June 15 (UPI) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden released a plan Monday for reducing systemic racial disparities for African Americans in his campaign for president.
"Race-neutral policies are not a sufficient response to race-based disparities. We need to tackle systemic racism head-on and ensure everyone has a fair shot at the American dream," Biden tweeted Monday.
The plan addressees economic disparities and small-business access to credit, as well as inequality in health and housing across the United States. It also calls for universal broadband access and a federal review of systematic misconduct in local police departments and prosecutors' offices.
Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee to challenge GOP President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, calls for more COVID-19 rescue funds for businesses with fewer than 50 employees and to boost the ability of churches to apply for non-profit group loans in the Paycheck Protection Program.
The pandemic rescue program, which dispersed $511 billion in small-business loans, left smaller and minority-owned businesses behind, according to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending.
The plan would also shore up Obama-era protections for minority firms that bid on government contracts, including "unbundling" federal bids, a practice which shuts out smaller bidders, he said.
Biden also proposes a onetime $15,000 first-time home-buying tax credit, applied at the time of purchase, and a national standard for home appraisals to counter lower appraisal values in non-white neighborhoods. Biden also proposes a return of Obama-era housing discrimination legal protections.
Because many front-line "essential" workers in the COVID-19 pandemic are people of color, Biden's plan calls for improved virus testing, federal workplace safety standards and premium pay and paid sick leave for front-line employees. The plan also calls for a national minimum wage of $15 per hour.
Biden's education plan calls for subsidies of up to $18 billion for secondary education institutions identified as historically black and minority-serving universities that could subsidize two years of tuition each for lower-income and middle-class students.
Biden has committed to picking a woman as his vice presidential running-mate. Women of color are among the possibilities, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, Florida U.S. Rep. Val Demings and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.Trump criticized Biden in a tweet Monday.
"I've done more in less than 4 years than Biden's done in more than 40 years, including for Black America," Trump tweeted. "Biden has been a part of every failed decision for decades. Bad Trade Deals, Endless Wars, you name it, he has shown a complete lack of leadership. He's weak & shot!!!"
Trump has pointed out how his administration has boosted funding of historically black colleges and universities and that pre-pandemic unemployment numbers for African Americans were historically low.
In his 2016 campaign, Trump told black voters that Democrats "take you for granted."
Trump rescheduled his first post-COVID campaign rally from the Juneteenth holiday in Tulsa, Okla., the site of a massacre of African Americans in 1921.
"[We're] changing the date out of respect for the holiday, and in observance of this important occasion and all that it represents," Trump said.