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Rep. James Clyburn Pushes Back Against Critics of Dems, CBC

Rep. James Clyburn addresses black bloggers about the midterm elections on Thursday.And he did it with a history lesson.

In a fiery presser on Capitol Hill Thursday where he at times seemed visibly frustrated, South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn blasted members of the Democratic base who were withdrawing support, money during the Midterm elections. He said those Liberal and progressive critics who get stuck on things like the health care bill not being exactly what they wanted lose sight of the long battle.

"I don't understand this notion that if I can't get everything right now then there's no tomorrow," Clyburn said.

More after the jump.

Clyburn was holding an on-the-record chat with black bloggers, invited to his office at the Capitol, the latest high profile interaction a member of the Democratic Party has made in an effort to reach out to the African American online community to build support for candidates in the contentious midterms where the Democrats face losing their majorities in Congress.

Democrats and President Obama have received criticism from the left for the health care legislation, which they charged did not go far enough. Some are now abandoning their support, leading Clyburn to decry their actions. Pointing out that if members of the pro-civil rights coalition had stopped supporting pro-civil rights candidates simply because the Civil Rights Act of 1964 didn't contain everything they wanted -- a provision on protecting the right to vote by getting rid of literacy tests and poll taxes -- the movement would have dissolved.

The 1964 Act did not cover voting rights in order to insure passage. It only outlawed discrimination in the private sector.

"Some said we rather not have any bill at all if you take voting (rights) out," he said. "There was a split among the Civil Rights community ... But (President) Johnson had the votes so he went for it."

Clyburn argued that Liberals need to have the long-view.

"(President Lyndon) Johnson said a half a loaf is better than no loaf at all," Clyburn said.

In 1964, Johnson was up for election against Republican candidate Barry Goldwater, a hardline, anti-civil rights conservative from Arizona. With the help of activists and supporters, Johnson won the campaign, Democrats took majorities in Congress. With their wins came the passage of a multitude of bills that helped the African American community and poor people -- from the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to the Great Society Plan -- the latter of which that would go on to be expanded under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

"Suppose those people who walked off the field said I'm not going to vote (in 1964)," Clyburn asked. "We didn't walk off the field. We defeated (Barry) Goldwater."

Clyburn said for young people to become disillusioned and give up support for the President and Democrats now was irresponsible.

"Give me a break. How foolish is that," he said.

Clyburn also launched into a passionate and at times defiant defense of the Congressional Black Caucus against criticism that they haven't done enough for African Americans.

"There are 41 African Americans in our caucus and you don't get to 218 (a majority vote in Congress) without us. We're busting out butts out there to get to 218," he said. "We passed the black farmer's bill five times! We passed the damn bill! But (the CBC) ain't in the Senate. Y'all ought to be camped out at the Senate, but you keep coming around here asking what are you doing? What are you doing?"

The representative was referring to the fact that the House has been successful at passing legislation that was part of the President's agenda, as well as legislation that helps African Americans, but in many cases those bills have been tied up in the Senate. He also pointed how money for historically black colleges and universities, as well as community colleges was passed in the health care bill due to reconciliation.

"The Black Caucus did that!" he said.

Clyburn then broke down what people stood to lose if Congress changed hands. Pointing out the many leadership positions members of the Congressional Black Caucus hold in Congress and how all stood to lose those leadership positions to conservatives, and in some of those cases hardliners like Rep. Peter King of New York. These are committee leadership positions that deal with civil rights, justice and homeland security.

"Stay off the field if you want to," Clyburn said, then warned. "Those who fail to learn lessons about history are bound to repeat them.

"You can walk away because you got everything you want," he said, now pushing back against traditional Dem donors who were holding their purse strings. "George Soros, I don't know him, but he's giving $100 million to some humanities group because he's angry. We lose this election there's not going to be much humanity left."

It was then, towards the middle of the session, Clyburn pointed to the old black and white portraits that lined the wall behind him. They were of the past black members of the South Carolina Congressional delegation behind. These were the black men who represented South Carolina after the Civil War. Clyburn points out that from the last elected man on the wall 97 years passed before another black person was elected to represent his home state again.

"If it happened before it could happen again," he warned.

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Reader Comments (22)

Right on! Right on again. We Americans have a very serious case of ADD if not ADHD. Please go take your medication and open a history book!

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterColHghts

I respect Rep Clyburn. He is a great leader in SC and National Politics

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe_A

I whole heartedly agree. It's almost comical how people are now "angry" at the president and his lack of progress with legislation. But I'm wondering if people expected him to have super human powers and erase the last 10 years. Also, people are overlooking the fact that he's been in office since Jan 09 and it's a year and a half later, instead of asking why the country isn't shiny brand new again people should wonder what the country will look like in 2 and a half years if the elections go a certain way and we really have a halt to progress.

It's not enough to vote 1 time every 4 years.
Unfortunately one man can't do it all.

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMim


This passive whining ish is for the birds....!

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdivaliscious11

As a native son of South Carolina myself, what Clyburn should be asking the HELL, did they allow Alvin Greene to get elected!

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPaul W

man, this guy speaks the truth.

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdewfish

I think that the Rep Clyburn conference call is a clear indicator how important the black blogging community really is. It is no secret that black bloggers have a tremendous amount of influence over the online community...This translates into political power if used properly. At my blog The Urban Politico we have been having the exact same discussion amongst ourselves. I've been saying all day today that We (black bloggers) need to discuss and organize an agenda which can be presented to the DNC, CBC, etc in exchange for our influence. It is silly to continue to contribute to furthering the agenda of the Dem party, without being brought to table to help shape and influence policy in some way.

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGodson

We want a hero, we want superman, so he can fly in with his suit, charm and dashing looks and do everything. After the president and first lady passed at the innaugural parade, the crowd pretty much stampeded away. To hell with the hundreds of people (among them black high school kids, young people, college students) who practiced for hours and waiting in horrible freezing conditions to do their thing. Today on NPR a young black woman at Xavier said she was all excited to vote in 2008 because it was Barack Obama "and he's black and ...". She wasn't even aware, she said, that there was a mid-term election coming up. Responsible citizenship is about being knowledgeable and aware, about pressing your congressional and senate representatives for answers, action and responses. It's not just casting your vote every four years. I don't like everything about this adminstration, far from it. But after the previous adminstration (with help from Dems) practically took a dump on our economy, our safety, the lives and liberties of so many young soldiers, I don't get how so many ppl, black and white, are prepared to throw up their arms and do nothing. Do you really like what we had before America?

October 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNia J

I think it is important to understand why Democrats are mad at the President. When the slogan of change came rolling through, the impassioned delegation of followers wanted expediency and change at all cost. They expected the President to stand firm, with an iron rod in his spine and take on the heavy issues of the day to change the direction of the country. However, somewhere along the way they forgot the grade school civics lesson of how government works. Any act by the leadership requires the use of the checks and balance system. He cannot make laws alone, nor can he “change” the rules of the game without the support of the electorate.

Understanding that tough times cause pain and anguish in the hearts and minds of people, the Democrats are still continuing to play a game of chance with the will of the people. They are operating on borrowed time, and are contemplating the forge of force voted for by the people. They appear to be running scared. Even though healthcare, credit card reform, and student provisions have all been passed, the middle class person who is still a working class citizen, has not defaulted on a home, has no children in school, and has responsibly utilized credit as a means to build wealth, has not benefited in a large way from any of the President’s policies. The tax credits provided are a “pinch” from the larger pie being eaten by the irresponsible and low income (both not necessarily one and the same).

At issue is the impact. What impact have the policies truly made on the responsible working middle class? The reverberations of the policies have rippled through some parts of America, but they have yet to touch the lives of ordinary people who for the most part are responsible citizens. If you pay your bills on time, have a job, finished your education without debt, work for a company that pays benefits, and never owned a clunker, then you only receive tax benefits from the policies at tax time. Since many of the people in this category have middle class wealth including a home (or two), a car (or two), and live a middle class existence, then the taxes they pay on a daily basis for services including home expenditures far exceed the pinch of tax credits offered by the Obama policies. This is why the Tea Party is enraged. They represent ordinary people who are still stuck paying the tab for the less fortunate and the irresponsible (both not necessarily the same people).

In order to make the impact felt amid the (let’s call them “The Good Stewards”) Good Stewards, policies that aid responsibility need to be awarded and enacted. If the President provided tax cuts for second home ownership, rental property, and technology investments, these are things that get responsible people talking positively. Additionally, providing a break to residential investment and commercial real estate holders for vacancies during this downward economy will help to prop up portions of the industry hit hard by the downturn. There are responsible real estate investors that are trying to hold on, but seem to get lumped in with “the rich” when they are just Good Stewards who are plotting a path to wealth building in this country. The President needs to understand that responsibility should pay more than irresponsibility, just like minimum wage should pay more than welfare and government benefits (hint).

Too many times we keep tuning in to the misfortunes of people who are struggling, only to find they dug the personal ditch they are in. However, the government safety net comes running to the rescue of those people faster than it does to reward the people who have remained steadfast and steady handed with financial investment and preparedness. We can’t keep stepping over the responsible to aid the irresponsible. We can be our Brother’s Keeper without stepping over the Good Steward, and giving everything away to the perpetual financial calamity of the irresponsible.

Whoopi Goldberg said in the very beginning of this financial mess that it would have been better to take all of the TARP and Stimulus money and use it to buy down housing loans by 25%. She may have had a point. If that money had reduced the housing cost by 25% for residential investors, the Good Stewards may have taken the money to reinvest in the properties to improve residential infrastructure, therefore creating additional jobs in manufacturing, construction, technology, and the appliance industry. The problem is the investors need the capital to make the improvements. (Hear the bank doors closing in 5….4…3….2…1)

The middle class label should not be a monolithic universal caricature of greater America. The "middle class” (should be segmented) label does not draw upon the top tier of the average American who is doing the right things. In order to change the direction of the country or any organization you must first train the leaders and top producers to see the long range vision. President Obama needs to start talking about what policies are in the future as if he is starting anew. If he wants people to follow a visionary, he should focus on the top tier instead of the poor performers. Otherwise, if he just keeps talking about what he has accomplished thus far, which hasn’t impacted the Good Stewards, consider it game over.


October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJustice

Jimmy is right. Obama was just telling everyone at a recent campaign rally about how long it took to end slavery.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterScott

Rep Clyburn is a family friend, so I'm a little biased, BUT it is such a relief ti finally have someone in the spotlight from SC who makes me proud instead of making me cringe.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterG

oops! I meant "to" instead of "ti"

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterG

Alvin Greene to get elected?

To what?

I missed that election.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersammy

Cenk Uygur, Markos, Taylor Marsh, Arianna Huffingtonm, Jane Hamsher, Michael Moore, Glen Greenwald and so many other of the white professional educated class have been trying to undermind President Obama from the beginning. They deserve to be derided as “The Professional Left”.

These people use every opportunity they can not just to criticizing but to trash President Obama on their weekly rounds of the pundit teevee shows and in print. They are so busy whinning about what has not been done to their satisfaction that they have no clue about what has.

Nor do they care. These people are wealthy and are not impacted by whatever happens in any election. They are going to get paid one way or another. And as lone as they attack the President, they will get as much time on the public air waves as they want.

Some of us do know what has been accomplished in 20 months inspite of all of the republicans some Democrats obstructing all the way, assisted by the so-called media, which is also primarily white.

Talk about Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Such an easy thing to transation from attacking President Bush (which was deserved) to attacking President Obama. It barely took a deep breath.

Almost reflexively, they will can find something or someway to attack President Obama.

There is hatred among the white professional educated class on the left that started during the run up to the election when Hillary Clinton and now President Obama Barack were running for the nomination. They just about lost their frigging minds when President Obama won the nomination. They still cling to this hatred and are still fighting Hillary’s Clinton’s lost battle.

Their goal is to help bring down President Obama to “prove” that Hillary Clinton should have been president. Just like the republicans and many in what passes for the media (not just Fox) they are just ticked off that President Obama has accomplishes something. Plus, no one will ever convince me that much of their attacks are because the President is black.

They should stop the whinning and just STFU. No one will force them to vote for the Democrats. Vote for the republicans for all I care. Remember, they are going to get paid no matter what..

But like I said earlier, just STFU and stop the incessant whinning.

One more thing: I always knew that the white professional left would eventually attack the President; it was just a matter of when the attacks would start.

But what I really resent are those blacks who want to be a member of the Uygur/Markos/Marsh/Arianna/Hamsher/Moore/Greenwald/White Professional Left posse, that they participate in the attacks even to the point of quoting Glen Beck and Fox noise. How disgusting is that.

And don't forget the self-promoting race pimps and "black" scholars who would run over their own children to appear on the teevee chat shows to attack the President.

I curse them all.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersammy

This should have read " Plus, no one will ever convince me that much of their attacks are NOT because the President is black".

And educated.

And well spoken.

And has class.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commentersammy

I hate to throw a wrench in the ardent supporter responses, but I, like many other lifelong Dems, am tired of the same old progress takes time, nothing is achieved without struggle blah blah. I am not saying the CBC or House is solely responsible for the abysmal state of affairs, but when a distinct minority continues to impede progress, I lose enthusiasm to rally the troops and re-elect an incompetent majority. Rep. Clyburn is correct, civil rights were not achieved overnight and the Act of 1964 was not perfect. The problems we face today are not nearly as complex or difficult to solve as civil rights. Democrats are standing in their own way. Sadly, I admire Republicans, though they are rarely correct, they always have the courage to stand up for what they believe in and refuse to compromise, risking their reputations for their cause. When have Democrats ever held their ground against a challenge whether from conservative Democrats or Republicans? I'm a recent law school graduate and finding a job in this economy is very difficult. Tell me what my party has done to make my employment possibilities better? I have to agree with the previous post, Democrats need to earn my vote and so far, they haven't. It's time to hold the party accountable. Electing a Black President wasn't enough. Here's another cliche term for them-I dare to be dissatified.

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeentheredonethat

@Been there done that

Question - why is it your party's responsibility to make you finding a job any better? Hell, what has the Republican party done to make your employment possibility any better? I can point to a few things they did in the first 8 of the previous 10 years to make it significantly harder, and as one who has been practicing law during that 10 year period, I can absolutely confirm that, barring mediocre grades and a crappy law school, the tanking of the economy has been the number one driver of job loss, creation stagnation, and hiring freezes.

There is a complete difference between saying things take time over a period of 5, 10, 15 years versus TWO! Two years, where we were on the brink of a depression. Two years when a whole group of people have damn near taken up arms, primarily because B'Raka is BLACK, because i don't buy that its the spending ish...Dub-yah spent money like a high roller in Vegas and n'er one of them tea Party folks said a dayum thing about it.

What distinct minority is impeding progress?

You can dare to be dissatisfied, but back it up with reality and fact, counselor.

October 4, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterdivaliscious11

@ divalicious11

October 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNia J

>>It was then, towards the middle of the session, Clyburn pointed to the old black and white portraits that lined the wall behind him. They were of the past black members of the South Carolina Congressional delegation behind. These were the black men who represented South Carolina after the Civil War. Clyburn points out that from the last elected man on the wall 97 years passed before another black person was elected to represent his home state again. "If it happened before it could happen again," he warned.<<

No black congressional reps from S.C. for another 97 years? Surely Mr. Clyburn is joking since he made absolutely no mention of the fact that each of those post Civil War era men on the wall behind James Clybur were REPUBLICANS. Nor was there any mention of the fact that South Carolina's 1st Congressional District's GOP candidate Tim Scott who is leading in all of the polls in his predominately white also an African-American!

For a detailed history of those great Republican congressmen depicted on the wall behind my 6th District Congressman, please check this link:

October 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAdakin Valorem

We often hear the mantra of how the last 8 years of the previous administration; ‘drove us into the ditch’ and therefore, ‘we shouldn’t give them the keys back’.

But looking at the actual year by year employment statistics from the Bureau of Labor a slightly different picture is painted.

When George Bush first took office in January 2001, there was a relatively mild recession (compared to today). The history revisionists won’t remember this, but the unemployment rate started to climb during Clinton’s final year in office, from 4.0% in 1999 to 4.7% in January 2001. Here in the 6th Congressional District, the unemployment rate averaged around 7.9%.

In 2000, Bush’s campaign promise was to cut taxes across the board for every wage group in all five tax brackets. He wanted to nip that recessionary trend at the bud. After months of debate with Rep. James Clyburn’s party, the House finally approved Bush’s tax cuts subject to the provision that they would expire at the end of 2010.

Bush cut 33% from the lowest tax bracket, taking it from 15% down to 10%, helping those at bottom of the wage earning ladder. In addition, he negotiated progressively smaller percentage cuts for those in the higher brackets with the top tax bracket of 39.1% being reduced by 4% down to 35%.

In addition to “sun-setting” the tax cuts, Mr. Clyburn’s party’s demanded that tax cuts be phased in over a five year period. The Democrats didn’t want the tax cuts for the wealthiest of taxpayers to take full effect until 2006 and until 2010 for estate taxes. The bill passed containing the Democrat’s demands.

We all know what happened on September 11th 2001. That attack put a wrench in the unemployment figures. By 2002, unemployment rate had jumped from 4.6% to 5.8%. By 2003 that figure peaked 6.0%. By 2004 the first phase of Bush’s tax cuts were beginning to have their intended affect on the economy and unemployment fell to 5.5% and then to 5.1% in 2005. By 2006 and 2007, the unemployment rate stabilized at 4.6%, which was about the same rate it was when Clinton left office.

That’s what it was when Jim Clyburn, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid took control of Congress in January 2007. Our rate for the 6th District was just under 8%.

Today, after four years of Democratic control of congress, the national unemployment rate is now 9.6% and our own unemployment rate in the 6th Congressional District ranges from 12% to 20%. Recall that it was the Democrats that demanded that the tax cuts be phased in, thus slowing the rate of economic recovery over five years from 2001 to 2006. But once those cuts were fully in effect, business thrived; housing values increased and employment soared.

Also recall it was the Democrats that demanded that on January 1, 2011, all of those job creating tax cuts would expire. Everyone’s taxes will revert back to those original high rates. Even workers in the lowest income bracket will see their tax rate jump, from 10% to 15%... a FIFTY PERCENT increase.

The last item of the Bush tax cuts to be phased in was the estate tax, also known as the “Death Tax”.

In 2001, the estate tax was 55% of all asset value over $675,000. Over the years, that rate and asset value slowly was reduced. By 2009 the rate had dropped to 45%, but the exemption threshold was raised to $3.5 million. By 2010, the estate tax was completely abolished!
George Steinbrenner’s unfortunate recent demise happened during the most ideal year to pass away!

The problem is in 2011, the death tax comes roaring back with a rate of 55% on everything over $1 million.

So why should the typical 6th District voter be concerned about an estate tax for rich folks?

According to the latest Census figures, there are almost Four Thousand family owned businesses in the 6th District that, when combined with the other assets like the home, personal property and vehicles could easily cross into that 55% estate tax threshold.

These are comprised of hundreds of family owned convenience stores, gas stations, sandwich shops, burger joints and barbeque shacks all across our district that employ tens of thousands of African-Americans. Add in family farms to that list and you can easily see that there are hundreds of business enterprises that could be easily be worth over a million bucks in hard asset value. Maybe not cash money, but hard assets that had taxes paid on it when it was first earned, taxes paid when it was held and now taxes paid again when somebody dies.

When an owner dies, the estate tax will often force the liquidation of that small business and the dislocation of all its employees.

The majority of African-American wage earners in the 6th district are employed by just such family owned businesses. And we need to be cognizant of how these tax consequences will impact our employers. Such is the consequence of the tax policy that was negotiated in 2001 by Mr. Clyburn’s party, the same party that has now walked away from their job in congress to come home and campaign.

Walking away left millions of small businesses owners across our nation, and thousands of them right here in our 6th district, without the ability to plan for the future. If you don’t know what your operating costs are going to be, you can’t make hiring decisions. You can’t make purchasing decisions. You can’t make the normal decisions that businesses and families must make, all because Mr. Clyburn and the Democratic Congress walked away from their job without resolving the issue they created back in 2001.

Clyburn and Pelosi adjourned Congress until after the elections. They walked away from having a majority control without resolving the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts. It’s apparent that they are satisfied with the status quo. It’s as if their concern was more about getting reelected than about your being able to keep your job. Noting Mr. Clyburn’s priorities, it’s no wonder that the unemployment in our district has doubled over the last four years.

Even the State paper said of Clyburn: “Many of the issues he ran on in 1992 – most related to job creation in his impoverished district that takes in the Interstate 95 corridor – remain issues today.”

Read Naomi Klein - Shock Doctrine - It is happening this weel in congress on this tax windfall for the rich. Just watch...and then vote in 2012.

December 10, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterT west coast

'It is happening this week in congress on this tax windfall for the rich.' - Twest coast

Yup, the phased in "Bush Tax Cuts, trimmed 33% off the taxes for low income earners (15% down to 10%) and 4% tax cut for the "rich" (39% down to 35%). Only the low income folks got the cut in 2003 while the upper income people had to wait until 2006 before all of the cuts were fully phased in.

And wouldn't you know it... when the tax cuts were fully in place, unemployment rates fell to 4.7% in 2006-07 while the Fed raked in a record high amount of tax revenues after the tax rates were lowered... which is exactly what happened when Reagan lowered rates in the 1980, when Kennedy lowered rates in the 1960s and when Calvin Coolidge lowered rates in the 1920s.

When Mr. Clyburn, Ms Pelosi and Mr. Reid gained control of congress in January 2007, the unemployment rate has climbed to a high of just over 10% and has fallen back to its current 9.8% and tax revenue has decreased.

In anticipation of the impending 2011 tax increase (low income folks get a 50% tax increase, going from 10% to 15%, while the windfall for the "rich" will be a whopping 4%, going from 35% to 39%), and with the imposition of new healthcare and other "benefit" mandates, small businesses don't know what the the regulatory costs will be with a new hire. So the logical thing to do, is to do nothing and make do with the employees that you already have.

Aside from minimum wages, the newly imposed federal regulations that a typical small business has to comply with adds over $10,200 to the cost of hiring a new employee. So that young unskilled kid that wants a job, has to be able to provide a potential employer with at least $20 to $25 worth of income each hour in order to justify her/his $7.50/min wage + gov't mandated benefits.

In the mean time we subsidize unemployment while punitively taxing those that would create jobs. Its the old adage, if you want more of something; Subsidize it. If you want less of something; Tax it.

Instead of having congress pick and choose who wins and who loses, we need to pass "The FairTax" (HR-25) which COMPLETELY untaxes the poor working folks while allowing everyone to pick and choose when they want to pay for the government that they want. See

December 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterClyburn's District Resident
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