiable sub prime lending in the African American community. This administration has not only failed to formulate policies to resist that but has actively opposed efforts in Congress to regulate the mortgage market so it’s more transparent and fair.” Davis believes it will be several years before we can determine whether the American Dream Act has had an acute effect on the African American community. Walters adds, “The housing market has been huge. I would like to see the data that proves [the increase] is due to a federal program rather than the market.”
Entrepreneurship is also a critical wealth builder for black African Americans, who are 50% more likely to start a business than the rest of the population. “The president recognizes what tax incentives for black small businesses will do to help them grow and succeed, and they have grown upward and over 17% annually because of some of the incentives he’s put in place,” says Tara Wall, a Republican National Committee spokesperson.
But cuts to the Small Business Administration’s budget cause Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) to question how committed the administration truly is to helping minority and other small businesses flourish. Since 2001, SBA’s budget has been