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Rep. Maxine Waters says blacks want Obama to get tough

The L.A. Democrat says unhappiness with the president is rising among African Americans who want him to stand up to Republicans and fight for the poor.

August 18, 2011|By Michael Muskal, Los Angeles Times
  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) says it is time for President Obama to get tough with Republicans and push for more programs to help the poor, especially in the African American community.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) says it is time for President Obama to… (Pabo Martinez Monsivais,…)

As far as Rep. Maxine Waters in concerned, it is time for President Obama to get tough with Republicans and put together proposals that help the poor and especially the hard-hit African American community.

Speaking at a job fair in Atlanta on Thursday, the fiery Los Angeles Democrat said there was rising unhappiness among African Americans with the nation's first black president.

"There is a growing frustration in this country and in minority communities because the unemployment rates are so high," Waters said in televised remarks. She went on to cite home foreclosures and the increasing wealth gap between blacks and whites for "creating frustration and, yes, some anger" in the black community, which wants to see Obama take on his opponents.

"The president is going to have to fight and he is going to have to fight hard," she said.

Referring to the recent battle with Republicans over raising the debt ceiling, a fight that many liberals see as having been won by the conservative GOP, Waters called on the president and fellow Democrats not to be intimidated. "You cannot back down," she said.

"We were basically held up in raising the debt ceiling, until they got all of those budget cuts they demanded," Waters said. "We didn't raise any revenue and they didn't close any tax loopholes. I believe the Democratic Party and the president of the United States should not have backed down. We should have made them walk the plank."

Waters also expressed frustration with the nation's high unemployment rate, and she pointed out that Obama did not visit any African American communities during his recent three-day Midwest tour to highlight economic issues.

Rep. Allen West, a black Republican from Florida, also noted that Obama didn't visit any African American communities during the bus trip. In an appearance on the Fox News Channel program "The O'Reilly Factor," West castigated Waters and other African American Democratic leaders as "overseers of this 21st-century plantation" and called on the GOP to push for votes among blacks.

"The laughable hypocrisy is that the big black bus is not going in the black community," West said.

michael.muskal@latimes.com

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