In his keynote address this morning to his organization’s annual convention in Los Angeles, NAACP President Ben Jealous called upon congressional leaders to let the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire to address the nation’s debt.
The lower rates on upper- and middle-income earners, originally enacted during the Bush presidency, were extended by President Barack Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress in December 2010.
Jealous also warned of a resurgence of racism in the United States, which he claimed had arisen in reaction to the election of Obama as America’s first black president. He cited that alleged racism as the motivation for the passage of new voter ID laws in several dozen states, as well as laws making it more difficult for former felons to vote, which he equated with the Jim Crow laws of the segregationist past. Jealous threatened to approach the United Nations to complain about these laws if they were not rejected.
On the Tea Party, Jealous condemned what he called its “worst” elements, while stating he was not condemning everyone in it. Jealous also lamented that Tea Party favorite Nikki Haley, whom he referred to as “the first governor of color of the state of South Carolina,” would “permit the Confederate flag to fly in front of her state capitol every day.”
“What would Gandhi do?” Jealous asked, referring to Haley’s Indian heritage.
Jealous also highlighted the NAACP’s recent success in expanding its membership and improving its finances. The audience, however, only swelled to half full, with the western third of the hall almost entirely empty.