Donald Lambro

Black leaders admit that they held their tongues and kept quiet in public, despite their frustrations. But as the complaints grew back home about the dismal economic environment blacks face, the feedback is becoming a bit more testy and more critical.

"We concluded they were just kind of listening to us and that then they would go back (to their offices) and conclude that we would do nothing," Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, the CBC's vice chairman, told the Post's Michael Leahy. "Because they had concluded there's a black president in the White House and that, to some degree, the Black Caucus, you know, was constrained in expressing its desires. After a while, we said, 'Hey, we see what's going on and it's nothing.'"

Black leaders met privately with Obama earlier this month, but thus far they remain in line with his economic policies, more big-spending jobs bills, higher taxes to pay for them and an increased minimum wage that at $7.25 an hour has priced younger blacks out of the workforce.

And state minimum-wage laws are pushing the hourly wage higher to $8 or more in places such as California, Illinois and Massachusetts, where it is a job killer.

Raising the minimum wage was one of Obama's first economic moves and, to a large degree, is responsible for reducing the number of jobs for unskilled, unemployed blacks who are disproportionately high-school dropouts. As Democrats and Obama have pushed the minimum wage ever higher, entry-level jobs for the unskilled have fallen sharply and black unemployment has grown exponentially.

While Obama spends his time bashing the big banks and the insurance companies and business, the entry-level jobs these black Americans are desperately seeking have disappeared.

Black leaders last week were pushing for more spending on summer youth jobs, government training programs and public-works projects when they should be calling for a lower minimum wage, or a youth differential wage to make them employable again.

When black leaders came out of the White House following their one-hour meeting earlier this month, California Rep. Barbara Lee, who heads the CBC, said, "We talked about the desperation that we're feeling in our communities throughout the country."

That desperation is only going to get worse as long as Barack Obama and black leaders continue to pursue the same old tax-and-spend policies to grow government instead of policies that will grow the private economy.


Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.