Biden’s budget aims for racial equality



WASHINGTON. Six days after his inauguration, President Biden promised that his administration would look at everything through the lens of racial equality, making it “a matter for the entire government.”

On Friday, his $ 6 trillion budget began to deliver on that promise.

The President’s huge spending plan has infiltrated many tens of billions of dollars in programs specifically designed to improve the well-being of blacks, Asians, tribal communities, and other historically underserved groups in the United States.

Biden is not the first president to spend money on such programs. And civil rights advocates said the budget released Friday fell short of expectations in some critical areas, such as student loans, where even more money is needed to correct a long-standing lack of justice and the one-sided burden of minorities, they say.

“This is going in the right direction, but it’s not a perfect document,” said Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, who said he was disappointed that the presidential budget does not include canceling student loan arrears that are disproportionately borne by black Americans. …

But he added that his organization is pleased that the president “continues to ensure justice is one of his priorities” through the budget.

The idea of ​​focusing on the distribution of taxpayer money among racial groups has never been approached as methodically as this year by Mr. Biden, proponents say. Asked about the president’s equity agenda on Friday, Shalanda Young, acting director of the president’s budget, said her department “built this” into the overall spending plan, giving “clear instructions to our agencies that they should use this lens when implemented. these programs ”.

“This is not what we should be talking about,” she said. “This is what should affect the way the government conducts its business.”

Much of the president’s huge budget is spent on spending that is not clearly racialized: health care, education, military, transportation, agriculture, retirement programs, and foreign policy, among other areas.

But for all of these programs, Mr. Biden’s team has proposed spending increases to ensure that people of color and others who are often left behind get a larger share of the pie.

Among the budget items, large and small, that are determined by equity:

  • $ 3 billion to help reduce maternal mortality and eliminate racial disparities in maternal mortality.

  • $ 15 billion for Highway to Neighborhoods, a program that will reconnect neighborhoods cut off from infrastructure projects developed decades ago.

  • $ 900 million to fund Tribal’s efforts to expand affordable housing.

  • $ 936 million for the Environmental and Economic Equity Acceleration Initiative at the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • $ 110 million in Prosperous Communities Initiative to improve equity in transport through grants to low-income communities.

  • $ 39 billion in tuition subsidies for low- and middle-income students attending colleges and universities that are traditionally black and those serving other minority groups.

Mr. Biden anticipated this kind of budgetary decision in his early days in office. In a speech announcing his “fairness agenda,” the president said he intends to go further than his predecessors when it comes to addressing groups he says are too often left behind.

“We must open America’s promise to every American,” he said during his January 26 speech. “And that means we need to make the issue of racial equality more than just a problem for any one government department.”

This approach has angered conservatives, who accuse the president and his advisers of pursuing racist views against white Americans. Fox News published a headline accusing Mr. Biden of trying to “reignite national divisions with ‘racial justice’.” As well as The new york post published an editorial titled “In Pursuit of Justice,” Biden Refuses Equality, “in which he accused the president of” anti-American behavior. “

A group called America First Legal, led by Stephen Miller and Mark Meadows, two top aides to former President Donald Trump, won a preliminary injunction from a Texas judge this week against Mr. Biden’s small business administration’s attempt to prioritize grants from the Restaurant Recovery Fund for $ 28.6 billion to businesses owned by minorities or underserved groups.

“This order is another powerful blow to the unconstitutional decision of the Biden administration to choose winners and losers based on their skin color,” the group said in a statement.

The President is unlikely to back down. In his speech a few days after his inauguration, he promised that “every component of the White House and every agency will be involved in this work, because the advancement of justice should be everyone’s business.”

Yet for all Mr Biden’s flamboyant rhetoric – he once pledged not to let the “narrow, narrow view of this nation’s promise to fester” anymore – his administration on Friday made little effort to focus on the principle or detail the how the equity approach will change the way governments spend money.

During a press conference on Friday’s budget submission, Ms Young and Cecilia Rose, the chairman of the White House National Economic Council – both black women – did not mention the president’s agenda for fairness until a reporter asked the end.

And the budget itself is not trying to quantify the effect of following the president’s instructions for making decisions based on a sense of racial equality. There is no equity section in the budget. On Friday, aides did not send newsletters to reporters touting “equity spending” in the president’s inaugural budget.

This left some of the public relations work to civil rights groups and other advocates, who quickly pointed to examples of spending that would benefit communities that have traditionally been left behind by previous presidents.

Sarah Chiffo, chief lobbyist for the League of Voters for the Environment, an environmental group, pointed to a $ 936 million EPA initiative to improve the environment in low-income communities.

“The importance of this administration’s proposal for the largest investment in history in communities of color and low-income communities that have been subject to environmental racism for decades cannot be overemphasized,” said Ms. Chiffo.

Marcela Howell, president of In Our Own Voice: The National Reproductive Justice Program for Black Women, praised the president for investing in programs that benefit black women.

“Kudos also goes to President Biden for funding important programs to address racial equality and economic security,” she said in a statement, adding that “we welcome the proposed investment in infrastructure and job creation, affordable childcare and job training. strength, education. ” and more.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America issued a statement thanking Mr Biden for what the group called “an important investment” that it says will help “overcome the maternal mortality crisis and its devastating impact on communities of color.”


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