By Jacob M. Schlesinger

July 13, 2020

“We need a comprehensive agenda for racial equity in this country. This isn’t just about police reform,” the candidate said in an economic policy speech Thursday.

In that speech, at a Pennsylvania metal-works factory, Mr. Biden laid out his plans to try to return manufacturing jobs to the U.S. from overseas. In the coming weeks, he will unveil plans promoting clean energy and boosting child and elder care. Nearly all of those proposals, the candidate and his aides say, will contain a racial equity element.

Most of Mr. Biden’s new spending would assist all lower and middle-income families regardless of race, so it is unclear how much would actually end up with Black households. That includes his priciest items, such as expanding access to government-backed health insurance.

“This is truly a set of policies to ‘lift every voice,’ not necessarily Black voices,” says Duke economist William A. Darity Jr., an expert on the racial wealth gap. “However desirable these initiatives, they can have only limited effects on Black-white wealth differentials.”

The Biden plan targets some funding directly to minority families and communities. He proposes $70 billion in additional federal money for historically Black colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions, up sharply from current levels. He vows to eliminate the estimated $23 billion annual budget gap between public K-12 schools in white and nonwhite neighborhoods. He would spend $100 billion building new affordable housing units. Believing that expanding Black small business is crucial to building Black wealth, Mr. Biden offers measures to improve access to capital for those companies.

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