Biden announces new policy efforts aimed at black voters

(Reuters) – Presumptive Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign on Monday unveiled a broad policy targeted toward helping reduce racial wealth and health gaps among new policies aimed at reaching black voters.

As part of the wide-ranging plans, the former vice president pledged to open a new Public Credit Reporting Agency that could compete with Equifax Inc, Experian Plc and TransUnion and, according to the campaign, minimize racial disparities in lending.

“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 disparities, widening the African American homeownership gap,” Biden’s campaign said in a statement.

The former vice president also promised a new tax credit for first-time homeowners, $900 million over eight years to finance efforts to save 12,000 lives in high-crime cities as well as to expand the Small Business Administration’s efforts to lend money to African American-owned enterprises. Advocates say that few of those businesses have been able to tap federal relief programs during the coronavirus outbreak due to discriminatory lending practices.

Biden is looking to unseat Republican President Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election. Black voters were critical in helping Biden overcome early losses in his party’s primary to become Democrats’ presumptive nominee. The heavily Democratic ethnic group is also considered indispensable in Biden’s effort to win against Trump.

Biden is also eager to win over the most liberal wing of his party. Voters who favored candidates including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders favored more restraints on banking and the financial services industry. The policies announced on Monday include an expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act, a fair-lending law governing banks, to include mortgage and insurance companies.

The 22-page Biden policy proposal includes some policies the campaign previously announced with new initiatives that the campaign said could help erase the gap between black and white Americans in terms of wealth, income, education, criminal justice and health.

A Biden campaign official said the candidate would be working to introduce more relevant policies on environmental issues and other areas of concern to black voters in coming weeks.

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