Joe Biden to unveil plan to fight racial inequities

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) – U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday will detail a proposal to battle racial economic inequality, including improving access to capital for minority-owned businesses, increasing investment in disadvantaged communities and making housing more affordable.

The plan, which Biden will announce in a speech in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, is the fourth and final plank of Biden’s plan to revitalize the coronavirus-hit U.S. economy.

The former vice president is trying to draw a contrast between his vision for economic recovery and what he has assailed as a disastrous response to the pandemic from Republican President Donald Trump, his opponent in the Nov. 3 election. Trump has touted trillions in stimulus dollars the administration and Congress provided in the pandemic’s wake.

Biden’s plans to date have included investing trillions of dollars in manufacturing and innovation, clean energy and childcare. Republican critics have said the plans will lead to higher taxes.

The campaign has not detailed how it would pay for every proposal, though it has said raising the corporate tax rate to 28%, rolling back Trump tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and eliminating tax loopholes would cover much of the cost.

In a briefing, senior Biden campaign officials told reporters he would devote $30 billion of the $300 billion in innovation funding he previously announced to a new small business opportunity fund. The investment would leverage $5 in private investment for every $1 of public money, the campaign estimated.

In total, the plan would lead to $50 billion in public-private venture capital and another $100 billion in low-interest business loans for mostly minority-owned businesses, officials said.

Biden would also triple the federal goal for contracting with small disadvantaged businesses from 5% to 15% of all federal procurement dollars, after previously proposing a $400 billion increase in procurement spending on American-made products.

The proposal includes investment in affordable housing and a tax credit of up to $15,000 for low- and middle-class families, which the campaign said would largely aid minority communities.

Months of protests following the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minnesota, have thrust the issue of race to the forefront of the campaign. Biden last week called Trump the first racist to become U.S. president, a statement Trump’s re-election campaign quickly denounced.

While some of Biden’s proposals could be achieved through executive orders, the big-ticket items would require Congress to pass legislation. That could be difficult if Republicans maintain their hold on the U.S. Senate in November’s elections.

Biden, who is expected to announce his vice presidential running mate soon, has been under increasing pressure to pick a Black woman. He leads Trump in national polls three months before the election.

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