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Mr. CLEAVER. Mr. Chair, I first want to acknowledge all 42 members of the Congressional Black Caucus who endorsed this presentation, but especially our Budget, Appropriations, and Taxation Taskforce and the FY13 Budget chairs, Congressman Bobby Scott, Congresswoman Gwen Moore, and Congresswoman Karen Bass, who is the emcee at a dinner and cannot be here with us.
This budget, Mr. Chair, itself, is a statement of our beliefs as a Nation. It is the way we choose to run government and help the people we serve. Our FY 2013 alternative Federal budget will address the deficit while protecting important safety net programs needed by our communities.
The CBC's top priorities for the 112th Congress are promoting job creation and economic development, providing lifetime educational opportunities, protecting access to health care, and protecting the right to vote and justice for all Americans. We can only make these priorities a reality by sustaining and strengthening the programs that invest in and protect all Americans, whether it is workforce investment, unemployment insurance, investment in unemployment, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, or with the onslaught of these voter laws across the country, proper funding of the Election Assistance Commission. These programs are vital to national interest because they train our workforce, stabilize our economy, and provide funding for our cities and States throughout the Nation.
I understand that now is the time for us, as Americans, to sacrifice in order to protect our children and our children's children. However, we struggle, as a caucus, to understand how the proposed majority budget helps achieve this goal.
More recently, due to many strategic investments led by the President, the Nation's overall unemployment rate has been lowered; however, the African American unemployment rate remains nearly double the national average. In order to improve this dire situation and to ensure every American's full recovery, we must make smart and targeted investments for all America's vulnerable communities.
Government investment in people, education, infrastructure, and innovation can create jobs. Over time, the jobs created by these strategic investments pay for themselves and then some. Investments allow people to earn, learn, spend, and save. Cutting programs that assist hardworking Americans, help families with their most basic needs, maintain our crumbling infrastructure, and expand access to educational opportunities will only make unemployment statistics worse.
Our success as a Nation is interwoven in the success of all communities. Until we grasp that concept as a Nation, we will never see the full potential of the United States of America; and for that, I am truly concerned.
Mr. Chair, I yield 3 minutes to the chairman of our committee, Bobby Scott of Virginia.
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