In a recent interview with Black Enterprise magazine, President Barack Obama bristled at criticism that he has received, from some circles, about his supposed lack of action on behalf of black businesses:
How do you respond to criticism that your administration hasn’t done enough to support black businesses?
My general view has been consistent throughout, which is that I want all businesses to succeed. I want all Americans to have opportunity. I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America, but the programs that we have put in place have been directed at those folks who are least able to get financing through conventional means, who have been in the past locked out of opportunities that were available to everybody. So, I’ll put my track record up against anybody in terms of us putting in place broad-based programs that ultimately had a huge benefit for African American businesses.
The resurrected financial services industry hasn’t stepped up in terms of providing adequate capital to small- and minority-owned businesses.
There is no doubt that American taxpayers stepped in and pulled the banking industry out of the fire. It was controversial. It was messy. Ultimately it was the right thing to do for the economy. But it is true that once banks got back on their feet they haven’t been as aggressive in lending to small and medium-sized businesses as we would like. And I’ve had conversations with the major banks about this issue. What they will say is that some of the additional regulations have impeded some of their capacity to lend. We don’t see major evidence of that.
The president and his administration has frequently reinforced the notion that the White House shows no preferential treatment towards any particular racial or ethnic groups, which has inspired both skepticism on the Right and anger on the Left. The president usually avoids making definitive statements on racial matters. Still when he has, for example in the case of Henry Louis Gates arrest, the results are almost always controversial. Only time will tell if this latest remark will garner the customary firestorm his occasional forays into this heated topic inspires.