TThe massacre of innocents was just the beginning, Joe Biden explained. African Americans in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would be excluded from home ownership, see a highway being built through their community, and suffer from a chronic underinvestment by the government.
“This story is not about loss of life, but about loss of life, of wealth and prosperity and the possibilities that still resonate today.” The president of the United States he said during a visit to mark the centenary of an attack by a white mob that left up to 300 dead.
He continued to offer hope, announcing increased efforts to narrow the racial wealth gap that has proven to be generational in Tulsa and many other cities. But a day later, Biden found himself back in Washington, haggling behind closed doors over a legislative proposal that could make or break his promise to correct this systemic mistake.
When unveiled in March, the $ 2.3 trillion US Employment Plan fulfilled Biden’s campaign promise by proposing to promote racial equity in education, employment, health care, housing and transportation. It included $ 400 billion to create jobs and raise wages for millions of women of color who work as caregivers for the elderly and disabled.
But that’s precisely the kind of provision Republicans oppose, advocating a traditional definition of infrastructure like airports, bridges, railways, and highways alongside broadband internet.
During the negotiations, they already forced Biden to cut his proposal to $ 1.7 trillion. There is a fear that if the old way is any guide, Republicans will continue to undermine the same measures that benefit the most marginalized.
Yvette simpson, executive director of the progressive group Democracy for America, said: “We thought that the American Jobs Plan was already a compromise position and the Republicans are retreating even more.
“When you think about who has been the most affected by the pandemic, who is always the most affected in this country, it is the blacks and the brunettes. So if Republicans start gutting parts of this bill, the people who will be hit the hardest are the people who need it most, who are black and brown people. “
The Republican vision of infrastructure is too narrow, Simpson added. “I always say that Republicans love potholes more than people. They love bridges more than they love black lives. They care more about wealthy families than workers.
“Give them all they want and they won’t support you again, then you won’t be able to get through the most important things we need to fill the void when it comes to black and brown people in this country. We are talking about the care economy, human infrastructure, things that must stay in this bill and must stand firm on this bill.“
The typical white family in the United States has eight times the wealth of the typical black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family, according to Federal Reserve investigation.
In his Tulsa speech, urging the United States to confront disturbing truths about itself, Biden noted that the percentage of black homeowners is lower today than when the Fair Housing Act was passed more than half a century ago.
The president also used the occasion to promote the American Jobs Plan, what includes a $ 10 billion fund to support community-led civic infrastructure projects that create innovative shared services; $ 15 billion for new grants and technical assistance to retrofit existing transportation; a tax credit to attract private investment in affordable housing; and $ 31 billion to increase access to capital and provide technical assistance to disadvantaged small businesses.
Senate Republicans, however, are determined to narrow down infrastructure and propose spending a more modest $ 928 billion more than eight years. Biden has allegedly dismissed the counter offer as unfeasible, in part because it would be paid for with unused coronavirus relief funds; It would rather increase the corporate tax rate to generate revenue for its $ 1.7 trillion goal.
The White House set a June 7 deadline to see clear signs of progress in reaching an agreement. On Wednesday, the president, who has been described as an apostle of bipartisanship, spent nearly an hour in a private meeting with Shelley Moore Capito, the Republicans’ top negotiator in the Senate on infrastructure, trying to reach an agreement.
Capito has made his position clear. “We do not agree with the definition of infrastructure and have been working with the president to bring it back to the physical core idea of infrastructure that we have worked so well on in the past,” he told Fox News last Sunday. “Be it roads and bridges, waterways, ports, lead pipes, transit, airports and also the new infrastructure, which we must have everywhere: broadband. Those are big categories, I think, that we can work on together.
“I think it’s very easy to say, ‘Let’s throw it all out,’ and I think that’s what the president did initially. Human infrastructure, social infrastructure, great things to talk about, things we need to address: daycare, care for the elderly, all those elements. But that is not what we consider physical infrastructure or modernizing our transportation system to meet the challenges of the next century, and I think that is where we should focus our efforts at this time. “
Upgrading Physical Infrastructure Improvements downtown schools, Replacing lead pipes or reducing air pollution in Black and Latino neighborhoods near ports and power plants would be a welcome difference.
But Amara Enyia, The policy and research coordinator of the advocacy coalition of the Movement for Black Lives, argues that the framework of Capito and other Republicans will no longer be sufficient.
“It really doesn’t make sense to stick to that narrow definition, which only speaks to the fact that they are unwilling to deal with the challenges this country faces right now,” he said. “There are no people who work on roads, bridges and railways if people are not taking care of children or if people are not healthy.
“What we are seeing is trying to be creative and broaden the definition because we live in an unprecedented time where the challenges we face are not going to be addressed with interventions from the past or with solutions that may have worked for 10 years. 20 years ago, 30 years ago. “
Capito represents West Virginia, a state where Donald Trump overwhelmingly beat Biden and where the population is 93.5% White, 3.6% African American. The other senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin, is a conservative Democrat who could prove decisive if the party tries to pass the American Employment Plan without Republican support through a congressional process known as budget reconciliation, which requires a threshold. out of 51 votes in the Senate.
Some activists believe there is no alternative, as the Republicans’ refusal to even have a commission in the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising shows that they cannot be trusted. Maurice Mitchell, National Director of the Working Family Party (PMA), said: “That Republicans could not get to the ‘yes’ by studying a terrorist attack against themselves and their own staff speaks to the fact that, with this current Republican party, no they have bona fide negotiators and the Democrats should go it alone.
“The proposal that the Republicans shared was ridiculous in terms of scale. They can’t really be taken seriously when President Biden presents a $ 2.3 trillion package over eight years and they come back with just under a trillion that does not include the care economy at all and is basically a bridge and highway infrastructure package. ” .
Black voters were hailed as a central part of the coalition that elected Biden and urge him to hold the line.
The Biden administration insists it will not make concessions on the bill that undermine people of color. Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, said a briefing Thursday: “Addressing racial equity is central to the president’s initiatives, his commitments to rebuild our economy across the country, and he’s certainly not going to give that up.”
The president may be determined to learn lessons from history. He has suggested that the American Jobs Plan will bring about economic and social change on a scale as monumental as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s.
Roosevelt grandson james A former associate commissioner of social security in the Bill Clinton administration, said: “As we now know from history, the New Deal programs did not meet the racial equity needs of the entire country, in large part because to get them passed Congress, FDR had to build a coalition that included very powerful Southern segregationist congressmen and senators.
“Joe Biden has a very small majority in both houses of Congress, so he is negotiating and it is his bipartisan nature. However, he has a real awareness of the needs of racial justice, so if you look at the latest negotiations between President Biden and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on behalf of the Republicans, the focus is on how heavy the burden will be. tax in various corporate sectors. There is no way to stop being anti-racist. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism