Beyond the Rhetoric
By Harry C. Alford
It seemed like the world was changing for the better. People celebrated all over the world about the fact that America just elected its first Black (half Black) President. Millions of people in national capitals went to the streets in euphoria. On election night, I cried in joy for hours. It all seems kind of silly today. Our thoughts and expectations would soon melt into disappointment and our democracy would be threatened by a sea of regulations. With the fervor of a dictatorship our political activity took a strong left turn with a funny interpretation of our Constitution. I thought “Something is wrong here, he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago.”
It didn’t take long before a string of executive orders started flowing out of the White House. The first group of victims under this assault was minority and women construction workers. I was working on the Obama Transition Team when I learned that the new President was going to impose project labor agreements on all construction projects over a million dollars. The president of the Associated General Contractors whispered to me “he is going to sanction PLAs!” I was in disbelief until it was confirmed a few days later. We were able to convince President George W. Bush that construction unions discriminate against people of color and women. He verified the statistics and issued an executive order banning all project labor agreements with federal funds. What a victory! Now it was about to go away thanks to our newly elected Black President. What a shock! The first Black president making a move to hurt Black contractors.
That was just the beginning. Soon Black lending by the SBA would fall from eight percent to less than two percent. Funny, it took investigative reporters to divulge this as the SBA and anyone else in this new administration would not report Black business numbers – lending, contract numbers, contract dollars, etc. They claimed they didn’t keep those numbers. It was just a lie! It wasn’t that they didn’t care. In retrospect, I believe they did it on purpose for some strange reason.
So now I was beginning to oppose the White House. During one of my few visits to the White House, I went up to Michael Strautmanis and stated my displeasure about the vile executive order. He was Valerie Jarrett’s Chief of Staff and I asked him to pass my displeasure on to his boss. While I was there I looked around and realized I didn’t know 95 percent of the people in the room. I started figuring out that most of them were union executives and left-wing extremists. I became nauseated and went home. I told my wife, “Kay we have made a very big mistake. Blacks will not become better with this Obama guy. I believe we have voted for the Devil.”
The assault on Black construction would last throughout both Obama administrations. President Trump ended it as soon as he got into office. However, the NBCC would form coalitions with other associations to fight the onslaught of harmful regulations that would hurt small business the most. That meant most of our federation would suffer if we let the White House have its way. So, we began to contest items dealing with labor, environment, banking, etc. The first big showdown was the Cap and Trade bill. This would be devastating to Black America. Someone financed a very convincing study contesting the proposed bill and donated it to us. We took ownership of the study and started circulating it to the world.
This became very big news and the Democratic party decided to discredit me personally. They controlled both chambers of Congress at the time. Senator Barbara Boxer was Chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee and she called a hearing to discuss the Cap and Trade bill. Someone called to alert me that the Dems were going to set me up. I wasn’t worried as I knew the proposed legislation like the back of my hand.
After reading my testimony the Democratic members pounced. One by one I was strongly winning the debate. Senator Boxer decided she was going to break me. It was a very big mistake on her part. During her frustration, she started becoming racial (“What are you doing with that expensive study?”) and I called her out. When we got back to the office all our workers were laughing. Cable news had our hearing on live. We didn’t know it. For the next two days, it was the biggest news. The whole nation laughed watching me shake down Senator Boxer. The YouTube on the hearing went viral.
The Cap and Trade bill went down from there. They took the responsibility for the bill from Senator Boxer and reassigned it to John Kerry. It was the first loss made by the Obama administration. Little did I know that the White House was starting to fear the National Black Chamber of Commerce. They decided to do something about that.
Mr. Alford is the co–founder, President/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org Email: [email protected].