Joe Biden has unveiled a plan that aims to ensure the United States’ post-pandemic economic recovery is built around promoting racial equality.
The former vice president’s plan promises to dramatically boost investment in African American-owned small businesses and encourage home ownership while closing wealth gaps among minority communities.
Much of the 26-page proposal – and the billions in federal spending needed to pay for it – had already been promised as part of previous, larger plans from Mr Biden to jump-start the economy when the coronavirus outbreak begins to recede.
But as protests against institutional racism and police brutality have swept the country in recent months, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is attempting to show voters that he is committed to implementing specific remedies that can promote racial and economic equality should he win the White House in November.
It is also another way Mr Biden is aiming to offer a stark contrast to President Donald Trump, who has spent weeks vowing to restore “law and order” and ordering federal authorities to intervene against ongoing protests in places like Portland, Oregon, and Chicago.
Mr Biden will announce the plan during an afternoon speech near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.
He wants to take 30 billion dollars, or 10% of federal investment he has already promised as part of larger economic plans, and funnel it into a Small Business Opportunity Fund designed to leverage 5 dollars of private investment for minority-owned enterprises for each 1 dollar in public funds allocated. He also plans to spend 50 billion dollars to provide start-up capital that can help entrepreneurs of colour start businesses in disadvantaged areas.
To encourage home ownership, the plan would create a 15,000 dollar 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 the hope of addressing the “affordable housing crisis” which has hit many of the nation’s marquee cities and disproportionately hurt people of colour.
Mr Biden similarly vowed to undo Trump administration regulatory changes which 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 in the United States, senior Biden officials said their candidate would not oppose such a study. But they defended the 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”.
Mr Biden’s plan also does not endorse legalising marijuana, though it seeks to clear logistical court hurdles so that states can better identify non-violent offenders whose records they might opt to expunge. Black and Hispanic Americans often face far harsher penalties for crimes involving marijuana possession than their white counterparts.
The Democratic National Committee has voted by a wide margin to keep language calling for legalisation of marijuana nationwide out of the party’s platform.