Celeste Headlee, The Takeaway
Celeste Headlee, is a former co-host of The Takeaway.
It's a busy news day. Lawmakers worked through the night in order to send the financial overhaul bill out of committee; the President speaks about it from the White House before he leaves for the G8 summit; oil hits the white sand beaches of Florida for the first time; hurricanes begin to form off the coast of Mexico. But the story that stays with me, the headline that breaks my heart, is the renewed disappointment among black farmers who have waited for years to get justice and will now have to wait even longer.
A group of African-Americans filed suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They accused the government of open discrimination in denying them loans based on racial prejudices. The USDA admitted to racism, and decided to compensate the farmers. About 15,000 received a payment from the government, but thousands of others who missed the filing deadline are still waiting for their checks. Congress promised to pay them a couple years ago, more than a decade after the original judgment, but the farmers are still waiting. And waiting.
And while the American taxpayers hardly balked over the increase in the national debt after billions of bailout payments to banks, insurance companies, and automakers, some lawmakers now refuse to pay these farmers on the principle of fiscal responsibility.This should be a much bigger headline than it is. The government conducts business using our money, my money, and I take issue with these priorities. To add insult to deep injury, the Senators who voted against this bill were also denying payment to thousands of Native Americans in the Cobell suit. We owe this money; they deserve justice. Let's pay our debts.