Newswire : Rep. Barbara Lee considers run for Chair of the Democratic Caucus

By Freddie Allen (Editor-in-Chief, NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com)
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Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) said that she’s seriously considering running for Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, the fourth-highest ranking position in Democratic leadership in the United States House of Representatives.
“Given where our party is and the direction that it needs to go in…my history and experience demonstrate that I really can help unify the Democratic Party,” Lee said.
As an example, Lee noted her work leading up to the 2016 Democratic presidential primary. Lee said that she didn’t endorse former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. And it wasn’t because of ideological differences; Lee said that she wanted to help craft the party’s agenda.
“I helped negotiate a very progressive, very inclusive Democratic Party platform and both sides—the Clinton delegates and the Sanders delegates—thanked me for that,” Lee said, adding that, bringing people together from diverse backgrounds to accomplish common goals is a role that she has played her entire life.
When it comes to her political career in the U.S. Congress, Lee was instrumental in authoring or co-authoring “every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation including the legislative frameworks for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria,” during President George W. Bush’s administration.
According to her official biography, in 2007, Congresswoman Lee worked with a diverse coalition of members to create the “Out of Poverty Caucus” and she has long advocated for legislative action to end poverty.
As the chair of the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income, Inequality and Opportunity, Congresswoman Lee guides more than 100 members of Congress in crafting and advancing legislation to lift millions of American families out of poverty and into the middle class.
“As a Black woman who has been on public assistance and who has also owned and run a business creating jobs for about 350 people…I think that I can bring a unique perspective to Democratic leadership that can help strengthen the Democratic caucus,” Lee said. “I’m considering running, because I would like to have that perspective at the leadership table to represent a broader and deeper perspective within the country, as chair of the Democratic caucus.”
Lee said that the Democratic Party must focus on “all of the issues that people care about” including challenges facing low-income and working-class families, racial and economic justice, and criminal justice reform.
Congresswoman Lee currently serves on the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee, which oversees all federal government spending, according to her congressional website.
“She serves on three subcommittees (State and Foreign Operations; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs) of the Appropriations Committee and she currently serves as Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus,” Lee’s biography said.
As a priority, Lee said that she’s focused on wresting control of the House from the Republican Party during the 2018 midterm elections. The New York Times reported that, “Democrats, who have been sidelined as the House minority party since 2010, need to flip 24 Republican seats while keeping the 194 seats they currently hold.”
To regain control of the House, Democrats will rely heavily on increasing voter turnout, especially Black voter turnout, during the midterm elections.
Historically, voter turnout in the U.S. is lower during midterm elections compared to presidential elections. Black voter turnout decreased significantly during the 2016 presidential election.
According to an NPR article on voting trends in the U.S., “Many analysts say a natural drop-off was expected in the post-Barack Obama era. But the 2016 voter turnout for African-Americans was not just lower than the Obama years, it was even slightly lower than the 2004 election between George W. Bush and John Kerry.”
Despite the challenges associated with mobilizing voters in a post-Barack Obama era, political analysis shows that energizing Black voters remains critical to the Democratic success at the polls.
NPR reported that Black voters, particularly Black women, were key to Democratic victories in both the Virginia gubernatorial race and the Alabama senate race in 2017.
“Black women are the most loyal and the most consistent Democratic voters and we have never been at the leadership table in the history of Congress,” Lee said.
For many Black voters, that dynamic must change in order for the Democratic Party to remain viable and credible in the Black community.

Obama’s latest gift to his detractors: a $400,000 Wall Street speaking gig

By Shawn Langlois, Marketwatch

Former President Barack ObamaFormer President Barack Obama

Barack Obama once told CBS’s “60 Minutes” that he didn’t “run for office to be helping out a bunch of fat cat bankers on Wall Street.” Of course, he didn’t say anything about them helping him out.
So yes, after a political career often spent unloading on banking industry “fat cats” for their profit lust and splashy lifestyle, Obama has agreed to a $400,000 speaking engagement on healthcare policies at bond broker Cantor Fitzgerald, according to Fox Business.
In other words, one day of inspirational words and fist bumps with some of Wall Street’s finest will net the former president what it took him an entire year to earn while calling shots at the White House.
The big payout would also put his price at double the average amount commanded by Bill and Hillary Clinton on the circuit, where the duo cashed in on more than $150 million over the years, according to CNN numbers crunched last year.
The fact that Obama, like so many presidents and politicians before him, is chasing Wall Street cake shouldn’t come as a surprise. The amount, however, is rather eye-popping. Add this to their $60-million book deal — a whopping four times Bill Clinton’s post-presidency offer — and the Obamas should get by just fine in their retirement years.
A pair of popular Democratic Party senators took shots at former president Barack Obama‘s $400,000 speaking fee for a future Wall Street event, a rate that equaled his yearly presidential salary. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders shared their opinions about the fee with the media, although other Democrats and liberals have taken similar speaking engagements in times past.
In speaking with SiriusXM’s Alter Family Politics show, Sen. Warren of Massachusetts didn’t mince words in answering Andy Cohen‘s inquiry about the fee. “I was troubled by that,” said Warren, writes Yahoo News. “One of the things I talk about in the book [the recently-published This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class] is the influence of money. I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington. And that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington.”
While Warren’s point that Wall Street’s influence on politics is troublesome, Obama is not in a position to run for office nor has made it known he has any aims to lobby to sitting politicians on behalf of the finance world.
Bloomberg’s Steven Dennis spoke with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, also levied his criticism. “I think it’s unfortunate. President Obama is now a private citizen and he can do anything he wants to but I think it’s unfortunate,” said Sanders, while adding the word “unfortunate” a third time in his reply to Dennis..
The Democratic Party and liberals, in general, have turned a critical eye towards Wall Street. Yet the practice of former government leaders and officials using their expertise to earn money in the speaking arena is not new. Former president Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke have all taken high-paying speaker fees in varying intervals.
Also in place are lobbying bans that Obama himself instituted while in office that would hinder former employees to address government officials on behalf of Wall Street and other special interests.
To be sure, senators Warren and Sanders have long-standing issues with Wall Street’s political influence and have said in previous times they felt Obama took it easy on financial institutions while shunning middle-class concerns. Obama has yet to respond to the criticism.