Four Reasons Midterm Elections Matter

Lawmakers, political analysts warn that changing of the guard will hurt most African Americans

Anthony Robinson, president of the Minority Business Legal Defense and Education Fund, has only just begun to see small, minority-owned businesses digging out of a “deep, dark hole” due to such initiatives as the $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund. “Those kinds of initiatives did not and would not take place under a Republican-led Congress, which tends to favor big business,” Robinson says.

A shift in power would result in a “wholesale lack of sensitivity” in the policy-making process, adds Robinson. He believes the GOP is less concerned about inclusion while Democrats understand the benefits of creating provisions to aid minority businesses that have historically created jobs for people of color.

Robert Smith, a San Francisco State University political scientist, maintains that a GOP-controlled congress would likely use its appropriations power to slow down implementation of the financial services industry reform bill as well as hold hearings to investigate unfavorable provisions such as the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

Part of that bill seeks to protect minorities from predatory mortgage lending practices that have caused thousands of African Americans and other minorities to lose homes to foreclosure. A recent study by the Center for Responsible Lending found that blacks and Latinos were 70% more likely than whites to lose their homes during 2007-2009. Says Hilary Shelton, who heads the NAACP’s Washington bureau: “One of the biggest concerns facing African Americans in the economic downturn is its residual impact on homeownership. Without sympathetic Democrats heading and sitting on influential committees such as the Financial Services panel, the impact could grow worse.”

Although Obama’s historic healthcare package passed earlier this year, it still is under attack.    Smith says Republicans would not have the power to repeal the bill outright but “if they win either chamber, they’ll try to find various ways to frustrate its implementation.” He says they use the appropriations process to significantly reduce or completely cut off funding for parts of the bill before they go into effect. Such a move would disproportionately harm African Americans and other minorities already burdened by disproportionate healthcare disparities. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report on healthcare reform and people of color, minorities represent 50% of the nation’s uninsured and are less likely to have employer-provided coverage.

More on the elections:

Click here to see our guide to Black candidates running in the 2010 midterm elections, and see where they stand.

The Midterm Elections: Candidate Joyce Elliott

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