Tag Archives: VP Joe Biden

Amid national protests over police brutality, Trump calling out military against protesters, Biden declares ‘The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism’

VP Joe Biden declares, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amid national protests over police brutality and the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and Donald Trump calling out the military against peaceful protesters outside the White House, VP Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, declares, “The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.

“We are a nation in pain,” Biden declared. “but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us. 

“As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.”

Here is a transcript of Vice President Joe Biden’s speech delivered from the Mayor’s Reception Room in Philadelphia City Hall in front of an audience that included Mayor Jim Kenney, Congressman Brendan Boyle, and state and local elected officials.:

“I can’t breathe.” “I can’t breathe.”
 
George Floyd’s last words. But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation.
 
They speak to a nation where too often just the color of your skin puts your life at risk.
 
They speak to a nation where more than 100,000 people have lost their lives to a virus – and 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment – with a disproportionate number of these deaths and job losses concentrated in black and brown communities.
 
And they speak to a nation where every day millions of people – not at the moment of losing their life – but in the course of living their life – are saying to themselves, “I can’t breathe.”
 
It’s a wake-up call for our nation. For all of us.
 
And I mean all of us. It’s not the first time we’ve heard these words – they’re the same words we heard from Eric Garner when his life was taken six years ago.
 
But it’s time to listen to these words. Understand them. And respond to them – with real action.
 
The country is crying out for leadership. Leadership that can unite us.  Leadership that can bring us together. Leadership that can recognize the pain and deep grief of communities that have had a knee on their neck for too long.
 
But there is no place for violence.
 
No place for looting or destroying property or burning churches, or destroying businesses — many of them built by people of color who for the first time were beginning to realize their dreams and build wealth for their families.
 
Nor is it acceptable for our police — sworn to protect and serve all people — to escalate tensions or resort to excessive violence.
 
We need to distinguish between legitimate peaceful protest — and opportunistic violent destruction.

And we must be vigilant about the violence that’s being done by the incumbent president to our democracy and to the pursuit of justice.
 
When peaceful protestors are dispersed by the order of the President from the doorstep of the people’s house, the White House — using tear gas and flash grenades — in order to stage a photo op at a noble church, we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle.
 
More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care.
 
For that’s what the presidency is: a duty of care — to all of us, not just our voters, not just our donors, but all of us.
 
The President held up a bible at St. John’s church yesterday. 

If he opened it instead of brandishing it, he could have learned something: That we are all called to love one another as we love ourselves.
 
That’s hard work. But it’s the work of America.
 
Donald Trump isn’t interested in doing that work.

Instead he’s preening and sweeping away all the guardrails that have long protected our democracy.
 
Guardrails that have helped make possible this nation’s path to a more perfect union.
 
A union that constantly requires reform and rededication – and yes the protests from voices of those mistreated, ignored, left out and left behind.
 
But it’s a union worth fighting for and that’s why I’m running for President.
 
In addition to the Bible, he might also want to open the U.S. Constitution.
 
If he did, he’d find the First Amendment. It protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
 
Mr. President: That is America.
 
Not horses rising up on their hind legs to push back a peaceful protest. Not using the American military to move against the American people. This nation is a nation of values. Our freedom to speak is the cherished knowledge that lives inside every American.
 
We will not allow any President to quiet our voice. 
 
We won’t let those who see this as an opportunity to sow chaos throw up a smokescreen to distract us from the very real and legitimate grievances at the heart of these protests. 

And we can’t leave this moment thinking we can once again turn away and do nothing. We can’t.
 
The moment has come for our nation to deal with systemic racism. To deal with the growing economic inequality in our nation. And to deal with the denial of the promise of this nation — to so many.
 
I’ve said from the outset of this election that we are in a battle for the soul of this nation. Who we are. What we believe. And maybe most important — who we want to be.
 
It’s all at stake. That is truer today than ever. And it’s in this urgency we can find the path forward.
 
The history of this nation teaches us that it’s in some of our darkest moments of despair that we’ve made some of our greatest progress.
 
The 13th and 14th and 15th Amendments followed the Civil War. The greatest economy in the history of the world grew out of the Great Depression. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 came in the tracks of Bull Connor’s vicious dogs.
 
To paraphrase Reverend Barber — it’s in the mourning we find hope. 

It will take more than talk. We’ve had talk before. We’ve had protests before. 

Let us vow to make this, at last, an era of action to reverse systemic racism with long overdue and concrete changes.
 
That action will not be completed in the first 100 days of my Presidency — or even an entire term.
 
It is the work of a generation.
 
But if this agenda will take time to complete, it should not wait for the first 100 days of my Presidency to get started.
 
A down payment on what is long overdue should come now. Immediately.
 
I call on Congress to act this month on measures that would be a first step in this direction. Starting with real police reform.
 
Congressman Jeffries has a bill to outlaw choke holds. Congress should put it on President Trump’s desk in the next few days.
 
There are other measures: to stop transferring weapons of war to police forces, to improve oversight and accountability, to create a model use of force standard — that also should be made law this month. 
 
No more excuses. No more delays. 
 
If the Senate has time to confirm Trump’s unqualified judicial nominees who will run roughshod over our Constitution, it has time to pass legislation that will give true meaning to our Constitution’s promise of “equal protection of the laws.”
 
Looking ahead, in the first 100 days of my presidency, I have committed to creating a national police oversight commission.
 
I’ve long believed we need real community policing.
 
And we need each and every police department in the country to undertake a comprehensive review of their hiring, their training, and their de-escalation practices.
 
And the federal government should give them the tools and resources they need to implement reforms.
 
Most cops meet the highest standards of their profession. All the more reason that bad cops should be dealt with severely and swiftly. We all need to take a hard look at the culture that allows for these senseless tragedies to keep happening. 
 
And we need to learn from the cities and precincts that are getting it right.
 
We know, though, that to have true justice in America, we need economic justice, too.
 
Here, too, there is much to be done.

As an immediate step, Congress should act to rectify racial inequities in the allocation of COVID-19 recovery funds. 
 
I will be setting forth more of my agenda on economic justice and opportunity in the weeks and months ahead.
 
But it begins with health care. It should be a right not a privilege. The quickest route to universal coverage in this country is to expand Obamacare.
 
We could do it. We should do it.
 
But this president — even now — in the midst of a public health crisis with massive unemployment wants to destroy it.
 
He doesn’t care how many millions of Americans will be hurt— because he is consumed with his blinding ego when it comes to President Obama.
 
The President should withdraw his lawsuit to strike down Obamacare, and the Congress should prepare to act on my proposal to expand Obamacare to millions more.
 
These last few months we have seen America’s true heroes. The health care workers, the nurses, delivery truck drivers, grocery store workers.

We have a new phrase for them: Essential workers.
 
But we need to do more than praise them. We need to pay them.
 
Because if it wasn’t clear before, it’s clear now. This country wasn’t built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs. It was built by America’s great middle class — by our essential workers.
 
I know there is enormous fear and uncertainty and anger in the country. I understand.
 
And I know so many Americans are suffering. Suffering the loss of a loved one. Suffering economic hardships. Suffering under the weight of generation after generation after generation of hurt inflicted on people of color — and on black and Native communities in particular.
 
I know what it means to grieve. My losses are not the same as the losses felt by so many. But I know what it is to feel like you cannot go on.
 
I know what it means to have a black hole of grief sucking at your chest.
 
Just a few days ago marked the fifth anniversary of my son Beau’s passing from cancer. There are still moments when the pain is so great it feels no different from the day he died. But I also know that the best way to bear loss and pain is to turn all that anger and anguish to purpose.
 
And, Americans know what our purpose is as a nation. It has guided us from the very beginning.
 
It’s been reported. That on the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, little Yolanda King came home from school in Atlanta and jumped in her father’s arms.
 
“Oh, Daddy,” she said, “now we will never get our freedom.”
 
Her daddy was reassuring, strong, and brave.
 
“Now don’t you worry, baby,” said Martin Luther King, Jr. “It’s going to be all right.”
 
Amid violence and fear, Dr. King persevered.

He was driven by his dream of a nation where “justice runs down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
 
Then, in 1968 hate would cut him down in Memphis.
 
A few days before Dr. King was murdered, he gave a final Sunday sermon in Washington.
 
He told us that though the arc of a moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.
 
And we know we can bend it — because we have. We have to believe that still. That is our purpose. It’s been our purpose from the beginning.

To become the nation where all men and women are not only created equal — but treated equally.
 
To become the nation defined — in Dr. King’s words — not only by the absence of tension, but by the presence of justice.
 
Today in America it’s hard to keep faith that justice is at hand. I know that. You know that.
 
The pain is raw. The pain is real.
 
A president of the United States must be part of the solution, not the problem. But our president today is part of the problem.
 
When he tweeted the words “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” – those weren’t the words of a president. They were the words of a racist Miami police chief from the 1960s.
 
When he tweeted that protesters “would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs … that’s when people would have been really badly hurt.” Those weren’t the words of a president — those were the kind of words a Bull Connor would have used unleashing his dogs.
 
The American story is about action and reaction. That’s the way history works. We can’t be naïve about that.
 
I wish I could say this hate began with Donald Trump and will end with him. It didn’t and it won’t. American history isn’t a fairytale with a guaranteed happy ending.

The battle for the soul of this nation has been a constant push-and-pull for more than 240 years.
 
A tug of war between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh reality that racism has long torn us apart. The honest truth is both elements are part of the American character.
 
At our best, the American ideal wins out.
 
It’s never a rout. It’s always a fight. And the battle is never finally won.
 
But we can’t ignore the truth that we are at our best when we open our hearts, not when we clench our fists. Donald Trump has turned our country into a battlefield riven by old resentments and fresh fears.
 
He thinks division helps him.
 
His narcissism has become more important than the nation’s well-being he leads.
 
I ask every American to look at where we are now, and think anew: Is this who we are? Is this who we want to be? Is this what we pass on to our kids’ and grandkids’ lives? Fear and finger-pointing rather than hope and the pursuit of happiness? Incompetence and anxiety? Self-absorption and selfishness?
 
Or do we want to be the America we know we can be. The America we know in our hearts we could be and should be.
 
Look, the presidency is a big job. Nobody will get everything right. And I won’t either.
 
But I promise you this. I won’t traffic in fear and division. I won’t fan the flames of hate.
 
I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain.
 
I’ll do my job and take responsibility. I won’t blame others. I’ll never forget that the job isn’t about me.
 
It’s about you.
 
And I’ll work to not only rebuild this nation. But to build it better than it was.
 
To build a better future. That’s what America does.
 
We build the future. It may in fact be the most American thing to do.
 
We hunger for liberty the way Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass did.
 
We thirst for the vote the way Susan B. Anthony and Ella Baker and John Lewis did. We strive to explore the stars, to cure disease, to make this imperfect Union as perfect as we can.
 
We may come up short — but at our best we try.
 
We are facing formidable enemies.
 
They include not only the coronavirus and its terrible impact on our lives and livelihoods, but also the selfishness and fear that have loomed over our national life for the last three years.
 
Defeating those enemies requires us to do our duty — and that duty includes remembering who we should be.

We should be the America of FDR and Eisenhower, of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., of Jonas Salk and Neil Armstrong.
 
We should be the America that cherishes life and liberty and courage.
 
Above all, we should be the America that cherishes each other – each and every one.
 
We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.
 
As President, it is my commitment to all of you to lead on these issues — to listen. Because I truly believe in my heart of hearts, that we can overcome. And when we stand together, finally, as One America, we will rise stronger than before.
 
So reach out to one another. Speak out for one another. And please, please take care of each other.
 
This is the United States of America. And there is nothing we can’t do. If we do it together.

‘Lift Every Voice’: The Biden Plan for Black America

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, offers his plan for Black America (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

In the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump had trouble whipping up even a few African Americans to attend a campaign event, and at one, famously said, “What have you got to lose?”. Now, after the coronavirus pandemic has revealed the extraordinary level of inequality – in health care access, income, environment – in communities of color, resulting in disproportionate numbers of cases and deaths, and his actions to prop up companies and the wealthiest while literally forcing people of color and immigrants on the frontlines to sacrifice their own lives and families for less than a living wage, we now can see “what it is you have to lose.” Trump likes to fantasize about the “lowest unemployment levels” among African Americans, but he had little to do with it. On the other hand, he has done everything possible to remove any of the levers to upward mobility, including making it harder to access food stamps, Medicaid, ending enforcement of work rules, civil rights, voting rights. His actions that will quite literally bankrupt state and local governments mean public workers – those so-called “essential workers” – will lose jobs by the hundreds of thousands. Now former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, offers his own plan for Black America. Here is a fact sheet from the Biden campaign – Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Lift Every Voice: The Biden Plan for Black America

Joe Biden knows that African Americans can never have a fair shot at the American Dream so long as entrenched disparities are allowed to quietly chip away at opportunity. He is running for President to rebuild our economy in a way that finally brings everyone along—and that starts by rooting out systemic racism from our laws, our policies, our institutions, and our hearts.
 
This mission is more important now than ever before, as the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 have shined a light on—and cruelly exacerbated—the disparities long faced by African Americans. In April 2020, Biden called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect more data regarding how COVID-19 is affecting communities, including breaking down its impacts by race. The data we’ve seen so far suggests that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than whites. Long-standing systemic inequalities are  contributing to this disparity—including the fact that African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and to live in communities where they are exposed to high levels of air pollution. African Americans also represent an especially high percentage of the front-line workers putting themselves at greater risk to sustain the economy and keep the rest of the country safe and fed—and are less likely to have a job they can do from home, forcing them to make the difficult choice between their health and a paycheck. While there’s a lot we don’t yet know about COVID-19, we do know that equitable distribution of resources, like testing and medical equipment, can make a difference in fighting the virus. Biden believes this should be a priority and action must be taken now.
 
COVID-19 is also having a disproportionate economic impact on African American families. African American small businesses have been hit hard, and over 90% of African American-owned businesses are estimated to be shut out of the initial relief program due to preexisting, systemic disparities in lending. This is especially dire given that African American families have less of a financial cushion to fall back on in hard times. Biden has been calling for the nation’s relief and recovery efforts to be equitable and just, including by designing relief programs in ways that avoid methods we know lead to disparate outcomes—so that funds can actually reach African American families, communities, and small businesses. President Trump has not heeded his warnings. If Biden were President today, he would make it a top priority to ensure that African American workers, families, and small businesses got the relief they need and deserve.
 
Tackling systemic racism and fighting for civil rights has been a driving force throughout Biden’s career in public service. He has a record of fighting for and delivering for the African American community. As a U.S. Senator he co-sponsored the Civil Rights Act of 1990 to protect against employment discrimination and led multiple reauthorizations of the Voting Rights Act, protecting African Americans’ right to vote. Biden also led efforts to reauthorize and extend the Fair Housing Act, and as Delaware’s Senator, was a vocal advocate and supporter of Delaware State University, the state’s Historically Black University.
 
Today, we need a comprehensive agenda for African Americans with ambition that matches the scale of the challenge and with recognition that race-neutral policies are not a sufficient response to race-based disparities.
 
The Biden Plan for Black America will:

Advance the economic mobility of African Americans and close the racial wealth and income gaps.

Expand access to high-quality education and tackle racial inequity in our education system.

Make far-reaching investments in ending health disparities by race.

Strengthen America’s commitment to justice.

Make the right to vote and the right to equal protection real for African Americans.

Address environmental justice.

ADVANCE THE ECONOMIC MOBILITY OF AFRICAN AMERICANS AND CLOSE THE RACIAL WEALTH AND INCOME GAPS
 
Invest in African American Businesses and Entrepreneurs
 
Approximately 4% of small business owners are African American, even though African Americans make up approximately 13% of the population. To build wealth in African American communities, we must invest in the success of African American businesses and entrepreneurs.  
 
Ensuring equal access to credit and capital. African American businesses often lack the capital they need to succeed. African American businesses are rejected at a rate nearly 20% higher than the white-owned firms. Even worse, African American businesses that do get funding receive only 40% of the funds requested as compared to 70% for white businesses. To increase investment and access to capital, Biden will:

Double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative. The Obama-Biden Administration created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support small businesses, driving $10 billion in new lending for each $1 billion in SSBCI funds. Biden will extend the program through 2025 and double its federal funding to $3 billion, driving close to $30 billion of private sector investments to small businesses all told, especially those owned by women and people of color.

Expand the New Markets Tax Credit, make the program permanent, and double Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) funding. The New Markets Tax Credit has helped draw tens of billions of dollars in new capital to low-income communities, providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants.  As part of his plan to reinvest in communities across the country, including in rural areas, Biden will also double funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, which supports local, mission-driven financial institutions in low-income areas around the U.S. This builds on Biden’s proposal to support entrepreneurs in small towns and rural areas by expanding both the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program and the number of Rural Business Investment Companies, to help rural businesses attract capital.

Improve and expand the Small Business Administration programs that most effectively support African American-owned businesses. The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) programs have been and remain one of the most effective ways of accessing capital for African American-owned businesses. Biden will strengthen these existing programs by:

Ensuring the SBA has the funding it needs to support African American-owned business and others in the current crisis and beyond. Trump has once again proposed a massive cut of 25% in the SBA budget for FY2021, including a 35% cut in funding to Small Business Development Centers, a 20% cut to the SBA Microloan Program, and significantly increased fees for the 7(a) loan program, which is SBA’s main loan program for small businesses.

Making permanent the successful Community Advantage loan program, originally created during the Obama-Biden Administration. The program, which provides capital for startups and growing small businesses located in particularly underserved communities through CDFIs and other mission-driven lenders, has been run as a pilot program since 2011. Biden will make this program permanent and reverse rules enacted by the Trump Administration that are making it more difficult for lenders to participate in the program and lend to African American-owned businesses and other businesses located in underserved communities.

Increase opportunities for African American-owned businesses to obtain or participate in federal contracts. In the aftermath of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, well over $100 billion of federal prime contracting dollars were awarded to minority-owned small businesses. And, between 2013 and 2016, the Obama-Biden Administration increased federal prime contract dollars going to Small Disadvantaged Businesses by nearly 30%, from $30.6 billion to $39.1 billion. The Obama-Biden Administration also created an Interagency Task Force on Federal Contracting Opportunities for Small Businesses, which included a focus on contracting opportunities for minority-owned businesses. The Obama-Biden Administration implemented its vision of more equitable access to federal contracts through a variety of channels, including by launching the Federal Procurement Center (FPC) as part of the Commerce Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The FPC, a first-of-its-kind program, helps minority-owned firms apply for and win federal government contracts. As President, Biden will build on these efforts to support the expansion of opportunities for minority-owned small businesses. 
 
Increase funding for the Minority Business Development Agency budget. MBDA plays a critical role in supporting the development and growth of minority-owned businesses around the country, as well as providing needed assistance to federal and state agencies so that they award minority-owned businesses procurement contracts. The Trump Administration has pushed for a 75% cut in MBDA’s budget. Biden would protect and call for increased funding for it.
 
Protect small and disadvantaged businesses from federal and state contract bundling which often locks out African American-owned smaller firms from effectively bidding on procurement contracts. Biden will build on the anti-bundling provisions of the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, by having the Office of Management and Budget, SBA, and MBDA conduct a government-wide review of existing contract bundling to determine whether agencies are following existing rules and whether agencies have the ability to further ensure small business participation in federal and state procurement opportunities.
 
Make sure economic relief because of COVID-19 reaches the African American businesses that need it most. The first installment of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) largely left out minority-owned businesses. The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that more than 90% of small businesses owned by people of color will not receive loans. The program is not taking into account the specific challenges that African American businesses face in accessing funding and complying with the program’s requirements. The financial institutions best positioned to help African American small businesses don’t have the systems to quickly deploy the funding in a first-come first-served approach. The second phase set aside $60 billion for community banks and CDFIs, as well as mid-sized banks, which can better serve smaller businesses and minority-owned firms. This is a good start, but more needs to be done:

Provide AfricanAmerican entrepreneurs and other small business owners technical assistance to help them apply for funding, as well as legal and accounting support to ensure their documentation (such as their financial records, tax filings, and other legal documents) is all in correct order. The Trump Administration and Congress should provide an additional infusion of operating capital to these CDFIs and community-focused lenders to ensure all African American entrepreneurs have access to the technical assistance and support they need.

Reserve half of all the new PPP funds for small businesses with 50 employees or less, so the bigger and more well-connected aren’t able to win in a first-come, first-served race. While this will help the vast majority of small businesses, it should also help target more funding to minority-owned businesses, given 98% of all minority-and women-owned businesses have fewer than 50 employees. 

Produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans. Such a dashboard would help drive better data collection on the beneficiaries of small business support related to the COVID-19 epidemic, including in particular collecting data by gender and race, in order to ensure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses.

SUPPORTING AFRICAN AMERICAN CHURCHES DURING THE COVID-19 CRISIS

Shelter-in-place orders, while critical to protecting the health of parishioners, have hit churches hard as collection revenue has virtually stopped. African American churches are especially at-risk during the downturn. One survey put the typical African American membership at just 75 congregants, while others have noted that annual revenue is down since much of it is typically collected during Easter season. At a time when many Americans will seek spiritual assistance and social support, we must ensure the preservation of religious institutions. The decision by Congress to include non-profits, including religious institutions, in the Paycheck Protection Program and Emergency Injury Disaster Loan programs was a critical first step. But the support has not flowed to these institutions the way it should. Well-connected companies were first in line for the support funding.
 
Biden’s True Small Business Fund would also apply to non-profit groups like African American churches.

 
Expand African American Homeownership and Access to Affordable, Safe Housing 
 
The gap between African American and white homeownership is larger today than when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968. This has contributed to a jaw-dropping racial wealth gap—nearly 1,000%—between median white and African American households. Because home ownership is how most families save and build wealth, the disparity in home ownership is a central driver of the racial wealth gap. As President, Biden will invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs. Biden will:
 
Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000. Building off of a temporary tax credit expanded as part of the Recovery Act, this tax credit will be permanent and advanceable, meaning that homebuyers receive the tax credit when they make the purchase instead of waiting to receive the assistance when they file taxes the following year.

Tackle racial bias that leads to homes in communities of color being assessed by appraisers below their fair value. Housing in communities primarily comprised of people of color is valued at tens of thousands of dollars below majority-white communities even when all other factors are the same, contributing to the racial wealth gap. To counteract this racial bias, Biden will establish a national standard for housing appraisals that ensures appraisers have adequate training and a full appreciation for neighborhoods and do not hold implicit biases because of a lack of community understanding. 
 
Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections, strongly enforce fair credit reporting laws, and create a new Public Credit Reporting Agency. Being able to obtain a credit report is a critical step for homeownership. Biden has long been an advocate for eliminating discrimination in the provision of credit, including his legislation amending the Equal Credit Opportunity Act which prohibited creditors from discriminating against consumer applicants for credit. Today’s credit reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are rife with problems: they often contain errors, they leave many credit invisible due to the sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparitieswidening the African American homeownership gap, Biden will create a new public credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact, and by accepting non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to establish credit.
 
Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights. This new Bill of Rights will prevent mortgage brokers from leading borrowers into loans that cost more than appropriate, prevent mortgage servicers from advancing a foreclosure when the homeowner is in the process of receiving a loan modification, give homeowners a private right of action to seek financial redress from mortgage lenders and servicers that violate these protections, and give borrowers the right to a timely notification on the status of their loan modifications and to be able to appeal modification denials.
 
Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. 

Give local elected officials the tools and resources they need to combat gentrification. Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule in 2018. Biden will ensure effective and rigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, he will reinstate the federal risk-sharing program which has helped secure financing for thousands of affordable rental housing units in partnership with housing finance agencies.   

Hold financial institutions accountable for discriminatory practices in the housing market. In 2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a discriminatory effect can be challenged even if discrimination was not explicit. But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all customers.

Restore the federal government’s power to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders. The Trump Administration has stripped the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, a division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of its power to enforce settlements against lenders found to have discriminated against borrowers – for example by charging significantly higher interest rates for people of color than white individuals. Biden will return power to the division so it can protect consumers from discrimination.

Strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities. The Community Reinvestment Act currently regulates banks, but does little to ensure that “fintechs” and non-bank lenders are providing responsible access to all members of the community. On top of that gap, the Trump Administration is proposing to weaken the law by allowing lenders to receive a passing rating even if the lenders are excluding many neighborhoods and borrowers. Biden will expand the Community Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, to add a requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, to close loopholes that would allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in all of the communities they serve. 
 
Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of certain communities. As President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker. Biden will also invest $300 million in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that contribute to sprawl. 
 
Increase access to affordable housing. Biden will invest in expanding the supply of affordable housing by:

Establishing a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing. He will ensure funding supports community development efforts, expanding the HOME program and the Capital Magnet Fund, which spurs private investment in affordable housing and economic development in distressed communities.

Providing tax incentives for the construction of more affordable housing in communities that need it most. As President, Biden will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit – a tax provision designed to incentivize the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income tenants that has created nearly 3 million affordable housing units since the mid-1980s – with a $10 billion investment. Biden will also invest in the development and rehabilitation of single family homes across distressed urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act

Protect homeowners during the COVID-19 crisis. Biden has previously called for a rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis, and a halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get back on their feet. Some banks are raising mortgage borrowing standards and requiring significantly higher down payments. Biden would also restrict the big banks’ ability to abandon the African American community by withdrawing from housing markets for all but the best-off buyers.
 
Read Joe Biden’s full housing plan at joebiden.com/housing.
 
Promote More Equitable Wealth Building and a More Secure Retirement
 
The typical white family holds approximately ten times the wealth as the typical African Americans family—a disparity that dramatically increased over the past half century. Today, the typical wealth of a white family is $171,000, compared to just $17,600 for the typical African American family. This inequity means that many African American families have insufficient wealth to enjoy a secure retirement. In fact, in 2016, the average African American family had just $25,000 saved for retirement—due in part to a retirement saving system that affords limited incentives for middle-class African American families to save for retirement. To make the U.S. retirement system more secure and equitable, Biden will:
 
Equalize the tax benefits of defined contribution plans. The current tax benefits for retirement savings are based on the concept of deferral, whereby savers get to exclude their retirement contributions from tax, see their savings grow tax free, and then pay taxes when they withdraw money from their account. This system provides upper-income families with a much stronger tax break for saving and a limited benefit for middle-class and other workers with lower earnings.
The Biden Plan will equalize benefits across the income scale, so that low- and middle-income workers will also get a tax break when they put money away for retirement. 
 
Remove penalties for caregivers who want to save for retirement. African Americans are more likely to be caregivers than whites. They also bear disproportionate caregiving responsibilities relative to white caregivers. Biden will support informal caregivers by allowing them to make “catch-up” contributions to retirement accounts, even if they’re not earning income in the formal labor market, as has been proposed in bipartisan legislation by Representatives Jackie Walorski and Harley Rouda.
 
Give small businesses a tax break for starting a retirement plan and giving workers the chance to save at work. Half of African American workers lack access to a retirement saving plan at work. Biden calls for widespread adoption of workplace savings plans and offers tax credits to small businesses to offset much of the costs. Under Biden’s plan, almost all workers without a pension or 401(k)-type plan will have access to an “automatic 401(k),” which provides the opportunity to easily save for retirement at work—putting millions of middle-class families in the path to a secure retirement.
 
Make Social Security benefits more generous and equitable. Older African Americans disproportionately depend on Social Security benefits for retirement income. To bolster retirement security for older African Americans who have spent a lifetime working, the Biden Social Security reform plan will raise benefits for vulnerable beneficiaries—including widows and widowers, low-wage workers, and long duration beneficiaries who may have exhausted all other assets. In addition, Biden proposes to boost average benefits across the board while putting Social Security on a long-term path to solvency by raising payroll taxes for workers with more than $400,000 in earnings.
 
Invest in Communities that Need it Most

Fully implement Congressman Clyburn’s 10-20-30 Plan to help all individuals living in persistently impoverished communities. To tackle persistent poverty in all communities, in both urban and rural America, Vice President Biden supports applying Congressman James Clyburn’s 10-20-30 formula to all federal programs, targeting funds to census tracts with persistent poverty.
 
Create a White House “StrikeForce” to partner with rural communities to help them access federal funds. The Biden Administration will create a White House StrikeForce consisting of agency leaders who will partner with community-building organizations in persistent poverty rural communities and help them unlock federal resources. This approach is modeled on the StrikeForce Secretary Tom Vilsack successfully established in the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the Obama-Biden Administration.
 
Drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of low-income housing. The New Markets Tax Credit draws in $8 of private investment for every $1 of federal investment in low-income communities by providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants. Biden will expand the program to provide $5 billion in support every year, and will make the program permanent so communities can take the credit into account in their long-term planning.
 
Build and modernize infrastructure in communities that need it most. Biden has offered a transformational $1.3 trillion plan to create millions of good-paying, union jobs—roads, ports, waterways, schools, broadband, schools, and more. His plan includes specific measures to close the resource gap in communities of color. Biden will:

Invest in historically marginalized communities and bring everyone to the table for transportation planning. Biden will create a new Community Restoration Fund, specifically for neighborhoods where historic transportation investments cut people off from jobs, schools, and businesses. And, he will work to make sure towns and cities directly receive a portion of existing federal transportation investments.

Bring broadband to every American household. As President, Biden will close the digital divide. First, he will invest $20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure. He will triple funding to expand broadband access in rural areas, and ensure that the work of installing broadband provides high-paying jobs with benefits. He will encourage competition among providers, to increase speeds and decrease prices in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Biden will also work with the FCC to reform its Lifeline program, increasing the number of participating broadband providers, reducing fraud and abuse, and ultimately offering more low-income Americans the subsidies needed to access high-speed internet. Finally, Biden will work with Congress to pass the Digital Equity Act, to help communities tackle the digital divide. 

Read Joe Biden’s full plan to invest in infrastructure and our communities at joebiden.com/infrastructure, and his full plan for older Americans at joebiden.com/older-Americans.
 
Support African American Workers
 
Biden is proposing a plan to grow a stronger, more inclusive middle class—the backbone of the American economy—by strengthening public and private sector unions and helping all workers bargain successfully for what they deserve. Biden knows that African Americans face unique challenges as workers. Biden will support these workers by:
 
Fight for equal pay. African American women earned 61 cents for every dollar earned by white men in 2017. This totals $23,653 less in earnings in a year and $946,120 less in a lifetime. The Obama-Biden Administration protected more workers against retaliation for discussing wages and required employers to collect and report wage gaps to the federal government. As President, Biden will codify this into law, and he’ll make it easier for workers to join together in class action lawsuits, shift the burden to employers to prove pay gaps exist for job-related reasons, and increase penalties against companies that discriminate, as called for in the Paycheck Fairness Act. And, he’ll hold companies accountable by increasing funding for investigators and enforcement actions.
 
Ensure federally funded projects protect workers. Biden will propose infrastructure legislation that incorporates labor provisions contained in Senator Merkley’s Good Jobs for 21st Century Energy Act, adopting all basic labor protections, ensuring that all investments meet Davis-Bacon wage guidelines, and banning anti-worker provisions like forced arbitration and the overuse of temporary staffing agencies. He will require federally funded projects to employ workers trained in registered apprenticeship programs, and to prioritize Project Labor and Community Workforce Agreements in federal procurement procedures. His proposal will make sure that national infrastructure investments create millions of middle-class jobs, benefiting union and non-union workers across industries. Read Joe Biden’s full plan to encourage unions and collective bargaining at joebiden.com/empowerworkers.
 
Encourage diverse hiring and promotion practices. To push companies to look hard at their hiring practices and root out discrimination, Biden will require companies to make public their overall workforce diversity and senior-level diversity. He will support employers in increasing diverse hiring and promotion by providing federal grants to states, cities, and organizations to develop and implement evidence-based practices and innovative solutions, such as ban the box legislation, to push employers to hire and retain diverse employees and end discriminatory hiring policies. And, he will hold companies accountable by increasing funding for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to increase the number of investigators.
 
Restore the federal government’s role in setting the bar for other employers to advance opportunities for all workers. Biden will restore and build on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces executive order, which Trump revoked, requiring employers’ compliance with labor and employment laws be taken into account in determining whether they are sufficiently responsible to be entrusted with federal contracts. And, he will mandate that contractors publicly disclose plans to recruit and advance people of color, women, people with disabilities, and covered veterans and will increase enforcement efforts, including pursuing debarment where contractors refuse to end discriminatory practices.
 
Protect essential workers in the COVID-19 crisis. A report published in April found that “Black Americans are overrepresented in nine of the ten lowest-paid, high-contact essential services, which elevates their risk of contracting the virus.” Joe Biden has released a plan to protect these essential workers, and give them the respect, dignity, and pay they deserve.  If he were President, he would:

Ensure all frontline workers, like grocery store employees, qualify for priority access to personnel protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 testing based upon their risk of exposure to the virus, as well as child care assistance, and other forms of emergency COVID-19 support.

Expand access to effective personal protective equipment, including through use of the Defense Production Act. 

Establish and enforce health and safety standards for workplaces.

Enact premium pay for frontline workers putting themselves at risk. There is no substitute for ensuring worker safety, but all frontline workers putting their lives on the line should receive premium pay for their work. This premium pay should be in addition to paid sick leave and care-giving leave for every worker, which Biden called for in his plan, and $15 minimum wage for all workers. 

Turn unemployment insurance into employment insurance. African American workers are more likely to work in jobs subject to reduced hours, furloughs, and layoffs during the pandemic. Biden would transform unemployment insurance into employment insurance for millions of workers by getting states to adopt and dramatically scale up short-time compensation programs. Under short-time compensation—also known as work sharing—firms in distress keep workers employed but at reduced hours and the federal government helps make up the difference in wages. The Obama-Biden administration championed this approach in the U.S., and so far more than half of states have established short-time compensation programs. For the current crisis, the administration should move rapidly to scale up short-time compensation in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to save or restore millions of jobs.
 
EXPAND ACCESS TO HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATION AND TACKLE RACIAL INEQUITY IN OUR EDUCATION SYSTEM
 
As President, Biden will ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability. Biden will build an education system that starts with investing in our children at birth and helps every student get some education beyond a high school diploma, whether a certification, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. Biden will:
 
Provide high-quality, universal pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds. For families with young children, finding highly quality pre-K is a major financial, logistical, and emotional burden, with potentially lifelong consequences for their children. As President, Biden will work with states to offer pre-K for all three- and four-year-olds.
 
Eliminate the funding gap between white and non-white districts, and rich and poor districts in order to give teachers a raise and expand STEM curriculum in underserved school districts. There’s an estimated $23 billion annual funding gap between white and non-white school districts today. Biden will work to close this gap by nearly tripling Title I funding, the federal program funding schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families. This new funding will first be used to ensure teachers at Title I schools are paid competitively, three- and four-year olds have access to pre-school, and districts provide access to rigorous coursework—including computer science and other STEM subjects—across all their schools, not just a few.
 
Improve teacher diversity. For African American students, having just one African American teacher in elementary school reduces the probability of dropping out. Biden will support more innovative approaches to recruiting teachers of color, including supporting high school students in accessing dual-enrollment classes that give them an edge in teacher preparation programs, helping paraprofessionals work towards their teaching certificate, and working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions to recruit and prepare teachers.
 
Reinstate the Obama-Biden Administration’s actions to diversify our schoolsAs President, Biden will reinstate the Department of Education guidance that supported schools in legally pursuing desegregation strategies and recognized institutions of higher education’s interests in creating diverse student bodies. And, he will provide grants to school districts to create plans and implement strategies to diversify their schools.
 
Ensure that African American students are not inappropriately identified as having disabilities, while also ensuring that African American students with disabilities have the support to succeed. African American students are 40% more likely to be identified as having any disability, and twice as likely to be identified as having certain disabilities, such as emotional disturbance and intellectual disabilities. The Obama-Biden Administration issued regulations to address racial disparities in special education programs, including disproportionate identification. The Trump Administration attempted to illegally delay the Obama-Biden Administration’s regulation. Biden will fully implement this regulation and provide educators the resources that they need to provide students with disabilities a high-quality education by fully funding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 
 
Address the African American student debt crisis. The student debt burden has a disproportionate impact on African Americans. The typical bachelor’s degree graduate has about $16,000 in debt compared to $23,400 for African Americans students. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, African Americans graduating with a four year degree are 5 times more likely to default on their student loans than white graduates. African American students are three times more likely to default on their student loans than white student borrowers. The inequitable burden of student loan debt contributes to the stark racial wealth gap that exists in society. Biden’s plans to address student loan debt will alleviate student debt burdens by:

Including in the COVID-19 response an immediate cancellation of a minimum of $10,000 of federal student loan debt.

Forgiving all undergraduate tuition-related federal student debt from two- and four-year public colleges for debt-holders earning up to $125,000. This will also apply to individuals holding federal student loans for tuition from private HBCUs and MSIs.

Forgiving loan payments for individuals making $25,000 or less per year and capping loan payments at 5% of discretionary income for those making more.

Fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program and forgiving $10,000 of undergraduate or graduate student debt for every year of national or community service, up to five years.

Cracking down on private lenders profiteering off of students by empowering the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to take action against private lenders who are misleading students about their options and do not provide an affordable payment plan when individuals are experiencing acute periods of financial hardship.

Permitting the discharge of student loans in bankruptcy.

Increase college completion by making college affordable for African American students. Our postsecondary education system has not done enough to help African American students access, afford, and succeed in high-quality postsecondary education. 64% of white students graduate from four year institutions, compared to only 40% of African Americans. To help African American students access and complete college, Biden will:

Make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all students whose family incomes are below $125,000, including students at public HBCUs. 

Providing two years of community college or other high-quality training programs without debt for any hard-working individual looking to learn and improve their skills to keep up with the changing nature of work. This commitment includes two-year public HBCUs. Individuals will also be able to use these funds to pursue training programs that have a track record of participants completing their programs and securing good jobs, including adults who never had the chance to pursue additional education beyond high school or who need to learn new skills.

Targeting additional financial support to low-income and middle-class individuals by doubling the maximum value of Pell grants, significantly increasing the number of middle-class Americans who can participate in the program. According to the Department of Education, almost 60% of African American undergraduates received a Pell grant during the 2015-2016 academic year. Biden also will restore formerly incarcerated individuals’ eligibility for Pell.

Invest over $70 billion in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions that will train our next generation of African American professionals. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are key to educating our next generations of African American leaders. They enroll about 10% of African American students, while accounting for more than 20% of African American bachelor’s degrees awarded. 40% of African American engineers and 80% of African American judges are HBCU graduates. But these institutions do not receive the investment that reflects their importance. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund estimates that the typical HBCU endowment is one-eighth the average size of historically white colleges. As President, Biden will take steps to rectify the funding disparities faced by HBCUs so that the United States can benefit from their unique strengths. Biden will:

Make HBCUs more affordable for their students. Biden will invest $18 billion in grants to four-year HBCUs and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), equivalent to up to two years of tuition per low-income and middle class student. He will invest additional funds in private, non-profit HBCUs and under-resourced MSIs so they are not undermined by the Biden proposal to make four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free for students. Schools must invest in lowering costs, improving retention and graduation rates, and closing equity gaps year over year for students of color.

Reduce disparities in funding for HBCUs and MSIs.

Invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future – including fields tackling climate change, globalization, inequality, health disparities, and cancer – to learning and career opportunities.

Build the high tech labs and facilities and digital infrastructure needed for learning, research, and innovation at HBCUs and MSIs.

Invest $5 billion in graduate programs in teaching, health care, and STEM and will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies.

Create a “Title I for postsecondary education” to help students at under-resourced four-year schools complete their degrees. The Biden Administration will establish a new grant program to support under-resourced four-year schools that serve large numbers of Pell-eligible students. The funds will be used to foster collaboration between colleges and community-based organizations to provide wraparound support services for students, including additional financial aid to cover textbook and transportation costs that often keep students from staying enrolled, to child care and mental health services, faculty mentoring, tutoring, and peer support groups.

Make a $50 billion investment in workforce training, including community-college business partnerships and apprenticeships. These funds will create and support partnerships between community colleges, businesses, unions, state, local, and tribal governments, universities, and high schools to identify in-demand knowledge and skills in a community and develop or modernize training programs – which could be as short as a few months or as long as two years – that lead to a relevant, high-demand industry-recognized credential.
 
Read Joe Biden’s full education plans at joebiden.com/education and joebiden.com/beyondHS.

MAKE FAR-REACHING INVESTMENTS IN ENDING HEALTH DISPARITIES BY RACE
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the long-standing, pervasive disparities that exist across our health care system due to unequal access to treatment. An early analysis indicates that counties with majority-African American populations have coronavirus infection rates three times higher than counties with majority white residents, with death rates nearly six times higher. Although COVID-19 can hit anyone anywhere, it does not affect every community the same. African Americans are more likely to be uninsured and report higher rates of chronic health problems, and these factors increase their chances of becoming seriously ill and dying from this disease. This is unconscionable. Biden calls on Congress to immediately enact Senator Kamala Harris’ bill to create a task force to address the racial disparities that have been laid bare by this pandemic. As President, he will do everything in his power to eliminate health care disparities.
 
Ensuring access to health care during this crisis. In the short-term, Biden’s COVID-19 response plan calls on the Trump Administration to drop its support of a lawsuit to overturn Obamacare. Millions of Americans may lose their health insurance because they lose their job, and millions more may find health care increasingly difficult to afford. During this crisis, Biden would expand access to quality, affordable health care for all through:

Creating a public option;

Providing full payment of premiums for COBRA plans;

Increasing Affordable Care Act subsidies;

Reopening Obamacare enrollment so uninsured individuals can get insured;

Increasing federal investments in Medicaid;

Ensuring that every person, whether insured or uninsured, will not have to pay a dollar out-of-pocket for visits related to COVID-19 testing, treatment, preventative services, and any eventual vaccine. No co-payments, no deductibles, and no surprise medical billing.

Ensure access to affordable, high-quality health care beyond the crisis. Because of Obamacare, over 100 million people no longer have to worry that an insurance company will deny coverage or charge higher premiums just because they have a pre-existing condition – whether cancer or diabetes or heart disease or a mental health challenge. Insurance companies can no longer set annual or lifetime limits on coverage. Roughly 20 million additional Americans obtained the peace of mind that comes with health insurance. Young people who are in transition from school to a job have the option to stay covered by their parents’ plan until age 26. As President, Joe Biden will build on Obamacare. He will help address racial disparities in the health care system in the following ways:

Reducing the uninsured rate for African Americans by creating a public option health planNationally, 11% of nonelderly African Americans are uninsured, compared to 8% of white people. This disparity is far greater in states with Republican governors who have not expanded Medicaid. Biden will give all Americans a new choice, a public health insurance option like Medicare. And he will ensure the individuals who would be eligible for Medicaid but for their state’s inaction are automatically enrolled on to the public option, at no cost to the individual.

Improving care for patients with chronic conditions, by coordinating among all of a patient’s doctors. This is particularly important for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, which disproportionately impact African Americans.

Lowering costs for African Americans enrolled in Obamacare plans by increasing the value of tax credits to lower premium and lowering deductibles by making other changes to how the tax credits are calculated.

Lowering drug prices, by allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug prices and stopping drug companies from price gouging on new drugs.

Reducing our unacceptably high African American maternal mortality rate. African American women are 2.5 times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women. California came up with a strategy that halved the state’s maternal death rate. The Biden plan takes the California strategy nationwide.

Expanding access to reproductive health care, including contraception and protecting the constitutional right to choose. Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment. He will also restore funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides services necessary to address health disparities, including breast cancer screenings and HIV/AIDS counseling, screening, and treatment. The breast cancer death rate is over 40% higher for African Americans than white women, and in 2016, African American women comprised 60% of new HIV cases.

Doubling the nation’s investment in community health centers. Community health centers provide primary, prenatal, and other important care, and their patients are disproportionately members of racial and ethnic minority groups, including African Americans.

Expanding access to mental health care. African Americans are far less likely to receive mental health services or compared to white adults.  Biden will ensure mental health parity and eliminating the stigma around mental health are critical to closing this gap.

Tackling social determinants of health. Because racial health disparities are the result of years of systemic inequality not only in our health care system, but across our economy, other parts of Joe Biden’s agenda are also necessary to improve the overall well-being of African Americans. For example, African Americans are more likely to face exposure to air pollutants that cause respiratory illnesses that make them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Invest in the diverse talent at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to solve the country’s most pressing problems, including health disparities. As part of Biden’s more than $70 billion investment in HBCUs and MSIs, he will invest $10 billion to create at least 200 new centers of excellence that serve as research incubators and connect students underrepresented in fields critical to our nation’s future to learning and career opportunities. He will develop robust internship and career pipelines at major research agencies, including National Institutes of Health. He will also dedicate additional and increased priority funding streams at federal agencies for grants and contracts for HBCUs and MSIs. And, he will require any federal research grants to universities with an endowment of over $1 billion to form a meaningful partnership and enter into a 10% minimum subcontract with an HBCU, TCU, or MSI.
 
Build a diverse pipeline of health care professionals by investing in health care graduate programs at HBCUs and MSIs. As part of Biden’s more than $70 billion investment in HBCUs and MSis, he will invest $5 billion in graduate programs in health care, along with teaching and STEM, at HBCUs and MSIs.
 
Read Joe Biden’s full health care plan at joebiden.com/healthcare.
 
STRENGTHEN AMERICA’S COMMITMENT TO JUSTICE
 
Today, too many people are incarcerated in the United States – and too many of them are African American. To build safe and healthy communities, we need to rethink who we’re sending to prison, how we treat those in prison, and how we help them get the health care, education, jobs, and housing they need to successfully rejoin society after they serve their time. As President, Biden will strengthen America’s commitment to justice and reform our criminal justice system.
 
The Biden Plan for Strengthening America’s Commitment to Justice is based on several core principles:

We can and must reduce the number of people incarcerated in this country while also reducing crime. Reducing the number of incarcerated individuals will reduce federal spending on incarceration. These savings should be reinvested in the communities impacted by mass incarceration.

Our criminal justice system cannot be just unless we root out the racial, gender, and income-based disparities in the system. African American mothers and fathers should feel confident that their children are safe walking the streets of America. And, when a police officer pins on that shield and walks out the door, the officer’s family should know they’ll come home at the end of the day. Additionally, women and children are uniquely impacted by the criminal justice system, and the system needs to address their unique needs.

Our criminal justice system must be focused on redemption and rehabilitation. Making sure formerly incarcerated individuals have the opportunity to be productive members of our society is not only the right thing to do, it will also grow our economy.

No one should be profiteering off of our criminal justice system.

Biden will call for the immediate passage of Congressman Bobby Scott’s SAFE Justice Act, an evidence-based, comprehensive bill to reform our criminal justice system “from front-end sentencing reform to back-end release policies.” The Biden Plan will also go further. Biden will take bold action to reduce our prison population, create a more just society, and make our communities safer. He will:
 
Expand and use the power of the U.S. Justice Department to address systemic misconduct in police departments and prosecutors’ offices. Using authority in legislation spearheaded by Biden as senator, the Obama-Biden Justice Department used pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees to address circumstances of “systemic police misconduct” and to “restore trust between police and communities” in cities such as Ferguson. Yet, the Trump Administration’s Justice Department has limited the use of this tool. Under the Biden Administration, the Justice Department will again use its authority to root out unconstitutional or unlawful policing. In addition, Biden will push for legislation to clarify that this pattern-or-practice investigation authority can also be used to address systemic misconduct by prosecutors’ offices.
 
Establish an independent Task Force on Prosecutorial Discretion. The Biden Administration will create a new task force, placed outside of the U.S. Department of Justice, to make recommendations for tackling discrimination and other problems in our justice system that results from arrest and charging decisions.
 
Reinvigorate community-oriented policing. Policing works best when officers are out of their cruisers and walking the streets, engaging with and getting to know members of their communities. But in order to do that, police departments need resources to hire a sufficient number of officers. Biden spearheaded the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, which authorized funding both for the hiring of additional police officers and for training on how to undertake a community policing approach. However, the program has never been funded to fulfill the original vision for community policing. Biden will reinvigorate the COPS program with a $300 million investment. As a condition of the grant, hiring of police officers must mirror the racial diversity of the community they serve. Additionally, as President, Biden will establish a panel to scrutinize what equipment is used by law enforcement in our communities.
 
Invest in public defenders’ offices to ensure defendants’ access to quality counsel. Defenders’ resources and support are too decentralized and too hard to access. Biden will expand the Obama-Biden effort to expand resources for public defenders’ offices.
 
Create a $20 billion grant program to support criminal justice reform at the state and local level. Funds can be used by cities and states on measures proven to reduce crime and incarceration, and require states to eliminate mandatory minimums for non-violent crimes in order to receive funding.
 
Reform sentencing. Biden will work with Congress to reform federal sentencing and provide incentives to state and local systems to do the same. He will end, once and for all, the federal crack and powder cocaine disparity, decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions, and end all incarceration for drug use alone and instead divert individuals to drug courts and treatment. He will work to eliminate mandatory minimums and the death penalty.
 
End the criminalization of poverty. Cash bail is the modern-day debtors’ prison. Biden will lead a national effort to end cash bail and reform our pretrial system by putting in place, instead, a system that is fair and does not inject further discrimination or bias into the process. And, he will work to end the practice of jailing people for being too poor to pay fines and fees.
 
Stop corporations from profiteering off of incarceration. Biden will end the federal government’s use of private prisons, building off an Obama-Biden Administration’s policy rescinded by the Trump Administration. And, he will make clear that the federal government should not use private facilities for any detention, including detention of undocumented immigrants.
 
Eliminate existing barriers preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from fully participating in society. For example, Biden will eliminate barriers keeping formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public assistance such as SNAP, Pell grants, and housing support. The Biden Administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences. He will also expand access to mental health and substance use disorder treatment, as well as educational opportunities and job training for individuals during and after incarceration. 
 
Reform the juvenile justice system. Biden will invest $1 billion per year in juvenile justice reform. He will expand funding for after-school programs, community centers, and summer jobs to keep young people active, busy, learning, and having fun. Biden will double the number of mental health professionals in our schools so behavioral and emotional challenges can be addressed by appropriately skilled psychologists, counselors, and social workers, not our criminal justice system. And, he will restore the Obama-Biden Administration guidance to help schools address the high number of suspensions and expulsions that affect students of color at a higher rate than white students.
 
Make our communities safer. Biden will pursue evidence-based measures to root out persistent violent crime. Violent offenders need to be held accountable, and survivors need to have access to support to deal with the physical, psychological, and financial consequences of violence. Biden will tackle the rise in hate crimes through moral leadership that makes clear such vitriol has no place in the United States. And, in the Biden Administration, the Justice Department will prioritize prosecuting hate crimes. Additionally, Biden will address the daily acts of gun violence in our communities that may not make national headlines, but are just as devastating to survivors and victims’ families as gun violence that does make the front page. These daily acts of gun violence disproportionately impact communities of color. Biden will create a $900 million, eight-year initiative to fund evidence-based interventions in 40 cities across the country – the 20 cities with the highest number of homicides, and 20 cities with the highest number of homicides per capita. This proposal is estimated to save more than 12,000 lives over the eight-year program.
 
Read Joe Biden’s full criminal justice plan at joebiden.com/justice and his plan to reduce gun violence at joebiden.com/gunsafety.
 
MAKE THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND THE RIGHT TO EQUAL PROTECTION REAL FOR AFRICAN AMERICANS
 
President Trump has rolled back civil rights enforcement across the government and cut staff for the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  In the first two years of the Trump Administration, the Division started 60% fewer investigations than during the Obama-Biden Administration. As President, Biden will reverse the damage done by Trump and increase funding for civil rights enforcement. He will ensure that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the EEOC, and agency civil rights enforcement offices have the resources they need to root out and stop discrimination. He will also:
 
Ensure that political appointees, including the President’s Cabinet, look like the country they serve, and ensure that our federal workforce is representative of the demographics in our country. The Obama-Biden Administration made great progress in building a diverse federal workforce, but Biden knows work remains for the country to fully realize the benefits of the talents, abilities, and perspectives of a workforce that looks like the country. As President, Biden will nominate and appoint people who look like the country they serve and share Biden’s commitment to rigorous enforcement of civil rights protections. He will reissue and mandate strict compliance with the Obama-Biden executive order to promote diversity and inclusion. He will rebuild the pipeline of workers into the federal government and incentivize more qualified workers to choose public service by forgiving $10,000 a year in student debt for up to five years of public service. He’ll tap into the best and brightest talent from every source by developing career pipelines from Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions into federal agencies. Biden will also provide more training and mentoring opportunities to improve retention, and collect better data about who is applying for federal service positions as well as being promoted.
 
Appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges who look like America, are committed to the rule of law, understand the importance of individual civil rights and civil liberties in a democratic society, and respect foundational precedents like Brown vs. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade. Biden has also pledged to appoint the first African American woman to the U.S. Supreme Court, a move which is long overdue. We can’t have four more years of Trump appointees filling lifetime judiciary seats. Trump has already appointed 193 federal judges – including two Supreme Court justices. Only eight are African American. Three Trump appointees were rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.
 
Ensure every vote counts. Since the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, an increasing number of states have passed laws with no apparent purpose besides making it more difficult to vote, especially for people of color. It’s just as un-American now as it was during Jim Crow. As President, Biden will strengthen our democracy by guaranteeing that every American’s vote is protected. He will start by passing the Voting Rights Advancement Act to update section 4 of the Voting Rights Act and develop a new process for pre-clearing election changes. He also will ensure that the Justice Department challenges state laws suppressing the right to vote. Biden supports automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and many more steps to make exercising one’s right to vote easier. Biden will ensure that the Justice Department has the resources and authority to enforce laws that protect our voting rights. Biden believes we need to end gerrymandering and we must protect our voting booths and voter rolls from foreign powers that seek to undermine our democracy and interfere in our elections. And, the Biden Administration will incentivize states to automatically restore voting rights for individuals convicted of felonies once they have served their sentences. 

Combat the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. As a direct response to the high rates of homicide of transgender people—particularly transgender women of color—the Biden Administration will make prosecuting their murderers a priority. And, during his first 100 days in office, Biden will direct federal resources to help prevent violence against transgender women, particularly transgender women of color. Recognizing that employment and housing discrimination lead to increased risk of homelessness and violence, Biden will also work to pass the Equality Act to reduce economic barriers and social stigma and the LGBTQ Essential Data Act to help collect a wide variety of critical data about anti-trans violence and the factors that drive it.

Tackle systemic racism and support a study of the continuing impacts of slavery. We must acknowledge that there can be no realization of the American dream without grappling with the original sin of slavery, and the centuries-long campaign of violence, fear, and trauma wrought upon African American people in this country. As Biden has said in this campaign, a Biden Administration will support a study of reparations. Biden will begin on day one of his Administration to address the systemic racism that persists across our institutions today. That’s why he developed educationclimate change, and health care policies, among others, that will root out this systemic racism and ensure that all Americans have a fair shot at living the American dream.
 
ADDRESS ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
 
Biden knows we cannot turn a blind eye to the way in which environmental burdens and benefits have been and will continue to be distributed unevenly along racial and socioeconomic lines – not just with respect to climate change, but also pollution of our air, water, and land. The evidence of these disproportionate harms is clear. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and the National Pharmaceutical Council, African Americans are almost three times more likely to die from asthma related causes than their white counterparts. People of color are more likely to live in areas most vulnerable to flooding and other climate change-related weather events. They are also less likely to have the funds to prepare for and recover from extreme weather. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, African American and Hispanic residents were twice as likely as non-Hispanic white individuals to report experiencing an income shock and lack of recovery support.
 
As President, Biden will stand up to the abuse of power by polluters who disproportionately harm communities of color and low-income communities. He has asked his campaign to commence a process to more deeply engage with environmental justice leaders and develop additional policies related to environmental justice. The policies, to be announced in the weeks ahead, will build on the proposals he has put forward to date:
 
Reinstate federal protections, rolled back by the Trump Administration, that were designed to protect communities. Biden will make it a priority for all agencies to engage in community-driven approaches to develop solutions for environmental injustices affecting communities of color, low-income, and indigenous communities.
 
Hold polluters accountable. African American children living in poverty are more likely than wealthier white children to live in a community that borders toxic chemical facilities. Extreme weather can increase the health risks of being co-located with these toxic structures. Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has referred the fewest number of criminal anti-pollution cases to the Justice Department in 30 years. Allowing corporations to continue to pollute – affecting the health and safety of both their workers and surrounding communities – without consequences perpetuates an egregious abuse of power. Failure to reduce emissions disproportionately hurts African American and Hispanic residents who experience 37% higher exposure to nitrogen dioxide (a toxic pollutant) compared to non-Hispanic whites. This leads to an increased rate of premature death due to heart disease. As President, Biden will direct EPA and the Justice Department to pursue these cases to the fullest extent permitted by law and, when needed, seek additional legislation as needed to hold corporate executives personally accountable – including jail time where merited.
 
Ensure access to safe drinking water for all communities. Biden will make water infrastructure a top priority, for example, by establishing systems to monitor lead and other contaminants in our water supply and take necessary action to eliminate health risks, including holding polluters accountable and support communities in upgrading their systems. In addition, Biden will double federal investments in clean drinking water and water infrastructure, and focus new funding on low-income rural, suburban, and urban areas that are struggling to replace pipes and treatment facilities – and especially on communities at high risk of lead or other kinds of contamination. In addition, Biden will reduce the matching funds required of local governments that don’t have the tax base to be able to afford borrowing to repair their water systems.
 
Monitor for lead and other contaminants and hold polluters accountable. As President, Biden will also require state and local governments to monitor their water systems for lead and other contaminants, and he will provide them with the resources to do so. Biden will also work with the EPA and the Justice Department to hold companies that pollute our waterways accountable, aggressively enforcing existing regulations and prosecuting any violations. Corporations and their executives cannot break the law and expect to get away with it.
 
Prioritize communities harmed by climate change and pollution. Low-income communities and communities of color don’t equally share in the benefits of well-paying job opportunities that result from our clean energy economy. As President, Biden will make sure these communities receive preference in competitive grant programs in the Clean Economy Revolution. In addition, Biden will pursue new partnerships with community colleges, unions, and the private sector to develop programs to train all of America’s workforce to tap into the growing clean energy economy; incorporate skills training into infrastructure investment planning by engaging state and local communities; and reinvigorate and repurpose AmeriCorps for sustainability, so that every American can participate in the clean energy economy. We also know that resiliency investments can raise property values and push lower-income families out of their neighborhoods. Climate change mitigation efforts must consciously protect low-income communities from “green gentrification.”

Biden: Reopening Economy Hinges on Expanding Public Health Infrastructure, Testing

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, offers the starkest contrast possible in terms of leadership and strategy for addressing the most dire crisis the nation has faced in a century. The Biden for President Public Health Advisory Committee on Testing offered a strategy for reopening the economy starting first with public health and expanded testing. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, offers the starkest contrast possible in terms of leadership and strategy for addressing the most dire crisis the nation has faced in a century. Today, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi endorsed Biden saying, “Elections are about the future. Now more than ever, we need a forward-looking, battle-tested leader who will fight For The People: a President with the values, experience and the strategic thinking to bring our nation together and build a better, fairer world for our children. For these and other reasons, I am proud to endorse Joe Biden for President: a leader who is the personification of hope and courage, values, authenticity, and integrity,” the Biden for President Public Health Advisory Committee on Testing offered a strategy for reopening the economy starting first with public health and expanded testing. Here is their statement:

We all agree on the need to reopen the economy and allow some semblance of normalcy as soon as possible. The economic pain and suffering are simply too great to delay unnecessarily. But it is wrong to talk about “choosing” between our public health and our economy. That’s a false choice. If we don’t beat the virus, we will never get back to full economic strength. And the experience of other nations and past pandemics is teaching us that we have to be prepared for a resurgence of cases that could once again stretch the capacity of our health care system and threaten lives.
 
Public health experts agree there are several keys to safely re-opening the economy and rebuilding the confidence of the American people in their government’s ability to protect them. We need to boost the capacity of our health care system and better protect our health care workers by ramping up the production — and ensuring the fair distribution — of critical equipment like masks and other personal protective equipment, as the Biden for President campaign has repeatedly called for. We need to test and trace contacts of people who have been infected with COVID-19. And we need clear guidance, oversight, and resources for workplaces to keep employees as safe as possible. Are those elements in place? What will it take to put them in place?
 
So far, the United States has conducted 5 million COVID-19 tests for our population of 330 million people. In recent days the number of tests has climbed, but no one who has studied the facts thinks this is sufficient. We are still seeing a massive shortfall and extensive disparities between states in testing — that’s unacceptable. And those failures are in no small part due to the federal government mishandling and delaying the pandemic response. We are now several months into this crisis, and this administration refuses to own up to the original sin of its failed response – the failure to test. Failed leadership, bureaucracy, and a lack of urgency have slowed the testing production process and continue to put us behind nations like Italy, Canada, and Germany in terms of per capita testing. Last week, we marked the deaths of 50,000 people from COVID-19 in the United States — each one a life cut tragically short. Our nation is now the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic with more known cases than any other nation in the world.
 
This isn’t rocket science. It just takes investment and execution — both of which have been gravely lacking. Vice President Biden has repeatedly called for President Trump to stand up a Pandemic Testing Board, just as FDR created a War Production Board to massively scale up the production and allocation of equipment and supplies we needed to fight and win World War II. The Board should have members from the public and private sectors — and involve state and local leaders, too. It would oversee a nationwide campaign to provide both diagnostic and antibody tests, which includes surging the production of test kits and lab supplies; coordinating the distribution to every state, tribe, and territory; identifying testing sites and sufficient trained personnel to staff them; ensuring adequate lab capacity and the swift reporting of results; and providing clear guidance on who needs a test. A nationwide campaign has to be well-coordinated and highly agile — able to adjust quickly to accommodate new scientific developments or respond to sudden bottlenecks by evaluating a variety of approaches, from rapid point-of-care tests to in-home sample collection, as Seattle has done.
 
We should better utilize our great university and medical school research laboratories, which spent precious resources equipping their facilities to run COVID-19 tests, yet now sit idle. Let’s harness that capacity to help drastically ramp up our capacity to process these tests
 
And we shouldn’t just test more, we should test smarter. Right now, because of shortages of tests and personnel protective equipment and related challenges, we are still only largely testing the sickest people we suspect have COVID-19, so they can be isolated and cared for. Smart testing would focus on individuals who are at heightened risk, like nursing home residents, as well as those who interact with many people each day, including health care workers, grocery store workers, public safety officials, public transportation employees, and others.
 
Time is not on our side. It is urgent we get these pieces in place and functioning smoothly at full capacity before flu season arrives in the fall, when experts say we could experience a second wave of COVID-19 cases. Testing alone is not enough. We also need Apollo-like moonshots to develop and deploy proven therapeutics and vaccines globally if we are ever to gain the upper hand on this virus. We cannot allow this administration to repeat its failure on testing with therapeutics and vaccines. We must let science — not politicians — lead. We should set the goal of identifying safe, effective therapeutics within 100 days by building on long-standing, proven clinical trial networks — which helped save millions of lives in the fight against AIDS — with a new enduring Emerging Infectious Disease Clinical Trial Network and equipping it with every resource at our disposal. Instead of having different studies competing with each other for resources and patients, this new clinical trial network would bring scientific talent together behind the most promising drugs. And, we should be working now to accelerate a coordinated global approach to develop a safe, effective vaccine and the manufacturing capacity for the doses and related materials like syringes that we will need at home and around the world. The only way to stop COVID-19 here, is to stop it everywhere.
 
In the meantime, however, testing is the springboard we need to help get our economy safely up and running again. Trump could make this happen. He hasn’t. Instead, he’s pushed sole responsibility to governors, while telling them to fly blind without the critical data we derive from testing. If the Biden Administration were in office today, it would have prioritized this testing issue months ago. Since the Trump Administration both can’t and won’t, Congress should step in and establish the Pandemic Testing Board, giving it the authority and funding it needs to succeed.
 
Once we identify COVID-19 infected people, we need to isolate them and identify those to whom they might have unwittingly spread the disease. This is called contact tracing, and our public health professionals do it every day to halt the transmission of infectious diseases already in our midst, including for tuberculosis and measles. To battle a pandemic as large as COVID-19, it will require not just new privacy-protecting technology, but also trained people.
 
Through tough times in our past, generations of Americans have stood up and selflessly answered the call to serve their fellow citizens. We need to harness this spirit of empathy, decency, and unity today and form a new U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps of at least 100,000 people to mobilize Americans across the country, including AmeriCorps and Peace Corps Volunteers and those laid off by the crisis. Massachusetts has already launched its own. The U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps could serve in a variety of important functions, including ensuring contact tracing reaches every underserved community in America — ideally by members of those communities themselves. Already the data shows these communities are being left behind, even as they are suffering the brunt of the pandemic. Perhaps even more importantly, the U.S. Public Health Jobs Corps would become the permanent foundation for a stronger national community public health service that could eventually transition to fight the opioid epidemic and address other national public health priorities.
 
Finally, we need to be working right now on the conditions under which the private sector, industry by industry, can reopen safely. During the H1N1 epidemic, the Obama-Biden Administration tasked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Centers for Disease Control with issuing detailed guidance for how employers should protect their workers. Then OSHA enforced the law based on those guidelines. And it didn’t stop there. After the epidemic, it spent years preparing for the next one with a comprehensive and specific permanent infectious disease standard that would have required health facilities and certain other high exposure workplaces to permanently implement infection control programs to protect their workers. The Obama-Biden Administration handed this standard to the Trump Administration, but instead of moving it to rulemaking, the Trump Administration shelved it. 
 
Today, the Trump Administration is still not driving a serious enforcement effort, putting the health and safety of workers at risk every day. We should immediately double the number of OSHA investigators to enforce the law and existing standards and guidelines, release and enforce an Emergency Temporary Standard to give employers and employees more comprehensive and specific guidance on what to do to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and get to work bringing a permanent standard to conclusion and expanding it to include all relevant workplaces, from manufacturing plants to grocery stores.
 
We want our country to get moving and healthy again. But we must take the necessary, rational steps, grounded in science, to do so safely, so COVID-19 doesn’t come roaring back, shredding our still-fragile health care system and the green shoots of an economic reopening. Donald Trump says he’s a wartime president. It’s time for him to take responsibility and act like one.
 
Biden for President Public Health Advisory Committee Members:

  • Dr. Zeke Emanuel, Vice Provost of Global Initiatives and University Professor, Perelman School of Medicine and The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania
  • Dr. Rebecca Katz, Associate Professor, the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and Co-Director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University
  • Dr. David Kessler, Former Commissioner, U.S. Food & Drug Administration and Professor of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco
  • Dr. Nicole Lurie, Distinguished Health Policy Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics (LDI), The University of Pennsylvania
  • Lisa Monaco, Former Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor to President Obama
  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, 19th Surgeon General of the United States

Note: University affiliations are for identification purposes only.

Obama Endorses Biden for President

Vice President Joe Biden joins President Barack Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. President Obama endorsed Biden in his presidential election bid, saying, “Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery. And I know he’ll surround himself with good people – experts, scientists, military officials who actually know how to run the government and care about doing a good job running the government, and know how to work with our allies, and who will always put the American people’s interests above their own.” (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON – Today, President Barack Obama endorsed his friend and former Vice President Joe Biden for President. In a nearly 12-minute video filmed at his Washington-area home and posted online, President Obama said, “Choosing Joe to be my Vice President was one of the best decisions I ever made, and he became a close friend. And I believe Joe has all the qualities we need in a President right now.”
 
At the beginning of the Democratic presidential primary process last year, President Obama made clear that he would stay neutral because he believed that, in order for the Democratic Party to succeed in November, Democratic voters would have to select their nominee.
 
He also made clear that he would offer counsel to candidates who sought it out, be ready to help unify the Democratic Party at the culmination of the process, and campaign vigorously for the eventual nominee in the general election.
 
Just like he did in 2018, President Obama looks forward to campaigning aggressively for Democrats up and down the ballot this year. While campaigning during this cycle will look different than it normally does, what hasn’t changed is the need for all Democrats to get involved, stay engaged, and help Joe Biden and Democratic candidates win in November. This election is too important for anyone to sit out.
 
“Joe was there as we rebuilt from the Great Recession and rescued the American auto industry,” President Obama said. “He was the one asking what every policy would do for the middle class and everyone striving to get into the middle class. That’s why I asked him to implement the Recovery Act, which saved millions of jobs and got people back on their feet – because Joe gets stuff done. …
 
“Joe helped me manage H1N1 and prevent the Ebola epidemic from becoming the type of pandemic we’re seeing now. He helped me restore America’s standing and leadership in the world on the other threats of our time, like nuclear proliferation and climate change.
 
“Joe has the character and the experience to guide us through one of our darkest times and heal us through a long recovery. And I know he’ll surround himself with good people – experts, scientists, military officials who actually know how to run the government and care about doing a good job running the government, and know how to work with our allies, and who will always put the American people’s interests above their own. …
 
“Now Joe will be a better candidate for having run the gauntlet of primaries and caucuses alongside one of the most impressive Democratic fields ever. Each of our candidates were talented and decent, with a track record of accomplishment, smart ideas, and serious visions for the future. …
 

Vice President Joe Biden was endorsed for President by President Barack Obama saying, “Joe was there as we rebuilt from the Great Recession and rescued the American auto industry. He was the one asking what every policy would do for the middle class and everyone striving to get into the middle class. That’s why I asked him to implement the Recovery Act, which saved millions of jobs and got people back on their feet – because Joe gets stuff done.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In other words, elections matter. Right now, we need Americans of goodwill to unite in a great awakening against a politics that too often has been characterized by corruption, carelessness, self-dealing, disinformation, ignorance, and just plain meanness. And to change that, we need Americans of all political stripes to get involved in our politics and our public life like never before.
 
“For those of us who believe in building a more just, more generous, more democratic America where everybody has a fair shot at opportunity. For those of us who believe in a government that cares about the many, and not just the few. For those of us who love this country and are willing to do our part to make sure it lives up to its highest ideals – now’s the time to fight for what we believe in.”
 
Since leaving office, President Obama has remained politically active, campaigning and issuing endorsements in key races in 2017; holding regular fundraisers for the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the DNC, the DCCC and the DSCC; and endorsing more than 300 candidates up and down the ballot and holding rallies in 11 states in the 2018 mid-term elections.
 
The video is available online here.

Biden Offers “Make It Work” Checklist for Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act

Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Absolutely none of the plans to mitigate against the twin crises posed by the coronavirus pandemic on Americans’ healthcare and the nation’s economy have come from Trump, but rather he has played catch up finally responding to the pleas and shaming from Congressional Democrats, who turned the trillion dollar slush fund for corporations into a $2.2 trillion relief bill, and from Governors and Mayors desperate for life-saving medical equipment and supplies. But his administration has proved woefully inadequate to implement. The $350 billion earmarked to rescue small businesses that is supposed to go into effect has no actual means; the billions in relief checks that are supposed to go to individuals are bogged down by a dysfunctional administration. While Trump has used the coronavirus pandemic to attack Democrats, and take advantage of the limited ability of Democratic candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to campaign by turning briefings into rallies and extort praise and adulation from desperate government officials, Biden has sought to point to the contrast his leadership would offer.

Joe Biden released a “Make It Work” checklist to provide the federal government with specific recommendations surrounding the implementation and oversight of the CARES Act, the recent stimulus package passed by Congress to ensure the economic relief and recovery effort works for families, workers, and small businesses. (Recall Trump’s signing statement which basically obviated the oversight the Democrats put into the Act.) The checklist builds on Biden’s plan to combat coronavirus (COVID-19) released on March 12 and his emergency action plan for the economy released on March 26. This is from the Biden campaign –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

Implementation and Oversight of the CARES Act:
The Biden “Make It Work” Checklist

1. Making Americans who lose their jobs financially whole by ensuring that they get their unemployment insurance on time and in full. The CARES Act provides for the equivalent of full wage replacement for average American wage-earners. With millions of Americans making claims for lost jobs in a single week – nearly five times the previous record – getting workers their wage replacement checks fast has never been more important. Let’s be clear: even with new funds from the CARES Act, if the White House does not do everything in its power to help all of our states swiftly implement these new unemployment (UI) benefits, states will be even more overwhelmed. Our states will need help with staffing capacity, technology solutions, training for new claims processors, and best practices from other jurisdictions. This must happen immediately – before the crush of UI claims becomes even more overwhelming. Americans desperate for relief to pay the rent and keep food on the tables for their children will judge states’ performance on the number of UI claims successfully processed, the number of Americans paid as quickly as possible, and how quickly they receive relief – beginning this week. Biden would:

Establish a UI delivery team to help states solve any implementation problems they face. He would authorize that team to provide funds beyond the $1 billion appropriated to states to add staffing and server capacity.

Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act to ensure that banks that have contracts with states deliver unemployment benefit payments to laid-off workers do so in a timely manner, and that they offer prompt electronic payment options.

Issue clear guidance about the broadest possible eligibility and communicate that guidance effectively so that all Americans understand what benefits they are entitled to.

Make clear that gig workers can get partial benefits when they are still working if their compensation and hours have been significantly reduced.

Work with Congress to extend the provisions for the duration of the crisis. Four months is not enough to provide families the aid they need throughout this economic crisis.

2. Get direct cash relief as quickly as possible to as many Americans as possible. The CARES Act provides for $1,200 per person and $500 per child in cash relief for millions of  working families. Biden would prioritize getting Americans the cash relief they are owed and making it easy to access the relief. The Trump administration is already failing at this by causing needless worry for millions of seniors and people with disabilities. Biden would do so by:

Delivering the payments electronically whenever possible and delivering pre-paid debit cards to those who don’t have bank accounts. Payments should not be delayed just so that President Trump can put his signature on a physical check.

Making payments automatic for millions who haven’t filed a tax return based on information the government already has– and streamlining filing for others. The Trump Administration has needlessly confused millions by first announcing that Social Security recipients and people with disabilities would have to file a tax return to receive their stimulus rebate, before reversing themselves. The reversal is welcome. The CARES Act clearly allows the Treasury Department to send cash relief payments automatically to millions of seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, and others without burdening them with new paperwork during a pandemic. Treasury can send these payments using information that the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, and other agencies already possess to get payments to these people. From the start, Biden would have announced an automatic, clear, and simple process of getting stimulus payments to these individuals. And he would extend these same automatic payments to others, like veterans, who still would not get automatic payments under the Administration’s plan. For those who do need to file a new form, Biden would establish an immediate, streamlined cash relief application process to make sure the neediest Americans are being taken care of. There is no reason that most of these Americans cannot be paid within days of filing this paperwork with the right focus, the right process, and the right prioritization.

Expanding the CARES Act relief to dependents left out of the legislation. Democrats fought and won cash relief for most working families, but the legislation left out relief for dependents aged 17 and older, whether a high school student or an older relative living with a family. That is a huge hole in support for working families. As he pushes for relief to extend as long as is needed to pull us through this crisis, Biden would immediately ask Congress to correct this and give these families the support they deserve.

Preparing for additional payments. As the crisis continues, Biden would provide additional cash payments as necessary.

3. Keep as many people on payroll as possible by working with all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands to make maximum use of “work-sharing” and “short-time compensation” programs. The Obama-Biden administration expanded an innovative form of “employment insurance,” called “work-sharing” or “short-time compensation.” Under these programs, when a business keeps its workers on payroll – but with reduced hours – federally-backed insurance will compensate those workers to make up for their reduced hours. Expanding short-time compensation has never been more important than today, when keeping workers on payrolls is an urgent national economic priority. Before this crisis, more than 20 states didn’t have programs to allow for short-time compensation, and they were often underutilized even in the states that did. The CARES Act provides for additional federal financing to expand work-sharing. To make that financing work, Biden would:

Direct the Department of Labor to ensure these programs are offered in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Provide resources and guidance for states to create a simple application for small businesses, as well as larger businesses, to take advantage of work-sharing. 

Direct the Department of Labor to issue guidance applying the $600 per week emergency boost in unemployment insurance under the CARES Act to work-sharing programs.

Work with Congress to allow, on an emergency basis, work-sharing programs to pay benefits when hours are reduced dramatically, but employees are still working part-time. 

4. Take the necessary steps to ensure that all small businesses can access relief fast, not just those with the right connections. The CARES Act includes a small business program to provide loans and funds to help small businesses survive this storm and keep their workers on their payroll. It also provides the same relief to small nonprofits, many of whom are needed more than ever in a national crisis. However, there is no assurance that all eligible small businesses will receive support — and the program relies on private banks’ willingness and ability to swiftly provide these government-backed loans. An approach that simply assumes major banks will do this in a fair, efficient, and comprehensive way is likely to result in too few loans being made, too slowly, and mostly to larger and more well-resourced businesses with established relationships and connections. To get loans out quickly to the millions of qualifying Main Street small businesses that need relief — especially in rural and urban communities and those owned by women and minorities — we need a network of financial institutions committed to and capable of efficiently extending credit to every small business and nonprofit in need of support. The rules must be clear and simple to give every eligible small business the confidence that relief is coming, and that they can plan for the future with that relief in mind. There are millions of struggling businesses that do not have time to wait. Success cannot be judged by incremental progress or splashy announcements – we need an effort to direct hundreds of thousands of loans to businesses, beginning this week. For Biden, this would be designated as a vital national priority. Immediately, he would:

Apply a financial version of the Defense Production Act, to make all banks prioritize the swift processing of small business loans, putting them at the front of the line as a national priority. Banks would have to process loan applications within a few working days from all small businesses seeking relief, including the mom-and-pop shops that need help the most and are frequently pushed to the back of the line and those in low-income and traditionally underbanked geographies.

Cut red tape: immediately use the authority in the CARES Act to set simple and clear eligibility criteria; a hyper-streamlined application process; and an expedited process for the smallest of businesses who are most likely to be left out.

Explore creative solutions like working with payroll processing companies to speed up disbursement, including a one-click process for accessing funds.

Produce a weekly dashboard to show which small businesses are accessing loans – to make sure that the program isn’t leaving out communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, or the smallest businesses – and whether they are maintaining payroll.

Make sure that the small business loan program is connected with the work-sharing strategy so that these initiatives are providing the maximum support towards keeping workers on payroll.

Halt evictions and foreclosures of small businesses, and work to provide forbearance on rent and mortgages to provide a lifeline as loans are being processed

Immediately reengage Congress to allow for small business loans that can keep workers on the payroll for far longer than eight weeks.

Immediately seek bipartisan agreement that additional resources will be available as needed to cover loans to eligible small businesses and nonprofits, so that there is not a race to exhaust the $350 billion that leaves some of the most deserving family and smaller-businesses out in the cold because they were not as well-connected or served well by banks.

5. Set clear rules on any industry support – they must help workers and communities, not bail out shareholders or financial industry creditors. The CARES Act gives the Treasury Secretary authority to provide financial assistance directly to large companies. While Democrats secured important protections against stock buybacks and executive compensation, Biden would set a higher bar to make sure that any industry bailout package helps workers and communities where the company operates – not the existing shareholders or creditors of some of the largest companies in the country. He would require that, in return for any financial assistance, large companies accept further conditions along the lines outlined by Senators Brown and Warren, including that they: 

Demonstrate they are prepared to actively participate in the public health effort, including production, distribution, and logistics capacity.

Agree to maintain payrolls at reasonable levels, for both full-time employees and contractors.

Allow taxpayers to share in the upside of any recovery, as was practiced during the last downturn, while ensuring existing shareholders and creditors share in any losses.

Agree to worker representation on their Board of Directors.

Commit to not transfer jobs out of the United States.

6. Establish strong oversight and transparency to police abuse and misappropriation by the Administration and the corporations who receive funds. In addition to enforcing strict conditions, Biden would ensure there are no sweetheart deals, no special favors, and no slush fund, and that corporations follow through on their hard commitments. This is a major concern given the track record of the Trump administration. In the CARES Act, Congress established a Special Inspector General to police the $500 billion in funding for large corporations and to make sure it is going to the right places for the right reasons. But last week, Trump’s White House announced that it intends to restrict the work of the Special Inspector General, in defiance of the bipartisan legislation and the will of the American people to have strong transparency and oversight. Biden would provide full freedom to the Special Inspector General to conduct oversight, meet regularly with him or her, and ensure he or she had all the resources required for effective oversight. That is what he did with the Inspector General under the Recovery Act, and the result was less than 0.2% fraud . 

7. Move much-needed funds for public health and emergency medical needs to hospitals, and local, state, and tribal governments. The CARES Act includes critical provisions to meet the needs of this public health emergency, including funding for cash-strapped hospitals. Biden would focus on getting those funds out the door, with a special focus on rural hospitals that were already financially constrained before COVID-19. He would also provide additional reimbursement plus-ups for Medicare providers who are risking their lives to treat patients. Finally, Biden would ensure that hospitals are not cutting the pay of doctors and nurses during this emergency, as some reports have indicated. The allocation of federal dollars should be conditioned on an explicit commitment to not cut back on wages or benefits of hospital-based health care workers. As funds are disbursed, Biden would work to ensure the administration is tracking what else hospitals need so that we can ensure that we incorporate that into future legislation and budgets. 

8. Ensure equitable allocation of recovery funds. There is a growing body of evidence that recovery funding after crises actually widens pre-existing racial disparities. For example, researchers at Rice University and the University of Pittsburgh found that “whites accumulate more wealth after natural disasters while residents of color accumulate less.” Federal leadership will be required to ensure that recovery from the pandemic helps everyone hurt in the crisis in a fair and equitable way, with a special focus on populations that have historically been left out or left behind. Jurisdictions that receive funding should be required to develop and report on metrics for addressing potential racial disparities, and the SBA and Treasury should similarly track lending to ensure that minority business owners – who have traditionally faced unequal access to credit and capital – are not treated unfairly.  And, the Trump Administration should suspend their public charge rule. Allowing immigration officials to make an individual’s ability to receive a visa or gain permanent residency contingent on their use of government services such as SNAP benefits or Medicaid, their household income, and other discriminatory criteria not only undermines America’s character as land of opportunity that is open and welcoming to all, but also may stop immigrants from getting help during this pandemic and pose broader issues for public health.

9. Establish a CARES Act Implementation Office with responsibility for ensuring (a) people understand and can effectively access all the relief to which they are entitled; and (b) states have all the capacities they need to get the money out as fast as possible. The CARES Act is hundreds of pages long. Big businesses have armies of lawyers to help them figure it out. But many small businesses and families won’t know what’s available to them like: who qualifies for mortgage forbearance? What do small businesses need to qualify not just for loans but for loan forgiveness? Biden would establish a team that would put together a plain-language, comprehensive guide to the benefits in the bill and who they are meant for — and a strategy to communicate to the American people. The Office would set up both online- and telephone-based customer service to answer questions. It would work with community leaders across the country who are on the front lines of this crisis. And, Biden would dedicate staff to every single state as action officers to assist states in accessing the CARES Act funds and disbursing them efficiently. 

10. Start working on the Fourth Package now. We already know that more will have to be done; potentially a massive amount more. Biden wouldn’t wait. He would bring together the leaders of Congress to design a fourth package that accomplishes three things: (a) fixes things that aren’t working in CARES Act implementation and fills in gaps that become apparent; (b) takes care of the people the CARES Act left out; and (c) does whatever it takes, spends whatever it takes, to help the American people and the American economy emerge from the other side of this stronger. He would also make sure the new package automatically extends relief as long as is needed to support families and communities through this crisis. In addition to provisions mentioned above, Biden would ask Congress to include in new legislation:

Any further resources and authority required to break down barriers to implementation, whether on small business, or unemployment insurance, or short-time compensation.

Additional provisions to meet needs not fully covered in the CARES Act, including:

Additional funds for states. As this crisis unfolds, states are going to get crushed under the weight of falling revenues combined with far higher emergency financial burdens. Cops and firefighters and teachers are going to be at risk of losing pay. Biden would make sure the federal government provides the relief that communities on the front lines need to put their full resources behind the public health response without forcing painful and damaging cuts to public services, education, and public safety, and to deal with extraordinary economic circumstances like helping with missed rent and other payments for those facing significant hardship.

Cost-free treatment for COVID-19, regardless of immigration status.

Student debt forgiveness through the duration of the crisis, with a minimum of $10,000.

Boosts to Social Security by $200 per month for seniors and persons with disabilities.

Paid sick leave and paid family and medical leave for every worker, and making these benefits permanent.

An increase in SNAP benefits by 15 percent during the deepening recession, and temporarily provide low-income families with about $100 per month in extra nutritional support.

A rent freeze for qualifying individuals for the duration of the crisis

A halt to foreclosures and evictions as people get on their feet.

Key long-term investments, stronger public health systems, and automatic stabilizers so that in future crises the social safety net is there for Americans who need it.

Biden to Trump: Lift Sanctions on Iran to Combat COVID-19 Pandemic

Demonstrating once again a clear contrast between the failed leadership of a clueless Donald Trump, who only knows how to politicize, attack and destroy, Vice President Joe Biden is calling for the US to lift sanctions on Iran, which is undergoing one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world.(c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Demonstrating once again a clear contrast between the failed leadership of a clueless Donald Trump, who only knows how to politicize, attack and destroy, Vice President Joe Biden is calling for the US to lift sanctions on Iran, which is undergoing one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. “America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger… To stop this pandemic effectively, every country on earth will need to work together.” Here is Biden’s statement:  –Karen Rubin, news-photos-features.com.

In times of global crisis, America should lead. We should be the first to offer help to people who are hurting or in danger. That’s who we are. That’s who we’ve always been. And, in the midst of this deadly pandemic that respects no borders, the United States should take steps to offer what relief we can to those nations hardest hit by this virus — including Iran — even as we prioritize the health of the American people.

Iran is struggling to contain one of the deadliest COVID-19 outbreaks in the world. While the Iranian government has failed to respond effectively to this crisis, including lying and concealing the truth from its own people, and it continues to act provocatively in the region, the Iranian people are hurting desperately. It is bad enough that the Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in favor of a “maximum pressure” strategy that has badly backfired, encouraging Iran to become even more aggressive and restart its nuclear program. It makes no sense, in a global health crisis, to compound that failure with cruelty by inhibiting access to needed humanitarian assistance. Whatever our profound differences with the Iranian government, we should support the Iranian people. 

There are already humanitarian exceptions in place for sanctions, but in practice, most governments and organizations are too concerned about running afoul of U.S. sanctions to offer assistance. As a result, our sanctions are limiting Iran’s access to medical supplies and needed equipment. The Trump Administration should take immediate steps to address this problem and streamline channels for banking and public health assistance from other countries in response to the health emergency in Iran. 

Specific steps should include: issuing broad licenses to pharmaceutical and medical device companies; creating a dedicated channel for international banks, transportation companies, insurers, and other service firms to help Iranians access life-saving medical treatment; issuing new sanctions guidance to these groups and international aid organizations to make it clear how they can immediately, directly, and legally respond to the tragedy in Iran, without fear of penalty; and, for entities already conducting enhanced due diligence, it should issue comfort letters to reassure them that they will not be subject to U.S. sanctions if they engage in humanitarian trade with Iran to support its COVID-19 response. The administration should also consider similar steps to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not inhibit live-saving medical assistance to other countries hard hit by the virus.

The administration’s offer of aid to Iran is insufficient if not backed by concrete steps to ensure the United States is not exacerbating this growing humanitarian crisis. Whatever our many, many disagreements with the Iranian government, it’s the right and the humane thing to do. And Iran also should make a humanitarian gesture and allow detained American citizens to return home.

To stop this pandemic effectively, every country on earth will need to work together. We must address COVID-19 outbreaks wherever they occur, because as long as this virus is spreading anywhere in the world, it is a danger to public health everywhere. Artificially limiting the flow of international humanitarian assistance to pursue a political point will not only allow the Iranian government to deflect responsibility for its own botched response, it will increase the threat this virus poses to the American people, now and in the future. 

Biden Poses 5 Questions Challenging Trump’s Handling of Coronavirus Pandemic

As Trump uses daily press briefings as political rallies to spin away his monumental failure to combat coronavirus and save lives, Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden is cut off from the ability to effectively campaign. Here he offers five questions that should be posed to Trump, that underscore the difference in leadership. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As Trump uses daily press briefings as political rallies to spin away his monumental failure to combat coronavirus and save lives, Democratic candidate for president Joe Biden is cut off from the ability to effectively campaign. Here he offers five questions that should be posed to Trump, that underscore the difference in leadership. This is from the Biden campaign: -Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.


1.  Why did you tell governors pleading for help from the federal government that you “haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that you haven’t “heard about testing in weeks” when many Americans are still unable to get tested for coronavirus and earlier testing delays allowed the virus to explode across the country?
 
In a call with governors today, according to the New York Times, Trump claimed that “I haven’t heard about testing being a problem” and that he hasn’t “heard about testing in weeks” — even though countless Americans are still unable to be tested for the coronavirus, fatally undercutting our response to this crisis?
 
Trump’s baseless claim comes just days after a bombshell report by the Times showed how his failure to quickly deploy an accurate coronavirus test resulted in a “lost month” that left America blind as it tried to combat the virus’ spread, and that his administration “squandered [America’s] best chance of containing the virus’s spread.”
 
 
2.  Why did you make the unfounded claim that first responders and health care workers in New York were stealing masks, and will you heed Vice President Biden’s challenge from last night to use the DPA within 48 hours to secure life-saving personal protective equipment?
 
In a bizarre rant yesterday, President Trump claimed, without evidence, that first responders and health care workers in New York were responsible for the theft or hoarding of huge numbers of masks. This unfounded claim was Trump’s latest attempt to avoid taking responsibility for his failure to get life-saving equipment to people on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus.
 
In response, Vice President Biden called on Trump on Sunday night to finally use the Defense Production Act within 48 hours to secure enough of the badly-needed personal protective equipment to provide for every state and first responder who needs it.
 
 
3.  GOP State Attorneys General confirmed today that they will continue their lawsuit to roll back the Affordable Care Act and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance in the midst of a pandemic. Will you, as Vice President Biden has called for, withdraw your support for this effort?
 
The Daily Beast confirmed today that at least five Republican state Attorneys General plan to continue their lawsuit to overturn the ACA — threatening the health care of millions of Americans in the middle of a pandemic. 
 
Ten years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, expanding access to quality, affordable health care for millions of Americans. But instead of standing up for Americans’ health care, Donald Trump continues to lead fellow Republicans in efforts to do away with the law and the critical protections it put in place.
 
20 million Americans have received health insurance through the ACA, and it’s given better care and peace of mind to countless others — that’s why Vice President Biden sent a letter to President Trump and Republican leaders demanding that they drop their efforts to jeopardize Americans’ health care.
 
 
4.  Why did you claim again this morning on Fox News that New York already has “more than enough” ventilators and say, without evidence, that they’re being misused? And, why did it take you so long to head the pleas of governors and health care workers to use the DPA to secure more ventilators after wasting months?
 
During an interview this morning on Fox News, Trump again downplayed the critical ventilator shortage in New York, saying “[they] should be fine, based on the numbers that we see. They should have more than enough.” And that, “I’m hearing stories that they’re not used, or not used right.” This comes after Trump similarly downplayed the ventilator shortage during an interview with Sean Hannity last week.
 
Across the country, experts and health care workers on the front lines are sounding the alarm about a critical shortage of life-saving ventilators and personal protective equipment, but Donald Trump has been slow and erratic at every step of the way.
 
Trump’s months of downplaying the looming threat of coronavirus cost us precious weeks where ventilator production could have been ramped up. And, Trump’s decision to bow to corporate lobbying instead of quickly invoking the Defense Production Act has slowed and complicated efforts to get ventilators to patients whose lives depend on access to them.
 
 
5.  Why did your administration ignore existing Obama-Biden Administration plans to combat pandemics and why did you take actions that reduced our preparedness for challenges like the coronavirus?
 
POLITICO reports that the Trump administration tossed out an existing “pandemic playbook” from the National Security Council that laid out, in detail, steps to take in the face of a public health emergency like this.
 
As a result, key problems that the playbook planned for — like the current logistical challenges plaguing our health care system — went unaddressed, slowing down our response.
 
This is only one in a string of missteps by the Trump administration that left the United States unprepared and vulnerable to a future pandemic. Key positions across the government have been left unfilled, or occupied by unqualified political cronies. Similarly, CDC staff in China was slashed on Trump’s watch, removing important eyes and ears on the ground that could have given us critical early notice of the coronavirus’ spread.

Biden Delivers His Prescription for Fighting the Health, Economic Impacts of Coronavirus Pandemic

Vice President Joe Biden gave his prescription for addressing the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic – a strong contrast to the speech Trump delivered from the Oval Office (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

This is the speech on protecting against the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic that Americans should have heard from the Oval Office:

Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden on Combating Coronavirus (COVID-19)

My fellow Americans:
 
Today, across the nation, many of us are feeling anxious about the rapid spread of COVID-19, known as the coronavirus, and the threat it poses to our health, our loved ones, and our livelihoods.
 
I know people are worried, and my thoughts are with all those who are directly fighting this virus — those infected, families that have suffered a loss, our first responders and health care providers who are putting themselves on the line for others. And I’d like to thank those who are already making sacrifices to protect us— whether that’s self-quarantining or cancelling events or closing campuses. Because whether or not you are infected, or know someone who is infected, or have been in contact with an infected person — this will require a national response. Not just from our elected leaders or our public health officials — from all of us.
 
We all must follow the guidance of health officials and take appropriate precautions — to protect ourselves, and critically, to protect others, especially those who are most at-risk from this disease.
 
It will mean making some radical changes to our personal behaviors: more frequent and more through handwashing and staying home from work if you are ill, but also altering some deeply-ingrained habits, like handshakes and hugs, and avoiding large public gatherings.
 
That is why earlier this week, on the recommendation of officials, my campaign cancelled the election night rally we had planned to hold in Cleveland, Ohio. We will also be re-imagining the format for the large-crowd events we had planned in Chicago and Miami in the coming days. And we will continue to assess and adjust how we conduct our campaign as we move forward, and find new ways to share our message with the public, while putting the health and safety of the American people first.
 
Yesterday, we announced a Public Health Advisory Committee of experts who will counsel our campaign and help guide our decisions on steps to minimize the risk. We will be led by the science.
 
The World Health Organization has now officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Downplaying it, being overly dismissive, or spreading misinformation will only hurt us and further advantage the spread of the disease. But neither should we panic or fall back on xenophobia. Labeling COVID-19 a “foreign virus” does not displace accountability for the mismanagement that we have seen from the Trump Administration.
 
Let me be crystal clear: the coronavirus does not have a political affiliation. It will infect Republicans and Democrats alike. It will not discriminate based on national origin, race, gender, or zip code. It will touch people in positions of power and the most vulnerable in our society.
 
A wall will not stop it. Banning all travel from Europe, or any other part of the world, may slow it — but as we have seen — it will not stop it. And travel restrictions based on favoritism and politics — rather than risk — will be counterproductive. This disease could impact every nation and any person on the planet. And we need a plan about how we are going to aggressively manage it here at home.
 
The American people have the capacity to meet this moment. We will face this with the same spirit that has guided us through previous crises. We will come together as a nation. We will look out for one another and do our part as citizens. We have to harness the ingenuity of our scientists and the resourcefulness of our people. And we have to lead the world to drive a coordinated global strategy, not shut ourselves off from it.
 
Protecting the health and safety of the American people is the most important job of any president — and unfortunately, this virus has laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current Administration. Public fears are being compounded by a pervasive lack of trust in this president, fueled by his adversarial relationship with the truth.
 
Our government’s ability to respond effectively has been undermined by the hollowing-out of our agencies and the disparagement of science. And our ability to drive a global response is dramatically undercut by the damage Trump has done to our credibility and our relationships around the world.
 
We have to get to work immediately to dig ourselves out of this hole. That is why, today, I am releasing a plan to combat and overcome the coronavirus. The full details are on JoeBiden.com laying out the immediate steps we must take to deliver: A decisive public health response to curb the spread of this disease and provide treatment to those in need; and a decisive economic response that delivers real relief to American workers, families, and small businesses — and protects the economy as a whole.
 
I offer it as a roadmap, not for what I will do as president 10 months from now, but for the leadership I believe is required right now, in this moment. President Trump is welcome to adopt it today. 
 
The core principle is simple: public health professionals must be the ones making our public health decisions and communicating with the American people. It would be a step toward reclaiming public trust and confidence in the United States government and toward stopping the fear and chaos that can overtake communities faster than this pandemic. And it’s critical to mounting an effective national response that will save lives, protect our front-line health workers, and slow the spread of this virus.  
 
First, anyone who needs to be tested based on medical guidelines, should be tested—at no charge. The Administration’s failure on testing is colossal. It is a failure of planning, leadership, and execution. The White House should measure and report each day how many tests were ordered, how many tests have been completed, and how many have tested positive. By next week, the number of tests should be in the millions, not the thousands. We should make sure every person in a nursing home, a senior center, or a vulnerable population has easy access to a test. 
 
We should establish hundreds of mobile testing sites — at least 10 per state — and drive-thru testing centers to speed testing and protect health care workers. 
 
The CDC, private labs, universities, and manufacturers should be working in lock-step to get this done, and get it done right. No effort should be spared. No excuses should be made. Tests should be available to all who need them and the government should stop at nothing to make that happen. 
 
We must know the true extent of this outbreak so we can map it, trace it, and contain it. Nor should we hide the true number of infections in hopes of protecting political interests or the stock market. The markets will respond to strong, steady, capable leadership that addresses the root of the problem, not efforts to cover it up.
 
Second, we need to surge our capability to both prevent and treat the coronavirus, and prepare our hospitals to deal with an influx of those needing care. This means not just getting out the testing kits and processing them quickly, but making sure communities have the hospital beds, the staff, the medical supplies, and the personal protective equipment necessary to treat patients.
 
The president should order FEMA to prepare the capacity with local authorities to establish temporary hospitals with hundreds of beds on short notice. The Department of Defense should prepare for the potential deployment of its resources to provide medical facility capacity and logistical support. A week from now, a month from now, we could need an instant, 500-bed hospital to isolate and treat patients in any city in the country. We can do that — but we aren’t ready yet, and the clock is ticking.

As we take these steps, state, federal, and local authorities need to ensure that there is accurate, up-to-date information easily available to every American so everyone can make an informed decision about when to get tested, when to self-quarantine, and when to seek medical treatment. And the federal government should provide states and municipalities with clear guidance about when to trigger more aggressive mitigation policies, such as closing schools.
 
Third, we need to accelerate the development of treatments and a vaccine. Science takes time. It will still be many months before we have a vaccine that can be proven safe for public use and produced in sufficient quantity to make a difference. Therapeutics can and should come sooner. That will save lives. We passed the Cures Act in 2016 to accelerate work at the National Institutes of Health, but now it must have every available resource to speed the process along.
 
We must fast-track clinical trials within the NIH, while closely coordinating with the Food and Drug Administration on trial approvals, so that the science is not hindered by the bureaucracy. And, when we do have a vaccine ready to go, it should also be made widely available, free of charge.  
 
We should also immediately restore the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense –with a full-time, dedicated coordinator to oversee the response.
 
Our Administration created that office to better respond to future global health threats after the Ebola crisis in 2014.
 
It was designed for exactly this scenario.
 
President Trump eliminated the office two years ago.
 
Here’s the bottom line: we have to do what is necessary to beat this challenge sooner rather than later.
 
I assure you, if we wait for it to worsen then scramble to catch up, the human and economic toll will be far greater and last far longer.
 
Congress gave the Administration $8 billion last week to fight the virus.  We need to know exactly where that money is going, how quickly it is going out the door, and how it is being spent. 

This brings me to the second half of this challenge — the economic dislocation the coronavirus will cause in our country.
 
We must do whatever it takes, spend whatever it takes, to deliver relief for our families and ensure the stability of our economy.
 
Taking immediate, bold measures to help Americans who are hurting economically right now.
 
It means we will need bigger and broader measures to shore up economic demand, protect jobs, keep credit flowing to our job creators, and make sure we have the economic fire power we need to weather this storm and get our people and this economy back to full strength as soon as possible.  

This crisis will hit everyone, but it will hit folks who live paycheck-to-paycheck the hardest, including working people and seniors.
 
Another tax cut to Google or Goldman or millionaires won’t get the job done.
 
Indiscriminate corporate tax subsidies won’t effectively target those who really need help.
 
We need to place our focus on those who will struggle just to get by.
 
People are already losing jobs — we need to replace their wages.

That includes workers in the gig economy who lack unemployment insurance.

Parents who are already struggling with childcare costs — we need to give them relief.
 
Children who rely on school lunches will need food.

And schools will need help ensuring children who do not have easy access to computers can still learn if their schools close. 
 
People who have difficulty paying their rent or mortgage because they’ve been laid off or had their hours cut back — we need to help them stay in their homes.
 
Small businesses that will be devastated as customers stay home and events are canceled — we need to make sure they have access to interest-free loans.
 
It is a national disgrace that millions of our fellow citizens do not have a single day of paid sick leave.
 
We need — both — a permanent plan for paid sick leave and an emergency plan for everyone who needs it due to the outbreak.
 

Beyond these national measures, my plan also calls for the creation of a State and Local Emergency Fund to make sure governors, mayors, and local leaders who are battling coronavirus on the ground have the resources necessary to meet this crisis head on.

These funds could be used at the discretion of local leaders for whatever they most need: expanding critical health infrastructure, hiring additional health care and emergency service personnel, or cushioning the wider economic blow this virus will cause our communities. 
 
We need smart, bold, and compassionate leadership that will help contain the crisis, reduce hardship to our people, and help our economy rebound.
 
But let me be clear: this is just a start. 
 
We must prepare now to take further decisive action, including direct relief, that will be large in scale and focused on the broader health and stability of our economy.
 
But we can only protect the health of our economy, if we do everything in our power to protect the health of our people.

The last point I want to make today is this — we will never fully solve this problem if we are unwilling to look beyond our own borders and engage fully with the world.
 
A disease that starts any place on the planet can be on a plane to any city on earth a few hours later.
 
So we have to confront coronavirus everywhere. 
 
We should be leading a coordinated, global response, just as we did for Ebola, that draws on the incredible capability of the U.S. Agency for International Development and our State Department to assist vulnerable nations in detecting and treating coronavirus wherever it is spreading.
 

We should be investing in rebuilding and strengthening the Global Health Security Agenda, which we launched during our Administration, specifically to mobilize the world against the threat of new infectious diseases.
 
It can be hard to see the concrete value of this work when everything seems well with the world.
 
But by cutting our investments in global health, this Administration has left us woefully ill-prepared for the exact crisis we now face.
 
No President can promise to prevent future outbreaks.
 
But I can promise you that when I’m president, we will prepare better, respond better, and recover better.

We will lead with science.
 
We will listen to experts and heed their advice.
 
We will rebuild American leadership and rally the world to meet global threats.
 
And I will always, always tell you the truth.
 
That is the responsibility of a president.
 
That is what is owed to the American people.
 
Now, and in the difficult days that still lie ahead, I know that this country will summon our spirit of empathy, decency, and unity.
 
Because, in times of crisis, Americans stand as one. 
 
Volunteers raise their hands to help.
 
Neighbors look out for neighbors.
 
Businesses take care of their workers.
 
So we will meet this challenge — together.
 
Thank you all.

Democratic Race for 2020: Biden Issues Plan to End Opioid Crisis, Ensure Access to Treatment and Recovery

Vice President Joe Biden, running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, has released his plan for ending the opioid crisis and ensuring access to effective treatment and recovery for substance use disorders. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Vice President Joe Biden has released his plan for ending the opioid crisis and ensuring access to effective treatment and recovery for substance use disorders. This is from the Biden Campaign:

Millions of families are impacted by the opioid crisis. It’s ravaging communities coast to coast, from New Hampshire to California. The challenge of substance use disorders is not limited to opioids. Millions of individuals are affected by misuse of other substances such as alcohol or methamphetamine. Latest estimates indicate that, in 2018, almost 68,000 Americans died from a drug overdose – almost 47,000 of which involved an opioid. And, the impacts of this crisis reverberate in our classrooms and neighborhoods, in small towns and big cities.
 
Biden will tackle this crisis by making sure people have access to high quality health care – including substance use disorder treatment and mental health services. That’s what Obamacare did by designating substance use disorder treatment and mental health services as essential benefits that insurers must cover, and by expanding Medicaid, the nation’s largest payer for mental health services which also plays an increasingly growing role as a payer for substance use disorder services.
 
But President Trump wants to repeal Obamacare, including its Medicaid expansion. Repeal would be disastrous for communities and families combating the opioid crisis. It is not realistic to think that grant money will fill the hole that eliminating Obamacare and its Medicaid expansion would create.
 
Step one of Biden’s plan to tackle the opioid epidemic and substance use disorders is to defeat Trump and then protect and build on Obamacare. And, Biden will pursue a comprehensive, public health approach to deal with opioid and other substance use disorders. His plan will:

Hold accountable big pharmaceutical companies, executives, and others responsible for their role in triggering the opioid crisis.

Make effective prevention, treatment, and recovery services available to all, including through a $125 billion federal investment.

Stop overprescribing while improving access to effective and needed pain management.

Reform the criminal justice system so that no one is incarcerated for drug use alone.

Stem the flow of illicit drugs, like fentanyl and heroin, into the United States – especially from China and Mexico.


HOLD ACCOUNTABLE BIG PHARMA COMPANIES, EXECUTIVES, AND OTHERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ROLE IN TRIGGERING THE OPIOID CRISIS
 
Biden will demand accountability from pharmaceutical companies and others responsible for the opioid crisis, including manufacturers, distributors, and “pill mill operators.” Pharmaceutical executives should be held personally responsible, including criminally liable where appropriate. Specifically, Biden will:

Direct the U.S. Justice Department to make actions that spurred this crisis a top investigative and, where appropriate, civil and criminal enforcement priority. Biden will make sure the Department has all the necessary resources to complete this work. Building on the efforts of the Obama-Biden Administration, Biden will also ensure the Food and Drug Administration takes action when new information reveals harms from previously approved drugs (including the risk of diversion, or the use of drugs by an individual other than the one to whom the drug was prescribed), ensures compliance with risk mitigation strategies, and punishes drug companies for deceptive practices. And, he will appoint an Opioid Crisis Accountability Coordinator to coordinate efforts across federal agencies and support the enforcement efforts of state and local partners.

Direct the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to step up its efforts to identify suspicious shipments and protect communities. Opioids distributors knowingly shipped millions of pills to towns with hundreds of residents, helping trigger the opioid epidemic. Biden will empower the DEA to stop drug shipments from pharmaceutical companies and their distributors that create risks of diversion and misuse. Biden will work with Congress to allow the DEA to act expeditiously when a pharmaceutical distributor fails to adequately monitor shipments that could pose an “imminent danger” to vulnerable communities and increase penalties for companies that fail to take action to stop suspicious shipments. In addition, Biden will direct the DEA to improve data collection on wholesalers and pharmacies, including prescribing patterns and suspicious order reports, and to disseminate its analysis to distributors to prevent problems before they become disasters.

Ban drug manufacturers from providing payments or incentives to physicians and other prescribers. Pharmaceutical companies work hard to persuade doctors and other medical personnel to prescribe their products. These companies essentially pay providers to prescribe opioids and other drugs by, for example, paying providers to speak at or attend conferences, or consult for their companies. By banning these practices, Biden will ensure that patients’ lives do not take a backseat to doctors’ bottom lines.

Terminating pharmaceutical corporations’ tax break for advertisement spending. Drug corporations spent an estimated $6 billion in 2016 alone on prescription drug advertisements to increase their sales, a more than four-fold increase from just $1.3 billion in 1997. The American Medical Association has even expressed “concerns among physicians about the negative impact of commercially driven promotions, and the role that marketing costs play in fueling escalating drug prices.” Currently, drug corporations may count spending on these ads as a deduction to reduce the amount of taxes they owe. But taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for these ads. As President, Biden will end this tax deduction for all prescription drug ads, as proposed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen.

 
MAKE EFFECTIVE PREVENTION, TREATMENT, AND RECOVERY SERVICES AVAILABLE TO ALL WHO NEED THEM
 
Biden has long recognized and led on efforts to make clear that substance use disorders are diseases, not a lifestyle choice, and that we need to change how we talk about and treat substance use disorders to align with this fact.
 
He knows that the most important step we can take to address substance use disorders is to ensure that Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health care, including treatment for mental illnesses and substance use disorder. That’s why Biden has plan to build on the Affordable Care Act and achieve universal coverage. In addition, Biden will redouble efforts to ensure insurance companies stop discriminating against people with behavioral health conditions and instead provide the coverage for treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders that patients and families need. Congress passed a bipartisan parity law 12 years ago requiring that this discrimination stop, but the enforcement of parity has been insufficient. As Vice President, Biden championed efforts to implement the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. As President, he will finish the job by appointing officials who will hold insurers accountable, enforcing our parity laws to the fullest extent. He will also direct federal agencies to issue guidance making clear how state officials and the public can file a complaint when their insurers – or Medicaid – are not living up to their parity obligations.
 
In addition, Biden will work to make sure that people experiencing substance use disorders have access to quality facilities and providers. As President, he will ensure that the new public option, Medicare, Medicaid, the Indian Health Service, the Military Health System, and the Veterans Health Administration accelerate integration of substance use disorder care into standard health care practice. Biden will double funding for community health centers and expand the supply of health care providers, for example by growing the National Health Service Corps. And, he will protect rural hospitals from payment cuts, give them the flexibility they need to remain open, and invest in telehealth so people in remote areas can still have access to mental health and substance use disorder specialists.

Finally, Biden will make sure federal funds are specifically targeted at improving access to treatment and recovery for opioid and other substance use disorders, and at preventing these disorders in the first place. As Vice President, Biden championed passage of the 21st Century Cures Act, which included $1 billion in funding for states to address the opioid epidemic. That was a down payment. To deal with the immense scope of the opioid and substance use disorder crisis, Biden will dramatically scale up the resources available, with an unprecedented investment of $125 billion over ten years. Funds will be used to:

Pursue comprehensive strategies to expand access to treatment, particularly in rural and urban communities with high rates of substance use disorders and a lack of access to substance use disorder treatment services. Biden will invest $75 billion in flexible grants to states and localities for prevention, treatment, and recovery efforts. State and local agencies will also be able to use funds to enhance data systems allowing them to better target resources to individuals and communities most in need of support. As a condition for receiving funding, grant recipients will have to provide long-term, comprehensive strategic plans that address the multifaceted nature of the substance use disorder crisis. Funds may be used to:

Invest in evidence-based, cost-effective prevention programs in schools and communities to reduce the development of substance use disorders.

Mitigate harms from opioid and other drug use, including overdoses. Local communities will be able to use the funds to implement evidence-based programs designed to stop the spread of diseases like hepatitis C and HIV, including syringe service programs, or to scale up innovative programs like the safe station initiative started in Manchester, New Hampshire, which allows those seeking help to go to fire stations in order to be connected to treatment and recovery services.

Expand access to ongoing treatment and recovery services. Communities will be able to use funds to increase access to substance use disorder and mental health treatment and other services to support long-term recovery, including peer support networks and recovery coaches, and better integrate primary care and behavioral health. Recognizing the strong evidence that social supports, including family support, may have a positive impact on the treatment of HIV, Biden will support the development of family-centered models for substance use disorder treatment and recovery.

Make Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) available to all who need it, reaching universal access no later than 2025. MAT (also referred to as MOUD or Medications for Opioid Use Disorder) is regarded as the gold standard of care for individuals with opioid use disorder. Yet, less than 50% of substance use disorder facilities around the country offer even one of the FDA-approved medications. The 21st Century Cures Act, legislation Biden championed as Vice President, provided resources to states designed to expand access to MAT.  Biden will build on this in order to ensure universal access to MAT for all who need it, including by:

Providing $20 billion for grants to dramatically expand capacity to administer MAT across the country, especially in underserved areas, including establishing new facilities and developing training programs to increase the number of professionals able to administer MAT.

Stopping insurance companies from erecting barriers to coverage of MAT. For example, insurers have imposed “fail first” protocols which require prescribers to certify that other therapies were tried before covering MAT. Insurers also may require that physicians obtain “prior authorization” for MAT before prescribing it.   

Removing undue restrictions on prescribing medications for substance use disorder. For example, drugs containing buprenorphine were approved by the FDA in 2002 but a relatively small number of doctors or medical personnel are certified to prescribe them. Biden will ensure that any undue restrictions on prescribing are lifted and review methadone treatment regulations.

Help first responders and community health providers respond to overdoses. Biden will invest $10 billion to provide local communities with the tools needed to prevent overdoses and respond to emergencies emanating from this crisis. 

Ensure local communities have a sufficient supply of overdose prevention drugs. Naloxone (also known as Narcan) is a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose, making it a critical tool in the fight to save lives. Biden will expand grants to states for the purchase of Naloxone to be distributed to local community actors called upon to respond to overdoses, including first responders, public health providers, and the staff at homeless shelters and public libraries.

Demand that drug companies charge a fair price for overdose drugs, including Naloxone. The Biden Administration will aggressively negotiate a reduction in the drug’s price, on behalf of the federal government, and state and local communities.

Support first responders. Police officers and firefighters are often the first on the scene of an overdose. Biden will ensure they are equipped not just with naloxone, but also with the mental health and resilience support anyone would need after being exposed again and again to such trauma.

Invest in community-based prevention programs and a major public education effort to eliminate the stigma surrounding substance use disorder treatment. Biden will invest $5 billion in community-based prevention efforts and public education initiatives including training educators to recognize the signs of mental health problems and substance use disorders and refer them to appropriate services. Funds will also support evidence-based education programs for young people on mental health and substance use disorders.

Expand the pipeline of medical personnel to treat substance use disorders. Building on legislation like the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019, Biden will work with Congress to invest $5 billion to expand medical residencies and access to education and training for medical personnel in substance use disorder diagnosis and treatment. Funding will support training for primary care providers, as well as other members of the health care team, to build an integrated system of care.

Invest in research by doubling funding for the NIH HEAL (Helping to End Addiction Long-Term) Initiative. This $10 billion investment will support efforts to improve treatments for chronic pain.

Provide targeted interventions for particular populations. Biden will invest $10 billion in efforts specifically designed to support populations with unique situations or needs. Biden will ensure a portion of this funding for state and local governments is set aside for Tribal governments. In addition to expanding veterans’ access to substance use disorder and mental health treatment, Biden will direct his Secretary of Veterans Affairs to ensure VA medical personnel are sufficiently trained in safe prescribing practices and pain treatment. Biden will call upon the public health and criminal justice systems to provide evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, including MAT, for people during their incarceration and after their release. Finally, Biden will expand investments to help children suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome or Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome, and to ensure their mothers have access to effective treatment and care.


STOP OVERPRESCRIBING WHILE IMPROVING ACCESS TO EFFECTIVE AND NEEDED PAIN MANAGEMENT
 
An essential part of our national strategy to address the opioid epidemic must be stopping pharmaceutical companies’ practices that lead to overprescribing. Yet at the same time, physicians still must effectively treat pain. Chronic pain is a growing public health challenge with wide-ranging impacts: keeping individuals out of the workforce, negatively affecting their mental and physical health, contributing to suicidal ideation, and otherwise limiting their quality of life. Biden believes we need to pursue two joint goals: eliminate overprescribing of prescription opioids for pain, and improve the effectiveness of and access to alternative treatment for pain. Biden will:

Support development of less addictive pain medications and alternative pain treatments, and improve standards of quality for treatment. We need pain medications that are less addictive and more effective. Biden will invest in NIH research to develop these new medications. By doubling funding for NIH’s HEAL program, Biden will accelerate research regarding alternative treatments and therapies and help providers and patients better understand the options and access alternatives. And, he will direct the FDA to give priority to new pain medications with a documented reduced risk of addiction. 

Expand coverage for alternative pain treatments. As documented in a recent study related to back pain, some non-pharmacological pain interventions (e.g., psychological counseling, acupuncture, physical therapy, or occupational therapy) are not consistently covered or have administrative barriers to coverage (e.g., pre-authorization, visit limits). In accordance with evidence-based medicine, Biden will call for a requirement that Medicare, Medicaid, his proposed new public option, and private insurance companies consistently and transparently cover alternatives to opioids for chronic pain, without barriers such as prior authorization or high levels of cost-sharing.

Crack down on misleading advertising regarding substance use disorder treatment facilities with no basis in evidence. Biden will ensure that the Federal Trade Commission and the FDA act when companies try to mislead. He will appoint leaders of both agencies who will make this a key priority.

Provide training to medical personnel in pain management and substance use disorder treatment. Building on the Obama-Biden Administration’s prior efforts, Biden will direct the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to work with the medical community to support research and the development of curricula and training regarding pain management. He will ensure that the systematic study of pain management and substance use disorder is a mandatory part of the curricula and material on which doctors and other medical personnel are tested. Those seeking a federal DEA license to prescribe controlled substances will be required to receive training on proper prescribing guidelines and pain management.

Expand the effectiveness of monitoring programs designed to prevent inappropriate overprescribing of opioids. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are electronic databases designed to prevent drug abuse. For example, a provider can check the database before prescribing in order to determine whether his or her patient has been getting the same prescription from multiple providers. In order to receive any of the $125 billion in new grants under the Biden Administration, states will have to institute a requirement that every prescriber checks the database every time they write a new opioid prescription. Biden will also set aside some of these grant dollars to ensure states improve Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs data-sharing across state lines.

Ensure regular updating of the Centers for Disease the Control and Prevention (CDC) prescriber guideline based on the best available evidence. The CDC has issued a guideline to help prescribers make evidence-based decisions regarding when and how to prescribe opioids in order to minimize the risk of abuse while also effectively treating pain. Biden will ask the CDC to commit to regularly updating these guidelines as new evidence emerges regarding opioid abuse risk factors and alternative pain treatments. And, he will partner with health care providers and states to maximize providers’ awareness and use of the guideline.

 
REFORM THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM SO THAT NO ONE IS INCARCERATED FOR DRUG USE ALONE
 
Biden has released a criminal justice plan that will strengthen America’s commitment to justice and reform our criminal justice system by building a system focused on redemption and rehabilitation. Biden believes that no one should be incarcerated for drug use alone, and as President he will treat drug use as a disease rather than a crime. Specifically, Biden will:

End all incarceration for drug use alone and instead divert individuals to drug courts and treatment. Biden will require federal courts to divert these individuals to drug courts so they receive appropriate treatment and services. He’ll incentivize states to put the same requirements in place. And, he’ll expand funding for federal, state, and local drug courts and other programs that divert individuals who commit crimes as a result of or in furtherance of substance use disorders to treatment rather than incarceration. 

Get people who should be supported with social services – instead of in our prisons  – connected to the help they need. Too often, those in need of mental health care or treatment for a substance use disorder do not get the care that they need. Instead, they end up having interactions with law enforcement that lead to incarceration. To change the nature of these interactions, the Biden Administration will fund initiatives to partner mental health and substance use disorder experts, social workers, and disability advocates with police departments. These service providers will respond to calls with police officers so individuals who should not be in the criminal justice system are diverted to treatment for substance use disorder or mental illness, when appropriate, or are provided with the housing or other social services they may need.

Read more about Biden’s plan to reform the criminal justice system at https://joebiden.com/justice/.
 
STEM THE FLOW OF ILLICIT DRUGS LIKE FENTANYL, ESPECIALLY FROM CHINA AND MEXICO
 
As part of a comprehensive agenda that prioritizes prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction, Biden believes that part of the solution to the opioid crisis involves preventing bad actors from smuggling opioids and other illicit drugs into our country. Specifically, Biden will:

Make fentanyl a top priority in our dealings with China. The Treasury Department has already sanctioned a small number of Chinese nationals in connection with fentanyl – it’s a good start, but going after individuals will not alter Beijing’s thinking long-term. Biden will pressure Beijing to crack down on illicit fentanyl production in China and stem the flow of the drug into the United States. Biden will also develop regional strategies in the Asia-Pacific and the Americas to deal with shifts in the routes and sources of fentanyl in response to a Chinese crackdown.

Enhance cooperation with Mexican authorities to disrupt the movement of heroin and fentanyl across the U.S.-Mexico border.  Chinese fentanyl is frequently transshipped through Mexico, and then smuggled across the border in pure form or combined with heroin. As China takes steps to police fentanyl and its precursors, production and distribution will increasingly shift to Mexico. Biden will pursue strong, sustained cooperation with Mexican authorities to disrupt suppliers and supply routes, including the importation of precursor chemicals from China. The Biden Administration will also provide technical assistance to enhance the Mexican Post Service’s (SEPOMEX) ability to detect and electronically track shipments of fentanyl and precursors that come through Mexico. As President, Biden will repair the damage to U.S.-Mexico ties inflicted by Donald Trump and develop a common agenda with Mexico that looks beyond our shared border to promote our shared prosperity and protect U.S. national security interests.

Enforce sanctions on international actors engaged in the trafficking of illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl. Biden’s Treasury Department sanctions team will map the financial institutions and networks that facilitate the distribution of fentanyl and key precursors and develop sanctions packages based on that evidence and task the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to support these efforts with a focus on illicit finance.

Increase cooperation among global law enforcement agencies. Biden will direct U.S. law enforcement agencies to work closely with foreign counterparts, share threat information, and use technology to assist in tracking and seizing illicit shipments.

Ensure federal agencies have the tools and resources they need to stop the flow of fentanyl from abroad. Fentanyl producers have exploited gaps in monitoring through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to flood the U.S. with the deadly product. Biden will give the USPS the tools and resources it needs to carry out that mandate and disrupt the large supplies of fentanyl that are sent through the mail system, working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In addition, the vast majority of opioids and fentanyl are shipped through legal ports of entry—not in between them. Rather than waste resources building a wall or tearing families apart, Biden will direct resources to the ports of entry to interdict opioid shipments there.

Combating the Opioid Epidemic and Substance Use Disorders, Paid for By Making Sure Pharma Pays Its Fair Share
 
Biden’s $125 billion investment in a comprehensive response to the opioid epidemic and substance use disorders is paid for by raising taxes on the profits of pharmaceutical corporations.

Democratic Candidates for 2020: Biden Releases Plan for ‘Investing in Our Communities through Housing’

Vice President Joe Biden, running for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president, has released his plan for investing in communities through housing, “a right, not a privilege.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The vigorous contest of Democrats seeking the 2020 presidential nomination has produced excellent policy proposals to address major issues. Vice President Joe Biden has released his plan for investing in communities through housing, “a right, not a privilege.” This is from the Biden Campaign:

Joe Biden is running for President to rebuild the middle class and ensure that this time everyone comes along. He believes the middle class isn’t a number, but a value set which includes the ability to own your own home and live in a safe community. Housing should be a right, not a privilege.
 
Today, however, far too many Americans lack access to affordable and quality housing. Nationwide, we have a shortage of available, affordable housing units for low-income individuals. Tens of millions of Americans spend more than 30% of their income on housing – leaving them with nowhere near enough money left over to meet other needs, from groceries to prescription drugs. And, tens of millions of Americans live in homes that endanger their health and safety.
 
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by the failures in our housing markets, with homeownership rates for Black and Latino individuals falling far below the rate for white individuals. Because home ownership is how many families save and build wealth, these racial disparities in home ownership contribute to the racial wealth gap. It is far past time to put an end to systemic housing discrimination and other contributors to this disparity.
 
As President, Joe Biden will invest $640 billion over 10 years so every American has access to housing that is affordable, stable, safe and healthy, accessible, energy efficient and resilient, and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs. Biden will do this by:

Ending redlining and other discriminatory and unfair practices in the housing market.

Providing financial assistance to help hard-working Americans buy or rent safe, quality housing, including down payment assistance through a refundable and advanceable tax credit and fully funding federal rental assistance.

Increasing the supply, lowering the cost, and improving the quality of housing, including through investments in resilience, energy efficiency, and accessibility of homes.

Pursuing a comprehensive approach to ending homelessness. 

Housing is an essential part of Biden’s broader strategy to grow strong, healthy communities in every zip code – from his plan to rebuild our nation’s infrastructure and revitalize local economies to his plan to invest in our public schools.
 

The Biden Principles for Housing
 
While the housing challenges Americans face in different rural and urban communities across the country may vary, every American in every zip code should have access to housing that is: affordable – taking up no more than 30% of income so they have money left over to meet other needs; stable – providing families with the consistency they need to maintain jobs, perform well in school, and develop social networks necessary for well-being; safe and healthy – protecting families from environmental and social risks from polluted air to lead contamination to gun violence; accessible – meeting the needs of individuals with disabilities so they can live in their communities; energy efficient and resilient – reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and withstanding the impacts of climate change; and located near good schools and with a reasonable commute to their jobs.

 
END REDLINING AND OTHER DISCRIMINATORY AND UNFAIR PRACTICES IN THE HOUSING MARKET

Protect homeowners and renters from abusive lenders and landlords through a new Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights. Modeled on the California Homeowner Bill of Rights, Biden will enact legislation to end many shortcomings in the mortgage and rental markets. This new Bill of Rights will prevent mortgage brokers from leading borrowers into loans that cost more than appropriate, prevent mortgage servicers from advancing a foreclosure when the homeowner is in the process of receiving a loan modification, give homeowners a private right of action to seek financial redress from mortgage lenders and servicers that violate these protections, and give borrowers the right to a timely notification on the status of their loan modifications and to be able to appeal modification denials. Building on the Obama-Biden Administration’s Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, the Bill of Rights will also expand protections for renters. For example, the Bill of Rights will include a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against renters receiving federal housing benefits. 

Protect tenants from eviction. Housing evictions can have devastating consequences for families and often stem from relatively small shortfalls in rent. As a former public defender, Biden appreciates the difference legal representation can make for those facing eviction. As President, he will work to enact Majority Whip James E. Clyburn and Senator Michael Bennet’s Legal Assistance to Prevent Evictions Act of 2020, which will help tenants facing eviction access legal assistance. He also will encourage localities to create eviction diversion programs, including mediation, payment plans, and financial literacy education programs.

Eliminate local and state housing regulations that perpetuate discrimination. Exclusionary zoning has for decades been strategically used to keep people of color and low-income families out of certain communities. As President, Biden will enact legislation requiring any state receiving federal dollars through the Community Development Block Grants or Surface Transportation Block Grants to develop a strategy for inclusionary zoning, as proposed in the HOME Act of 2019 by Majority Whip Clyburn and Senator Cory Booker. Biden will also invest $300 million in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to eliminate exclusionary zoning policies and other local regulations that contribute to sprawl.

Hold financial institutions accountable for discriminatory practices in the housing market. The Obama-Biden Administration held major national financial institutions accountable for discriminatory lending practices, securing hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements to help borrowers who had been harmed by their practices. And in 2013, the Obama-Biden Administration codified a long-standing, court-supported view that lending practices that have a discriminatory effect can be challenged even if discrimination was not explicit. But now the Trump Administration is seeking to gut this disparate impact standard by significantly increasing the burden of proof for those claiming discrimination. In the Biden Administration, this change will be reversed to ensure financial institutions are held accountable for serving all customers.

Strengthen and expand the Community Reinvestment Act to ensure that our nation’s bank and non-bank financial services institutions are serving all communities. The Community Reinvestment Act currently regulates banks, but does little to ensure that “fintechs” and non-bank lenders are providing responsible access to all members of the community. On top of that gap, the Trump Administration is proposing to weaken the law by allowing lenders to receive a passing rating even if the lenders are excluding many neighborhoods and borrowers. Biden will expand the Community Reinvestment Act to apply to mortgage and insurance companies, to add a requirement for financial services institutions to provide a statement outlining their commitment to the public interest, and, importantly, to close loopholes that would allow these institutions to avoid lending and investing in all of the communities they serve.

Roll back Trump Administration policies gutting fair lending and fair housing protections for homeowners. Biden will implement the Obama-Biden Administration’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule requiring communities receiving certain federal funding to proactively examine housing patterns and identify and address policies that have a discriminatory effect. The Trump Administration suspended this rule in 2018. Biden will ensure effective and rigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. And, he will reinstate the federal risk-sharing program which has helped secure financing for thousands of affordable rental housing units in partnership with housing finance agencies.  

Restore the federal government’s power to enforce settlements against discriminatory lenders. The Trump Administration has stripped the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity, a division of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of its power to enforce settlements against lenders found to have discriminated against borrowers – for example by charging significantly higher interest rates for people of color than white individuals. Biden will return power to the division so it can protect consumers from discrimination.

Tackle racial bias that leads to homes in communities of color being assessed by appraisers below their fair value. Housing in communities primarily comprised of people of color is valued at tens of thousands of dollars below majority-white communities even when all other factors are the same, contributing to the racial wealth gap. To counteract this racial bias, Biden will establish a national standard for housing appraisals that ensures appraisers have adequate training and a full appreciation for neighborhoods and do not hold implicit biases because of a lack of community understanding. An objective national standard for appraisals will also make it harder for financial institutions to put pressure on appraisers to their benefit.

PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO HELP HARD-WORKING AMERICANS BUY OR RENT QUALITY HOUSING

Help families buy their first homes and build wealth by creating a new refundable, advanceable tax credit of up to $15,000. Biden’s new First Down Payment Tax Credit will help families offset the costs of homebuying and help millions of families lay down roots for the first time. Building off of a temporary tax credit expanded as part of the Recovery Act, this tax credit will be permanent and advanceable, meaning that homebuyers receive the tax credit when they make the purchase instead of waiting to receive the assistance when they file taxes the following year.

Provide Section 8 housing vouchers to every eligible family so that no one has to pay more than 30% of their income for rental housing. Roughly three in four households eligible for Section 8 rental assistance do not receive housing assistance because the program is underfunded. Biden’s approach is straightforward: the Section 8 rental housing assistance program should be fully funded so that everyone eligible gets the assistance they need to pay their rent for a safe home. Biden will devote resources to both voucher-based rental assistance and the project-based program. Over time, this approach will provide assistance to at least 17 million low-income families. And, as part of the Homeowner and Renter Bill of Rights, Biden will enact a law prohibiting landlords from discriminating against renters receiving federal housing benefits. 

Create a new renter’s tax credit to help more low-income families. Biden will work with Congress to enact a new renter’s tax credit, designed to reduce rent and utilities to 30% of income for low-income individuals and families who may make too much money to qualify for a Section 8 voucher but still struggle to pay their rent. He will allocate $5 billion in federal funding for the tax credit every year.

Expand housing benefits for first-responders, public school educators, and other public and national service workers who commit to living in persistently impoverished communities or who work in neighborhoods with low affordable housing stock. Biden will expand the Good Neighbor Next Door program, which is designed to help strengthen communities that have experienced significant underinvestment and high rates of poverty while also providing opportunities for first responders, educators, and those engaged in national service to purchase homes in those same communities. Specifically, Biden will expand the program through additional down-payment assistance, partnering with state housing agencies, tribal governments, local governments, and state/local banks to offer the program’s existing significant discount on the price of a home on a larger pool of homes, and providing access to a low-interest loan to rehabilitate these homes. And, he will ensure these resources are also available to public servants who work in neighborhoods with low affordable housing stock.

Create the Public Credit Reporting Agency. Being able to obtain a credit report is a critical step for homeownership. But today credit reports, which are issued by just three large private companies, are rife with problems: they often contain errors, they leave many credit invisible due to the sources used to generate a credit score, and they contribute to racial disparities. Biden will create a new public credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide consumers with a government option that seeks to minimize racial disparities, for example by ensuring the algorithms used for credit scoring don’t have a discriminatory impact, and by accepting non-traditional sources of data like rental history and utility bills to establish credit.

Reducing Greenhouse Gases and Lowering Working Families’ Electricity Bills
 
As Biden announced in his climate plan, he will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. In addition to the $10 billion retrofitting fund described below, other policies he will pursue to reduce the carbon footprint of residential buildings include: Directing the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to make housing for low-income communities more efficient. Directing the U.S. Department of Energy to redouble efforts to accelerate new efficiency standards for household appliances and equipment. Repairing and accelerating the building code process, and creating a new funding mechanism for states and cities to adopt strict building codes and train builders and inspectors.  Read Biden’s full plan to address the climate emergency at joebiden.com/climate.

 
INCREASE THE SUPPLY, LOWER THE COST, AND IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF HOUSING

Establish a $100 billion Affordable Housing Fund to construct and upgrade affordable housing.

$65 billion in new incentives for state housing authorities and the Indian Housing Block Grant program to construct or rehabilitate low-cost, efficient, resilient, and accessible housing in areas where affordable housing is in short supply. These funds will be directed toward communities that are suffering from an affordability crisis and that are willing to implement new zoning laws that encourage more affordable housing.

$10 billion to make homes more energy efficient. This retrofitting will lower families’ energy bills, create jobs for workers in the trades in every state in the nation, and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

$5 billion to increase the stock of affordable housing as part of larger community development efforts. Specifically, these funds will expand the HOME program, ensuring that the program’s requirements are more conducive to supporting first-time homebuyers, and the Capital Magnet Fund, which spurs private investment in affordable housing and economic development in distressed communities. Among other uses, localities can use these funds to purchase vacant, underdeveloped, or underutilized property and construct affordable housing.

Increase funding for the Housing Trust Fund by $20 billion. Biden will increase the availability of affordable housing through the Housing Trust Fund, paid for by an increase in the assessment on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. These additional dollars will support the construction and rehabilitation of affordable housing units.  

Provide tax incentives for the construction of more affordable housing in communities that need it most. As President, Biden will expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit – a tax provision designed to incentivize the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income tenants that has created nearly 3 million affordable housing units since the mid-1980s – with a $10 billion investment. This investment will be designed to make the credit more efficient, dramatically increasing the number of new or rehabilitated affordable housing units. And, he will ensure that urban, suburban, and rural areas all benefit from the credit. Biden will also invest in the development and rehabilitation of single family homes across distressed urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods through the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act.

Invest in community development. In addition to the community development Biden is proposing as part of his infrastructure initiative, he will also expand flexible funding for the Community Development Block Grant by $10 billion over ten years. The Community Development Block Grant funds local efforts to expand affordable housing, improve infrastructure, and increase economic opportunities for low-income individuals and communities. These funds are flexible federal grants that localities receive to deal with their specific challenges and support stabilization and infrastructure.

Eliminate local and state housing regulations that limit affordable housing options and contribute to urban sprawl. Housing policy can be used as a tool to battle climate change. Many lower- and middle-income Americans are forced to live far away from job centers due to high housing costs, leading not only to workers being overburdened by long commutes and transportation costs, but also to higher greenhouse gas emissions. Biden will tie new federal investments in housing to a requirement that states and localities eliminate regulations that reduce the availability of affordable housing and contribute to sprawl. He will direct his Secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Transportation to identify existing federal grant programs that can be amended by adding zoning reform as a requirement. And, Biden will expand investments in Local Housing Policy Grants to give states and localities the technical assistance and planning support they need to modernize housing regulations.

Ensure minority-owned businesses benefit from investment in housing construction and repair. To further support wealth creation among Black and Latino families, Biden will require his Administration to take all available steps to make sure minority-owned businesses are able to benefit from ongoing and new federal housing and infrastructure spending.

Use federal transit dollars to leverage local investment in transit and affordable housing
 
Smart transit and regional planning policies are essential for ensuring access to affordable housing, avoiding sprawl, improving quality of life by reducing the distance between living and leisure areas, and mitigating climate change. To meet these goals, Biden will ensure a portion of new federal transit dollars are designed to leverage local investment in both transit and affordable housing in transit corridors. Biden has proposed the following new transit investments: Offer tens of millions of Americans new transportation options. Outside major cities, most Americans do not have access to high-quality, reliable public transportation; and within urban areas, it’s often in need of repair. As a result, workers and families rely on cars, which can be a big financial burden, clog roadways, and –  along with light-duty trucks – significantly increase U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. As President, Biden will aim to provide all Americans in municipalities of more than 100,000 people with quality public transportation by 2030. To that end, he’ll increase flexible federal investments, helping cities and towns to install light rail networks and to improve existing transit and bus lines. He’ll also help them to invest in infrastructure for pedestrians, cyclists, and riders of e-scooters and other micro-mobility vehicles. And, Biden will work to make sure that new, fast-growing areas are designed and built with public transit in mind. Specifically, he will create a new program that gives rapidly expanding communities the resources to build in public transit options from the start. Reduce congestion by working with metropolitan regions to plan smarter growth. Biden will empower city, county, regional, and state leaders to explore new, smarter, climate-friendly strategies to help reduce average commute times and build more vibrant main streets. Specifically, Biden will create a competitive grant program to help leaders rethink and redesign regional transportation systems, to get commuters where they are going safer, faster, and more efficiently. At the same time, Biden will boost highway funding by 10% and allocate the new funding to states that embrace smart climate design and pollution reduction, incentivizing them to invest in greenhouse gas reduction. States will also be free to use existing highway funding for alternative transportation options. Connect workers to jobs. For too many low-income workers, the cost of transportation and time it takes them to commute to work every day are significant barriers. As President, Biden will dedicate an additional $10 billion over 10 years specifically for transit projects that serve high-poverty areas with limited transportation options, so that workers seeking a better life won’t have to spend as much getting to their jobs.  Read Biden’s full infrastructure plan at joebiden.com/infrastructure.

Ensure rural communities have access to affordable and accessible homes. The Biden Administration will increase funding for needed repairs of affordable rental housing properties and construction of new property through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service, including the Multi-Family Direct Loans and the Single Family Direct Loans programs, which support the construction of housing for low income, disabled, or elderly individuals in rural communities. Majority Whip Clyburn’s 10-20-30 plan has already been applied to a number of Rural Development programs in order to ensure a portion of funds are dedicated to serving families living in areas facing persistent poverty. As President, Biden will apply the 10-20-30 plan to all federal programs.

Expand funding for mission-driven, community-based financial institutions that invest in building new housing in underserved areas. As part of his plan to reinvest in communities across the country, including in rural areas, Biden will expand funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which supports local, “mission-driven” financial institutions in low-income areas around the U.S. – including those invested in building new housing in underserved areas.

Drive additional capital into low-income communities to spur the development of low-income housing. The New Markets Tax Credit has drawn in $8 of private investment for every $1 of federal investment in low-income communities by providing tax credits to investors in community development organizations that support everything from supermarkets to real estate projects to manufacturing plants. Biden will expand the program to provide $5 billion in support every year, and will make the program permanent so communities can take the credit into account in their long-term planning.

For all of these new housing investments, those receiving assistance will be required to abide by Davis-Bacon Act wage requirements so that jobs created with these investments support family sustaining wages and benefits. And, the Biden Administration will encourage the use of resources and materials that are sourced domestically, as well as the use of project labor agreements.
 

Guarantee safe housing for our military families
 
The government has broken its trust with military families by providing sub-par housing. Now, we have to work twice as hard to rebuild this trust. That will require the utmost transparency and accountability from both the government and the private sector partners charged with housing the families of our service members. The Biden Administration will: Enforce a comprehensive and standardized tenant Bill of Rights for all military families, and as advocates have rightly demanded, ensure U.S. Department of Defense senior leadership enforces compliance. We won’t be making more empty promises to military families. We will hold these landlords, and ourselves, accountable. Require regular, standardized, objective, and published reporting of military family satisfaction and concerns from all housing. Establish a public-facing document outlining expectations of quality and consequences for all housing providers and, when necessary, terminate long-term leases held by private companies.  
Read Biden’s full plan for military families at joebiden.com/militaryfamilies.

 
PURSUE A COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO ENDING HOMELESSNESS

Develop a national strategy for making housing a right for all. Biden believes everyone should have the right to a safe roof over their head. On the first day of his Administration, he will direct his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to lead a task force of mayors and other local elected officials to put on his desk within 100 days a roadmap for making this right a reality nationwide. Mayors and local elected officials are on the front lines of tackling homelessness, so Biden will use their expertise to help the federal government identify best practices that should be replicated across the country.

Provide emergency funding designed to tackle the homelessness crisis. Biden will work with Congress to secure passage of Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ Ending Homelessness Act. This bill funds a comprehensive, holistic strategy to ending homelessness, including everything from case management to emergency shelters to additional housing vouchers for homeless individuals. In total, this law will invest $13 billion to tackle homelessness over five years, including $5 billion for McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants, and the law will create more than 400,000 additional housing units for homeless individuals. In addition, Biden will ensure part of this grant funding is specifically targeted to assist homeless children and young adults.

Reform federal housing programs to ensure they take a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. The Trump Administration has demonstrated acceptance of a worldview that housing and food should be withheld until homeless individuals tackle challenges such as addiction and mental illness. This view isn’t just inhumane, it defies the evidence regarding what works. More and more evidence is making clear that a “housing first” approach – “guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues” – is an effective strategy for reducing homelessness. So, while the Biden Administration will pursue a comprehensive strategy addressing homelessness’ underlying causes – from making sure everyone has access to quality mental health and addiction support, to increasing the minimum wage and expanding workforce training, to changing the culture so more LGBTQ teenagers are accepted in their homes – President Biden will make sure our country commits to a “housing first” approach to ending homelessness. In his first 100 days, Biden will direct his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to conduct a full review of federal housing policies to make sure they pursue and incentivize the “housing first” approach. The Secretary will identify all ways in which homelessness assistance grants can further support rapid re-housing and long-term supportive housing. Supportive housing has been found to have positive long-term impacts, and rapid re-housing has been shown to lead to quick exits from homelessness.

Reduce homelessness among veterans. The Obama-Biden Administration cut the population of homeless veterans by almost half. But with just over 23,000 veterans without shelter on any given night, we have much more work to do. Biden will work with Congress to continue to drive down veteran homelessness by permanently authorizing the Supportive Services for Veterans Families program, which provides critical funding for wrap-around services for those facing homelessness. President Biden will also work to ensure that we better understand the unique needs of women and LGBTQ veterans experiencing homelessness. And, he will create safe, modern, clean, and recovery-oriented housing for veterans being treated for substance use disorders and those who are homeless by refurbishing buildings condemned or not in use, such as the massive VA Los Angeles campus. Read Biden’s full plan to support our veterans at joebiden.com/veterans.

Protect LGBTQ individuals. The Obama-Biden Administration enforced the civil rights of the LGBTQ community, including by ensuring federally funded homeless shelters provide housing according to an individual’s gender identity and cannot refuse services based on gender identity or sexual orientation. The Trump Administration has since proposed allowing shelters to discriminate against transgender people when determining their accommodations, for example by forcing transgender women to sleep and use the bathroom in the same place as men. As President, Biden will secure the passage of the Equality Act, ensuring that no President can ever again single-handedly roll back civil rights protections for LGBTQ individuals, including in housing and homeless shelters. And, he will increase funding for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act to ensure LGBTQ individuals have access to transitional living programs that provide essential services like job counseling and mental and physical health care.

Expand access to supportive housing and services for individuals with disabilities and the elderly. A Biden Administration will increase the availability of supportive and accessible housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities, including through the Supportive Housing for the Elderly (“Section 202”) and Supportive Housing for Individuals with Disabilities (“Section 811”) programs. Biden also will increase resources for mental health services and substance use disorder treatment, including through the Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness program.

Set a national goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals have housing upon reentry. If incarcerated individuals do not find housing upon reentry, that lack of housing can be completely destabilizing and limit their likelihood of successfully staying out of the criminal justice system and fulfilling their potential. Biden will work toward a goal of ensuring 100% of formerly incarcerated individuals – at the federal and state level – have housing upon release. He’ll start by eliminating barriers keeping formerly incarcerated individuals from accessing public assistance, including housing support. He’ll direct the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to only contract with entities that are open to housing individuals looking for a second chance. And, he’ll expand funding for transitional housing, which has been drastically cut under the Trump Administration.

Ensure survivors of domestic and sexual violence have safe, affordable housing
 
Biden has put forward a comprehensive plan to strengthen social supports for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and human trafficking, including helping victims secure housing, gain economic stability, and recover from the trauma of abuse. The U.S. Conference of Mayors has identified domestic violence as a top driver of family homelessness, and research points to domestic violence as a key cause of homelessness for many women. And, domestic violence survivors and their children often live in unstable housing conditions, such as with relatives or friends in crowded and potentially exploitative conditions or returning to abusive partners. Research demonstrates that providing flexibility in eligibility, services, and support helps survivors feel safer and rebuild their lives after violence.
 
The Biden plan will cut through the red tape that can slow down assistance and limit options for survivors. Specifically, Biden will: Establish a new coordinated housing initiative. Current federal housing programs are insufficient for meeting the needs of domestic and sexual violence survivors. Biden will bring federal agencies together to create a comprehensive housing grant program tailored to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. This grant program will include flexible funding to support the practical needs of survivors; advocacy with landlords and housing agencies to keep victims in housing; supportive services including legal assistance, child care, and employment training; new permanent housing vouchers; increased funding for the VAWA transitional housing program; and home ownership opportunities. Expand access to housing assistance. Biden will strengthen the VAWA housing provisions, for example by making it easier for victims to retain their federal housing subsidy when needed for safety reasons. Protect survivors from housing discrimination. The Fair Housing Act protects women from gender discrimination in public and private housing, including survivors who may be unfairly evicted from housing because of domestic violence. The Trump Administration proposed rolling back Fair Housing protections by making it harder to prove disparate impact claims and allowing landlords and banks to use discriminatory practices. The Biden Administration will vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act. VAWA also protects survivors from discrimination in subsidized housing and allows survivors to transfer to new units if necessary for safety. But red tape makes these provisions challenging to implement. The Biden plan will make it easier for survivors to transfer their housing assistance and move to a new home so that they can be safe.  
Read Biden’s full plan to end violence against women at joebiden.com/VAWA.

 
Investing In Our Housing to Grow the Middle Class, Paid for by Making Sure Corporations Pay Their Fair Share
 
Biden’s $640 billion investment in America’s housing is paid for by raising taxes on corporations and large financial institutions. Specifically, approximately $300 billion of the housing plan is devoted to new construction and is encompassed in the $1.3 trillion infrastructure plan. The remaining portion is paid for by instituting a financial fee on certain liabilities of firms with over $50 billion in assets.