Joe Biden, former vice president and current presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has unveiled a plan to help narrow race-based economic inequalities.
The former Delaware senator unveiled the racial justice component of his new “Build Back Better” plan on Tuesday during a campaign appearance in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, and says it will “deal with systemic racism and advance racial equity in our economy.” The plan will leverage more than $150 billion in new capital and opportunities for groups that have been “structurally excluded for generations.” The candidate plans to extend Obama-era policies by increasing new equity investment in small businesses owned by Black people.
Biden will increase access to low-interest business loans by funding nonprofit lenders in Black communities. The plan includes measures to provide more opportunities for Black entrepreneurs by allocating $30 billion towards the Small Business Opportunity Fund.
The plan cited a study that found that Black business owners who contacted banks were given inferior treatment compared to whites half of the time, even when their credit histories and profiles were identical to those of their white counterparts. To combat this discrimination, Biden plans to provide coronavirus relief packages to businesses owned by Black people, and strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act, which ensures banks and other financial institutions serve all members of the community responsibly.
Biden also plans to invest in infrastructure in Black communities by repairing lights, roads and sidewalks, upgrading schools and building parks, and improving transit systems.
The plan also includes modifications to the justice system. He plans to ensure formerly incarcerated people have housing upon reentry, and that these individuals can still leverage public assistance services like SNAP and Pell Grants. In addition, Biden will seek to abolish the cash bail system, which he says “disproportionately harms Black and Brown people.”
Finally, Biden plans to create more equitable workplaces by doubling funding to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The plan references a study which found that half of Black people reported experiencing racial discrimination in the workplace. He plans to empower the EEOC to address this discrimination. Biden says he will address the “Black-white pay gap,” by ending pay discrimination and increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. To address disparities in agriculture, Biden plans to assist Black people in purchasing and maintaining ownership of farm land through a Farm Land Purchase Assistance Program.
On social media, some politicians and pundits responded positively to Biden’s economic plan, while others were critical. Congresswoman Joyce Beatty, who represents Ohio’s 3rd District, took to Twitter to applaud Biden’s economic plan for recognizing how systemic racism impacts economic inequity.
Conservative podcast host Stacy Washington, a leading member of a group called Black Voices for Trump, was not impressed by Biden’s speech and pointed to what she called his track record of denying the impacts of systemic racism.
In another tweet, Washington asserted that Biden created mass incarceration through the 1994 crime bill.
During the announcement of the plan, Biden called himself the “antithesis of Trump.” He received backlash earlier this year for saying Black people who support Trump, “ain’t Black,” and has been challenged by Black public figures like Charlamagne Tha God to be more specific in establishing a Black agenda.