Former Vice President Joe Biden unveiled Tuesday a plan to advance racial equity in the rebuilding of the economy, a day after he announced a plan to advance women’s equality.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee unveiled the plan on Medium called “Build Back Better by Advancing Racial Equality Across the American Economy.”
“Black and Brown families — and especially Black and Brown women — face disadvantages at every turn, from access to workplace retirement accounts to access to generational wealth,” Biden’s plan said. “These disadvantages have resulted in large and persistent gaps in financial wealth.”
To help bridge the generational wealth gap, Biden said in the plan that he would help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new tax credit of up to $15,000. He also said that he would invest in affordable housing, and call for more accurate, non-discriminatory credit scoring.
Among other steps to narrow the generational wealth gap between White Americans and Black, Latino, Asian and Native Americans, the plan calls for creating a new Small Business Opportunity Fund. It also calls for expanding the New Markets Tax Credit to $5 billion annually and making it permanent. And it calls for passing legislation to require the Federal Reserve to report data and trends on racial economic gaps and commit to a “real-time” payment system to eliminate the time it takes for checks to clear.
Biden’s plan is based on the premise that the U.S. economy must be built back better than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic to create a more inclusive economy where everyone is included and gets an equal opportunity to succeed regardless of race.
“The pandemic has shone a bright light on racial disparities in health and healthcare — as Black and Brown Americans have suffered and died from the coronavirus at rates far higher than white Americans,” the plan noted. “The economic crisis has hit Black and Brown communities especially hard, with Black unemployment at 15.4%, Latino unemployment at 14.5%, and businesses owned by Black, Latino and Asian American people closing down at alarming rates. We are also seeing a national reckoning on racial justice and the tragic human costs of systemic racism in the murder of George Floyd and so many other Black men, women, and children. And through it all, the climate crisis mounts, with air and water pollution, superstorms and extreme weather, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities.”
“Accumulated inequality and discrimination,” has led to a generational wealth gap between Black and White persons, a Brookings Institute report shows. This began with 246 years of chattel slavery, followed by congressional mismanagement of the Freedman’s Savings Bank, and the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, which decimated a successful Black business community known as “Black Wall Street.” Then, discrimination in the Jim Crow-era segregation era limiting access to the G.I. Bill benefits for veterans, and redlining afterward, making African Americans ineligible for credit.
At $171,000, the net worth of a typical White family was nearly 10 times greater than a Black family in 2016, the Brookings report noted. The Social Security Act of 1935 also excluded agricultural and domestic workers, a large percentage of whom were African Americans
On Monday, Biden also unveiled an agenda for women to work toward full inclusion and equality.
Biden said in a statement Monday that women, especially women of color, “have never had a fair shot,” with regard to opportunity in the country.
“Women hold only 32% of the wealth men have accumulated and women of color only hold pennies on every dollar a white man holds,” the plan noted.
The plan has five main goals: improve economic security; expand access to healthcare and tackle health inequalities; help women navigate work and families; end violence against women; and protect and empower women around the world.
To work toward these goals, Biden said he will create a White House Council on Gender Equality. The Council’s sole mission will be to guide and coordinate government policy that impacts women and girls, such as economic policy, healthcare, racial justice, gender-based violence and foreign policy.
If elected president, Biden said that he would lead by example by making sure his cabinet and federal workforce reflect the country’s diversity. He has also committed to selecting a woman to be his vice president and an African American woman to be his first nominee in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Biden added that he will also reissue and mandate strict compliance with an Obama-Biden executive order to promote diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce and provide more training and mentoring to improve retention. He will also modify it to mandate that Cabinet agencies and other executive branch agencies work with federal employee unions on diversity and inclusion in the federal workforce.
Biden will work with advocates across the country to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which guarantees that “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” The ERA was passed by the U.S. Senate and sent to the states for ratification on March 22, 1972. Virginia ratified the ERA in January of this year, giving it the three-fourths majority to be ratified to become law, but the ratification deadline had expired in the 1980s. Biden would advocate for Congress to “take action so our Constitution makes clear that any government-related discrimination against women is unconstitutional,” the plan said.
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