A little over two years ago, a black man educated at Ivy League schools was democratically elected to the most powerful office in the world. Most people saw the election of Obama to the U.S. presidency as decisive evidence that affirmative action policies are no longer necessary, if they ever were. Obama seemed to agree with that; while running for president he admitted that when his daughters apply to college, they “should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged.” Yet in spite of a slight trend in high court decisions striking down affirmative action, and ballot initiatives spearheaded by Ward Connerly passing around the country banning affirmative action, the Obama administration has taken the opposite route, continuing to mandate and expand affirmative action policies.
The Obama administration is aggressively using federal agencies to expand affirmative action. Hospitals and healthcare providers recently received notice from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) that they are “federal contractors” based on their TRICARE participation and must provide OFCCP with an affirmative action plan or risk being audited and fined. This surprised many hospitals, since they do not have contracts with the federal government in regards to TRICARE.
Obama is working with Democrats in Congress to implement more affirmative action. The Obamacare legislation contains race-based preferences. Contractors who demonstrate efforts to train individuals from underrepresented minority groups will receive preferences when applying for contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services. The federal stimulus funds also include preferences. Since the Recovery Act dollars come from the federal government, they are subject to federal law set-asides for “Disadvantaged Business Enterprises,” which include minorities and women.
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