Tuesday, August 6, 2013

CBC Chair Marcia Fudge’s Statement on Detroit Filing Bankruptcy

WASHINGTON, DC (Link) - Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Chair Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) released the following statement:

“The CBC stands with the citizens, workers, and retirees of the City of Detroit as the city faces an unprecedented fiscal situation and a possible chapter 9 bankruptcy.” 

“The problems in Detroit have not been caused by its residents, municipal workers and retirees. The current crisis Detroit faces is due to much larger economic forces, including the deindustrialization of our cities, and specifically, the decline of the Detroit-based auto industry; a deliberate policy of the state of Michigan to suburbanize the Detroit metro area; a 50% reduction in longstanding state-shared revenues to its cities and towns since 2002; and pervasive poverty. Detroit’s per capita income is 60% less than the per capita income of the state as a whole.

“As members of Congress representing districts throughout the country, we find it alarming that a major city like Detroit is even filing for bankruptcy. At a minimum this should be a reason to reevaluate current economic policy and to end the fiscal austerity that has made matters worse for Detroit and that harms all Americans, particularly those in our inner cities. Random budget cuts weaken our cities and kill jobs. We should put an end to austerity policies now, hit the reset button and begin reinvesting in America by fixing our crumbling infrastructure, and by funding education, public safety and other vital local services. 

“We also think it is time to begin developing a real urban economic policy, one that creates jobs and helps foster an economy that works for all the citizens of this nation, not just the wealthy few. The difficulties facing Detroit and other American cities are symptoms of a larger problem. Too many inner city residents lack jobs and economic opportunities. 

“Some want to unfairly make city workers and their pensions the scapegoats, but they are not the problem. Since 2012, the pensions of non-uniformed workers in Detroit have been reduced by 40% and the average pension is now just $19,000 per year. The city’s employees have also taken a 10 percent pay cut during the last fiscal year. These public workers have made real sacrifices, and now is the time for others to do their part. Bankruptcy should not become the excuse to break contracts, cut pensions and vilify individuals who make our cities safe and livable.

“The CBC strongly condemns the divisive political posturing exhibited by some Members of Congress who have offered proposals aimed at blocking any type of federal assistance for Detroit.  These same members have no qualms with requesting federal assistance when fertilizer plant explosions, hurricanes, record snowfall, or drought have negatively affected their communities.  And yet, they give a cold shoulder to one of America’s great cities in its moment of greatest need.

“The CBC is pleased that President Obama and Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council, have stepped forward to offer help with regard to  federal grants and other assistance to Detroit.  We stand ready to work with the Obama Administration, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), and our colleagues in Congress to devise an immediate infusion of federal assistance for Detroit that creates new economic opportunities, mitigates the effects of fiscal austerity, maintains critical city services, prevents the privatization of public assets, and preserves the livelihood and retirement security of the city’s residents.” 

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