Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford
Through members of the Trump Campaign I was asked to present a plan for Minority Business Development. That motivated me since there wasn’t such a request made since the George W. Bush campaign. The following is my frank response:
- Repeal Project Labor Agreements: Executive Order 13502 which requires union shops (Project Labor Agreements – PLA) only for federal construction projects over $1 million should be repealed immediately. Only 2% of Black-owned construction companies are union. This executive order is discriminatory in nature and raises unemployment rates by blocking out the vast majority of Black, Hispanic and female construction workers from equal employment opportunity. It is so ironic that the nation’s first Black president made this his first executive order – discriminating against Blacks and other minorities with a smile on his face.
- OFCCP Audits (Dept. of Labor): Perform EEO-1 (Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) audits on local construction union trade halls. Some trades will resemble Jim Crow Era activity. Corrective action should be immediate. Any lack of correction should result in decertification.
- Delete the Clean Power Plan: President Obama stated that he was going to “kill coal.” He has almost done it. With Hillary Clinton cheering him on, the coal industry has taken a severe blow with 65% of coal companies in bankruptcy. The next administration should put the industry on “resuscitation.” Let’s continue to use clean coal as it is the cheapest form of energy and a very large employer of Black workers. Those thousands of jobs that have been lost throughout America should start making their way back during the first half of next year. The Clean Power Plan which was the lethal vehicle in this process has been put on hold by the US Supreme Court. It should be permanently removed by the next Administration. This is terribly important to underserved communities. All forms of energy, including fossil fuels, should be exploited for our economic backbone guarantee.
- Educational Attainment: Good education is the prosperous road to economic empowerment. So why has this administration eliminated educational opportunity for hundreds of thousand students by attacking for profit schools, blocking charter schools and pushing Common Core? The Department of Education should be eliminated and individual states should hold this great responsibility.
- Environment Protection Agency: The Environmental Protection Agency has applied billions of dollars against the economic status of the Middle Class. There should be a thorough audit of the true costs of all rules and regulations that have been forced upon our industries and consumers. After that we should begin the cleansing process of all detrimental actions.
- Health Care: The Affordable Care Act, AKA Obamacare, is a terrible failure. Within the next two years the majority of insurance carriers will exit this program. We should begin finding a replacement as soon as possible. We are heading towards a crisis in medical care. It was not an improvement.
- Rule of Law: A good nation must abide by the Rule of Law. We need a Department of Justice that understands this and will be committed to it. The Email Scandal, the IRS Scandal, The Pay for Play Scandal at the State Department, the Sanctuary City Scandals, the Veterans’ Administration Scandal and this is to name just a few scandals. History will show this Administration to be the most corrupt in the history of the United States. All of this is going on and collectively puts our nation at risk. We must demand an honest and courageous Attorney General – one who would rather resign than to do something anti-constitutional or sell out our nation. The first thing we can do is review all of the denials to investigate by the last two Attorney Generals. Those matters that demand investigation should be investigated. Corruption is the “first cousin” to discrimination. They limit high performance in management and fiscal excellence.
- Fiscal Matters: Let’s look at our fiscal matters. The Estate Tax is onerous and it should be totally eliminated. A family’s net worth should not be taxed whenever the matriarch or patriarch passes on. This is cruel and heartless.
Our national debt is at dangerous levels. The ever rising amount is now exceeding 20 Trillion Dollars. Any quick adverse movement could crush us as a viable nation. If we would just cut out all of the graft, waste and full blown incompetence in annual government spending that would be a turn for the better. The latest State Department scandal involves $6 billion in missing procurement money. One example is a procurement agent awarding a $62 million no-bid contract to his WIFE! The files concerning this procurement are empty. This is just one example. $6 billion may be an underestimate as the investigation is just now beginning. Even the current Secretary of State has just granted his daughter a $6 million no-bid grant for her project.
- Immigration: Sanctuary Cities are illegal, dangerous, incentives for low wages and should not be tolerated. Cities, counties and other low level governmental agencies should be severely punished for tolerating such activity. Throughout our nation illegal workers cut into the economic opportunities of our legal citizens. In addition to the illegal migrant workers presence comes organized sex slavery to complement the illegal workers. Such immoral enterprise must be eliminated.
- Restructure the SBA: Budget by budget the Small Business Administration has been reduced to the point of ineffectiveness. Staffing must be increased to address the needs of America’s small business. There is not a more demoralized group of federal workers in the entire government.
- Arbitration Process in 8a Small Business Contracting: The 8a Program is one of the most successful programs in small business procurement. The Small Business Agent is to provide technical support and advice to the assigned 8a business. However, when a general contractor refuses to approve performance of an 8a firm there is no means of arbitration. The Small Business Agent cannot intervene in legal arbitration leaving the 8a firm on its own. The only recourse is for the 8a firm to file suit against the SBA. Some of these disputes can be expensive and last years to the detriment of the low funded 8a firm. There are horror stories!
- Alaska Native Corporations: Presently the Alaska Native Corporations program is incorporated into the 8a Program. ANC’s are given various exceptions and advantages versus the 8a rules. Exceptions in size standards, race, graduation dates, subcontracting limits, etc. make them superior to valid 8a firms. Thus, ANC’s are predatory versus bona fide 8a firms. The volume of traditional 8a awards immediately started shrinking by the billions of dollars and transferred to ANC volume since the start of this peculiar program. Contrary to the name of the program many of these ANC companies are owned by Caucasian, blond and blue eyed individuals who attain billions of dollars in sales and reside outside of Alaska. This first became noticed by the National Black Chamber of Commerce when reviewing a significant drop in minority 8a business contracts awarded during the mid – 1990’s and then the contracting activity during the Katrina rebuilding process in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Solution: The ANC Program should be separate and noncompetitive with the 8a program (it is different).
- Section 3 of the HUD Act (CFR 24 Part 135): This is one of the greatest written job training programs in the Federal Government. It was written during the tenure of Secretary Jack Kemp in response to the Watts Riot of 1965. It was then strengthened after the Rodney King Riot of 1992. However, for the most part, this job training program is ignored to the detriment of millions of poverty stricken persons. Billions of dollars are spent on HUD funded projects that require significant but low level labor. Residents living in HUD properties or low income communities can be trained with on the job work and become permanently employed. Many of these residents and low income persons can become entrepreneurs and further multiply employment. However, there hasn’t been an administration dedicated to this process. Thus, poverty goes on and that is a total disgrace. America needs a president who will enforce Section 3 of the HUD Act.
- Capital Access: The Dodd – Frank Act has seriously limited the amount of capital available to small business especially minority business. The government should now place incentives that will encourage the banking industry to become more creative in improving the access levels for small business. HUD can approve funding through its Community Development Block Grant program to enable towns, cities and counties to provide lending to local small businesses. JP Morgan Chase has introduced a small business program that could be emulated and enlarged.
- Marketing and Publicizing Great Programs and Opportunities: Federal Agencies can improve implementing positive programs by utilizing the Black press network of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA). This will get the news and opportunities of the above programs to the grassroots of the Black population of America. Tailored advertising will make minority businesses more aware of the opportunities that exist. This could drive more minority businesses to programs and offices of the Small Business Administration.
- Small Business Goals in Federal Contracting: Each fiscal year goals are set for Small Business Contracting. However, there is never any follow-up announced. Are the goals aggressive and realistic or are they “pie in the sky? Goals should be set by the following criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Compatible = SMAC. The success or failure of the goals should be published and thoroughly explained.
Mr. Alford is the Co-Founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce ®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: [email protected].