Former Vice President Joe Biden unveiled his proposal on Tuesday to address racial inequities in American public life and the economy, pledging to spend upwards of $150 billion on the endeavor.
Biden, the presumptive Democrat nominee, spoke at length before an audience in Wilmington, Delaware, about his desire to build a post-coronavirus economy that was stronger and more “inclusive” than ever before.
The former vice president said, noting that Americans of color have been disproportionately impacted by the novel coronavirus:
This election is about rising to this moment of crisis. Black and Latinos are three times as likely to be infected and twice as likely to die from the virus as white people… black unemployment is at 15 percent, Latino unemployment at 14.5 percent, while 40 percent of black-owned businesses have had to shut down.
To help address the situation, as well as longstanding racial injustices, Biden is proposing to spend upwards of $150 billion to create new opportunities for “small businesses that have been structurally excluded for generations.” Part of the former vice president’s plan revolves around devoting $30 billion toward the creation of a small business opportunity fund that will cater exclusively to entrepreneurs of color. Expenditures for the fund is part of a broader $300 billion investment in research and development that Biden unveiled earlier this month. Biden’s campaign claims the initial $30 billion would yield $150 billion in low-interest business loans through a wide-reaching public-private venture.
Biden’s plan calls for reforming opportunity zones, equalizing the federal procurement process so minority-owned businesses receive a fair share of governmental contracts, and requiring publicly traded companies to disclose “data on the racial and gender composition of their corporate boards,” among other proposals.
A number of the initiatives within the plan had already been released to the public as part of the former vice president’s “Build Back Better” agenda.
The former vice president’s plan comes as much of the nation is still dealing with protests stemming from George Floyd’s death in police custody. Biden, who has struggled to generate enthusiasm among younger black voters, has spent much of his time since Floyd’s passing arguing that the upcoming general election presents an opportunity to “rip out the roots of systemic racism.”
That message, though, has elicited criticism from Republicans, given the former vice president’s own history of supporting causes at odds with the goals of black and brown voters.
“The basic fact remains that no one should listen to a lecture on racial justice from Joe Biden,” Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the Trump campaign, said on Tuesday in response to Biden’s plan.