“It’s about jobs—good paying jobs, financial stability, building wealth for families of color.”
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden believes closing the racial wealth gap is not only the right thing to do—it will also help the economy.
“It’s about jobs—good paying jobs, financial stability, building wealth for families of color,” the former vice president said during a speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday. “It’s about economic growth for our country and outperforming the rest of the world to stay ahead.”
Biden’s proposal aimed at advancing racial equity in America is the fourth and final plank of his “Build Back Better” economic agenda. During the month of July, the presidential hopeful has detailed plans to ramp up manufacturing in the U.S., create jobs around clean energy and a major overhaul of the “caregiving economy.”
“For generations, Americans who are Black, brown, Native American, immigrant, have always found that they’ve been pushed out—not fully included from our democracy & our economy,” Biden said. “It’s by pure courage, heart and grit—they never gave up.”
Many of the policy proposals mentioned Tuesday have already been released by the campaign and detailed in the other three pillars of his plan to revitalize the economy. The racial equity piece would devote $30 billion—10% of the $300 billion Biden aims to invest in research and development to stimulate the economy—to a small business opportunity fund. Biden said this investment would yield $150 billion in venture capital and low-interest business loans.
“It will allow the expanded federal support for the most effective state, local, and nonprofit programs to provide venture capital and finances for minority business owners and communities in need,” he explained. “It will also allow us to support community development banks that have a proven record of investing in minority small businesses.”
Biden’s proposal also seeks to expand Black and brown home ownership with a housing plan that includes an up-to-$15,000 refundable tax credit for first-time homebuyers to combat racial inequality in housing markets, along with an investment to construct 1.5 million homes and public housing units, and the elimination of housing regulations thought to perpetuate discrimination.
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And for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, the candidate pledged 50% of emergency small business relief.
“This would help minority-owned businesses get life-saving loans before the well-connected businesses jumped to the head of the line,” Biden said.
Maurice Mitchell, a prominent figure in the Movement for Black Lives and national director of the Working Families Party, told the Associated Press there are some “promising items” in Biden’s proposals, but added, “There’s more we need.” Looking beyond the campaign, Mitchell said, “It’s not a matter of what’s in Biden’s platform.” Instead, he said, “the power of the movement in the streets will dictate the results of a Biden administration. Fortunately, the movement for racial justice has never been stronger.”
Biden also used his extended news conference—his third in four months—to continue his attacks on President Donald Trump’s handling of the economy amid the global health crisis.
“Everything is worsened by this crisis of presidential leadership,” he said.
“[Trump] can’t beat the pandemic and keep you safe,” Biden said. “He can’t turn the economy around and get America back to work, and he is horrifyingly, and not surprisingly, intentionally stoking the flames of division and racism in this country.”
Biden has been critical of the president, accusing him of inciting racial division among Americans.
This month alone, the president tweeted—and later deleted—a video of a supporter yelling “white power.” He referred to the Black Lives Matter mantra as a “symbol of hate.” He took a swipe at NASCAR for removing the Confederate flag from its races and falsely suggested a Black driver had carried out a racially charged hoax.
The Trump administration also recently repealed an Obama-era policy that aimed to reduce discriminatory housing policies and practices.
“I’ve done more for Black Americans than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln,” President Trump said last week.
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Biden’s campaign has painted a stark contrast between the candidate and Trump. In his racial equity proposal, the campaign writes: “[Biden] believes in an economy where every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead. An economy more vibrant and more powerful precisely because everybody will be included in the deal. An economy where Black, Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, and Native American workers and families are finally welcomed as full participants.”