Black Caucus sets its goals for 98th Congress
The Congressional Black Caucus has outlined its priorities for the 98th Congress.
The group's 18 members - all Democrats representing urban black communities - have often criticized the Reagan administration's economic program and its impact on minorty groups in the United States. But as the economy has worsened, constituents back home have been calling for alternatives to Reaganomics, not just criticism.
The caucus's basic aim for the next session of Congress is to promote programs that will upgrade the economic status of black people, including:
* Minority business progress, with support from both the private and public sectors. This includes more corporate involvement through contracts for goods and services, technical support, and other services. The caucus also calls for continued increases in federal contracts - already showing an increase to $4.5 billion in 1981 from $1 billion in 1977. The caucus expressed concern over a new federal policy that upgraded 23 black and Hispanic firms from the small business category, based on gross income. Gross income as a measure is deceiving, the caucus says, because the 23 firms basically depend on federal set-aside contracts for minority firms.
Caucus chairman Walter Fauntroy has his own program, the Black Family Plan, as one method of boosting black-owned businesses. He recruited scores of people at the caucus's recent legislative weekend here to initiate the proposal for black people (a $1 contribution from each black American) to develop a $26 million fund to help finance minority entrepreneurs.
* Economic development. This includes the urban jobs and enterprize zone concept, supported by President Reagan, and implementation of the Humphrey-Hawkins full-employment act. Also included are minority ownership in the communications field and reduction of crime in black areas.
* Other goals. These include the traditional aims of the past: quality integrated education, open housing, civil rights, and quality health services. They also concern the elderly, defense, energy, international affairs, and science and technology.
The legislators were hesitant to forecast the fate of their plans should they be offered as legislation during the next Congress. They encouraged blacks to conduct voter registration drives, assess the qualities of all candidates for the upcoming elections, vote for the ''best'' office seeker regardless of party. Ironically, participants often found themselves torn between lambasting the Reagan administration and Reaganomics as a whole or openly admitting that they support some of the President's proposals, such as the urban job and enterprise zones.