Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Op-Ed: Bargaining For the Least Of These

By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.

Finally, we have a President who stands up for the least of these! I applaud the President for finding a way to get the middle class tax cuts and the unemployed a new lease on life—to get them through the next 13 months and through the winter by extending unemployment insurance. I think the most urgent thing for the President to do was to lift up the least of these in the spirit of the upcoming holiday season. Tonight all over the news, a debate is going on about the compromise, but I will bet that among the least of these who have heard this news, there is no debate. There is just the joy and thanksgiving.

For those who have little or no income, the President has given them a survival line. I have listened to parents who saw no way to give their children a normal holiday season, and I have heard the fear and anguish in their voices about not being able to do so. We’ve been through too many fights during the past two years for us to believe that we have the luxury to turn down a chance to help the most vulnerable among us. The President refused to say poor people and the unemployed must wait until Congress could strike the perfect deal for them. The President understands why they cannot wait.

I believe in hard bargaining when you have got the power to back you up, but I don’t see the sense in an all or nothing approach when we don’t have the fire power to back up the President’s fight. If you ask the people who stood to lose the most—those with no job—I would be willing to bet they did not want the President to deny them a chance to have a few dollars to try to meet basic needs while our leaders are working to turn the economy around. No, they can’t wait.

The President did the right thing, whether we like it or not. The President knows well how to do the right thing—as opposed to always being right. The President has been out there working his heart out to resolve the challenges he inherited, and I applaud him.

I am sticking with the President, and trusting that he is doing the very best he can. This is an emergency action to handle a crisis. This President is realistic, and I am glad he chose to bargain for the least of these without playing political games while unemployed American suffer even more. Fighting just for the sake of fighting is not very smart. The President was smart enough to know this. Since I was a little girl, I was taught that we often have to compromise in life, and that in bargaining, no one gets everything he/she wants. The deal the President reached with a Party that has said “No” to everything for the past two years, is not perfect, but it is defensible, and I will stand with the President who is standing with the least of these. They are enjoying a victory tonight—and I am proud of this President who has accomplished so much, and has through this action on the issue of tax cuts for the middle class and unemployment insurance for the jobless made a lot of families happy. They know that a little bit of something for the least of these is better than a whole lot of nothing for all!

(Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq. is National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women, Inc. You may reach her by calling 202/678-6788.)

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