Biden Lays Out Plan to Address Racial Injustice, Slams Trump

July 29, 2020by Janet Hook and Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times (TNS)
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the William Hicks Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 28, 2020. (Mark Makela/Getty Images/TNS)

Joe Biden on Tuesday unveiled plans for addressing systemic racism that has put Black people and other nonwhite communities at an economic disadvantage, promising “bold, practical investments” to rebuild as the country struggles with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and as American streets are rocked by protests over racial injustice.

In a speech in Wilmington, Delaware, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee called for several programs aimed at shrinking the racial wealth gap, including setting aside for people of color 10% of a proposed $300 billion small business assistance fund and shaping other policies on housing, infrastructure and clean energy specifically to benefit nonwhite communities.

Biden framed his agenda as continuing the legacy of two civil rights leaders who recently died, the Rev. C.T. Vivian and Rep. John Lewis; Biden said he spoke with the congressman from Georgia just before his death July 17.

“He asked that we stay focused on the work left undone to heal this nation, to remain undaunted by the public health crisis and this economic crisis which has taken the blinders off and showed the systemic racism for what it is,” Biden said.

The former vice president called on Congress to pass a new Voting Rights Act, which was reintroduced this week in Lewis’ memory. If it is not passed before the election, he pledged to back the legislation if he becomes president.

Biden’s plan to address racial inequities is the final piece of a four-part “Build Back Better” plan to fix the U.S. economy, which has been ravaged by the COVID-19 outbreak and the displacement of millions of American workers.

Other elements of the agenda, rolled out over the last month, are a $700 billion proposal to reinvigorate the nation’s manufacturing sector, a $2 trillion effort to build renewable energy infrastructure, and a $775 billion overhaul of the nation’s system to care for children, the elderly and the disabled.

Biden said he introduced the proposals to make a proactive, progressive case for his candidacy. But he acknowledged that much of his appeal in this race may boil down to who he is not: President Donald Trump.

“I’m running because Trump is the president, and I think our democracy is at stake, for real,” Biden told reporters. Many people, he added, “view me as the antithesis of Trump, and I believe that I am.”

Biden offered a scathing assessment of Trump’s handling of the pandemic and civic unrest. He accused the president of stoking division for political gain.

“This isn’t about law and order. It’s about a strategy to revive a failing campaign,” he said. “Every instinct Trump has is to add fuel to any fire. And it’s the last thing we need.”

Biden’s final economic policy plank is being unveiled at a time when many polls show the former vice president gaining on Trump on economic issues — the president’s main remaining area of advantage.

For months, even as polls showed voters preferring Biden on most measures of leadership, they still preferred Trump to handle the economy. That edge has now all but vanished. The latest Washington Post/ABC poll, for example, found voters almost evenly divided on which candidate to trust on the economy, with Trump favored by 47% and Biden by 45%.

Biden enjoys broad support among Black voters, but he has drawn some fire from the African American community for offhand comments that have been regarded as racially insensitive. Recently, he called Trump the “first racist president,” overlooking the fact that many presidents owned slaves and supported segregation. He offended some Black people when, on “The Breakfast Club” radio show, he said that if Black people “have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” He later apologized for the remark.

The GOP was quick to point out those comments and blamed Biden’s 1994 crime bill for contributing to mass incarceration of Black and brown people.

“Joe Biden’s racist record has delivered nothing but bad policies that have hurt Black Americans. No speech can change his track record, no remarks can fix the fact that he has put the economic advancement of the entire Black community last for over four decades,” Paris Dennard, an adviser to the Republican National Committee, said in a statement prior to the speech.

But Biden’s Tuesday address gave him a new opportunity to highlight sharp contrasts on race between himself and Trump, who has shown sympathies for white supremacists and has been accused of stoking racial tensions for political purposes.

Biden’s plan specifies how earlier proposals would be structured to help communities of color. His infrastructure proposal earmarks 40% of spending for disadvantaged communities. He plans to call for targeting more federal contracts to Black and Latino small businesses. And he will call on the Federal Reserve to do more to identify and address racial gaps in wealth, wages and jobs.

He also pointed to past criminal convictions as a barrier to upward mobility and pledged that, as president, he would have the federal government assist states to expunge ex-offenders’ records.

“Getting caught for smoking marijuana when you’re young surely shouldn’t deny you the rest of your life being able have a good-paying job, a career, a loan or the ability to rent an apartment,” he said.

Biden’s plan includes no mention of addressing racism through reparations to descendants of slaves — a proposal that is more of a political hot button.

Asked whether Biden would support legislation in Congress to set up a commission to study reparations, a senior campaign official said, “The vice president doesn’t have a problem with the study, but he believes there are things we can do right now — we do not have to wait on a study to tell us — to dramatically change the lives of Black and brown people in America.”

Biden reiterated that his choice for a running mate will be coming soon — the first week in August, to be precise.

“I promise, I’ll let you know when I do” have a pick, he told a reporter.

Asked if he’d speak to the candidate face to face, he responded, “We’ll see,” and said masks will be a must for any in-person meetings if they happen. He revealed that he has not been tested for the coronavirus.


©2020 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

2020 Elections

Assessing U.S. Canadian Border Policy’s Future Effects
Foreign Affairs
Assessing U.S. Canadian Border Policy’s Future Effects
August 7, 2020
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON - Canada is not usually at the center of debate on U.S. immigration, but policy changes due to COVID-19 have atypically limited travel to Canada and affected the United States’ and Canada’s control of the movement of people and goods across their shared border in... Read More

Wine Sellers Brace for Second Round of Tariffs
Wine Sellers Brace for Second Round of Tariffs
August 7, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - As if a global health crisis wasn't enough to have on their plate, wine sellers are bracing for the imposition of another round of tariffs that could raise the price of imported European wines and other products by as much as 100%. Though no... Read More

Filing a Complaint With FEC Commission the Start of A Long and Winding Process
Filing a Complaint With FEC Commission the Start of A Long and Winding Process
August 7, 2020
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - Every month an email from the Federal Election Commission arrives in the inbox with a certain insouciant inevitability. "Pending advisory opinion requests," it says. "That's right," you say to yourself. "They're back to not having a quorum on the commission board." It's never a... Read More

Commission Turns Down Trump’s Request for Fourth Debate
Political News
Commission Turns Down Trump’s Request for Fourth Debate

WASHINGTON — The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates on Thursday rejected the Trump campaign’s request for an additional debate against Joe Biden in early September as well as its efforts to select moderators for the three scheduled debates. The commission wrote to President Donald Trump’s lawyer... Read More

Drop in US Jobless Claims Offers Hope for Battered Economy
Drop in US Jobless Claims Offers Hope for Battered Economy

WASHINGTON — Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week to the lowest since March, offering a ray of hope for an economy still battered by the pandemic. Initial jobless claims in regular state programs fell by 249,000 to 1.19 million in the week ended... Read More

Chances Waning for Unemployment Relief for Millions as Talks Sputter
Chances Waning for Unemployment Relief for Millions as Talks Sputter

WASHINGTON — Prospects for a quick deal to extend supplemental unemployment benefits and other stimulus for an economy still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic have taken a sharp turn for the worse, leaving millions of Americans in the lurch a week after many benefits expired. The... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top