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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Obama Takes Free-Market View of Lowering Minority Unemployment

At a news conference just concluded, President Obama was asked a question about black unemployment in the U.S., which might hit 20 percent by the end of the year -- more than twice that of the total population's jobless rate of 9.4 percent.

Instead of suggesting targeted spending and programs aimed specifically at reducing black unemployment, as Democrats have advocated in the past, Obama sounded a free-market view of the issue.

"The best thing I can do," Obama said, "is to lift the economy for everyone."

He went on to note how black and Latino unemployment is historically higher than white and overall unemployment.

According to the official numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, black men over 19 are about twice as likely to be unemployed as white men of the same age -- a percentage that has changed little over recent decades.

The Post's Mike Fletcher reported Monday that "black and Latino unemployment rates [are] approaching 20 percent."

You can debate the causes for this until the end of time. And that seemed to be where the questioner was trying to steer Obama -- essentially, asking: What are you going to do about black unemployment?

But Obama took a broader view, saying that groups that are historically harder hit, such as blacks, get hit worse in a recession, such as the one we're now in.

Now, you can argue, and persuasively, that Obama's economic rescue plans have been anything but free-market, as they are based on massive government spending and he himself has said: "But at this particular moment, only government can provide the short-term boost necessary to lift us from a recession this deep and severe."

But given the chance today to take the well-trod Democratic path to fix minority unemployment, Obama channeled a little JFK/Ronald Reagan.

When he said: "The best thing I can do, is to lift the economy for everyone," he may have as easily added, "A rising tide lifts all boats."

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  June 23, 2009; 3:02 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Obama, Reagan  
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