Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has had an outspoken recess, sparring with the Tea Party, the president and other members of Congress during the Congressional Black Caucus's (CBC) multicity jobs tour.
Tuesday night was no different, as the congresswoman urged President Obama to use his bully pulpit to demand that "gangsta" banks offer mortgage modifications that would enable people to stay in their homes or face withering taxation.
"It's time for the bully pulpit of the White House to bring the gangstas in, put them around the table and let them know that if they don't come up with loan modifications and keep people in their homes that they've worked so hard for, we're gonna tax them out of business," Waters said at an event in Los Angeles.
Waters generated controversy earlier on the tour when she said that the Tea Party "could go straight to hell." Acknowledging the dust-up, Waters said that those in the black community should learn from the Tea Party's political success.
"When you first mentioned the Tea Party, I thought you were going to ask me to repeat where I told them to go. But, you’re right — why does such a small group of people have so much power? It’s because they decided to show up. Somehow we think that something is going to happen even if we don’t show up. That’s what they did — they organized. They invested in what they wanted to do. We come from a legacy of organizers. We’ve got to get up and show up," Waters said.
The Tea Party continued to be the subject of heated discussion among the audience and the event's panel, which echoed Waters' critique that the focus on limited government would mean reducing important social programs to the black community. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, speaking at the same event, likened the Tea Party political philosophy to states' rights arguments used in the Civil War.
“This is the Fort Sumter party, distinguished from the Boston party,” Jackson said. “This is in the legend of Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee.”
Rep. Andrè Carson (D-Ind.), the CBC whip, made waves earlier this week when he said at a town hall that many Tea Party-affiliated members of Congress see African-Americans as “second-class citizens” and would be happy to see blacks “hanging from a tree.”
Carson and Waters's comments prompted Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), the lone Republican in the CBC, to say yesterday that he was considering leaving the group. Waters and West sparred earlier this month when West said that Waters and other Democratic leaders were “overseers” on a “21st century plantation" and likened himself to a "modern-day Harriet Tubman," leading black voters to the Republican party.