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Biden Vows Agenda to Fight Inequality

Offers economic plans in sharp contrast with Trump

7/28/2020, 4:19 p.m.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden promised Tuesday that his economic agenda would combat long-standing racial inequalities as he sought to ...
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at the William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 28. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

As part of his attacks on Trump’s approach to race, Biden blasted the president for ordering federal authorities to intervene against protests in places like Portland, Oregon, and Chicago, while small businesses around the country continue to struggle or shut down because of the coronavirus.

The president, Biden said, is trying to distract and scare voters. Biden said most demonstrators are “peaceful protesters” who don’t require a response from the federal government. “Arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted,” Biden said, and “local law enforcement can do that.”

Still, Biden said “this election is not just about voting against Donald Trump. It’s about rising to this moment of crisis, understanding people’s struggle and building a future worthy of their courage and ambition to overcome.”

And he said that means thinking about every policy debate in terms of structural inequalities.

The former vice president wants to take $30 billion, or 10% of federal investment he’s already promised as part of larger economic plans, and funnel it into a “Small Business Opportunity Fund” designed to leverage $5 of private investment for minority owned enterprises for each $1 in public funds allocated. He also plans to spend $50 billion to provide startup capital that can help entrepreneurs of color start businesses in disadvantaged areas.

To encourage home ownership, the plan would create a $15,000 federal tax credit to help low-and middle-income families cover down payments on their first homes. It also pledges to build 1.5 million new homes and public housing units in hopes of addressing the affordable housing crisis that has hit many of the nation’s cities and disproportionately hurt people of color.

Biden also said the Federal Reserve’s mission should be revised to specifically charge the central bank with addressing “persistent racial gaps” in economic opportunities and wealth, rather than a more general focus on maximum employment and stable pricing.

Biden similarly vowed to undo Trump administration regulatory changes that the Democratic presidential nominee says “gutted” Obama administration rules preventing housing discrimination and unfair lending practices.

Asked about the possibility of a congressional study on the feasibility of federal reparations to descendants of enslaved Black people, senior campaign officials said Biden wouldn’t oppose it. But they defended Tuesday’s proposal as doing more to benefit Black Americans in the short term, saying, “He is not going to wait on a study to create change.”

Biden’s plan also doesn’t endorse legalizing marijuana, though it seeks to clear court hurdles so states can better identify nonviolent offenders whose records they might opt to expunge. Black and Hispanic Americans often face far harsher penalties for crimes involving marijuana possession than white people.

The Democratic National Committee’s convention platform committee voted by a wide margin on Monday to keep language calling for legalization of marijuana nationwide out of the party’s platform.