Building an Inclusive Middle Class
One of the key issues in this 2020 election is taking on the inequalities that are causing too many in America today to question the ability of our democracy to deliver for them. That’s why I am committed to rebuilding the backbone of America, our middle class, and to making sure that our economy rewards work, not wealth. But this time, we must make sure that people historically left out of the middle class--whether due to race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or religion --have the chance to be included in our success.
Today, the poverty rate for black Americans is still twice what it is for white Americans, and black children who are born poor are nearly twice as likely to stay poor as white children. The unemployment rate for black people is still significantly higher than for white people. We’re starting to make some progress to close that gap, but not enough. Racial disparities are so pervasive in our society that they’re literally part of our environment; poor communities, communities of color, and tribal lands are hit hardest by pollution. It’s damning evidence of the lasting damage inflicted by the systemic racism that is built into our laws, our policies, and our institutions.
We must be unflinching in confronting these harsh realities and take aggressive action to correct them—ripping out the inequities in housing, health care, education, our criminal justice system, and so many other areas. That’s why I’ve released policies that build equity and access around the issues that matter most to every American family, and to correct the grave injustices that hold back people of color.
We’re going to make historic investments to ensure that every American child can compete and succeed in the 21st century economy. That starts with universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds and extends through making sure all Americans can go to two years of community college without taking on any debt. It means tripling funding for Title I schools that serve a high percentage of low-income families, so that the education our children receive doesn’t depend on their zip code, and committing $70 billion to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.
My health care plan will finish the work President Obama and I started by protecting and building on Obamacare with a public option. It’s the fastest, most cost-effective way to get to universal coverage, while also reducing costs for families and streamlining the complexity of our health care system.
We’re also going to continue the work we started during the Obama-Biden Administration to reduce the number of people incarcerated and eliminate the racial, gender, and income-based inequalities in our criminal justice system. Because black mothers and fathers should feel confident that their children are safe walking the streets of America.
And, as we combat the existential threat of climate change and seize the opportunity to create a clean-energy economy, we’re going to prioritize environmental justice and hold accountable polluters who have abused their power to poison the air and drinking water, especially of disadvantaged communities.
We must tackle all these challenges and build a more inclusive economy, because being part of the middle class is so much more than a number—it’s a value set. It’s being able to look your child in the eyes and tell them it’s going to be ok and mean it. If I have the honor of being elected president, that will be the principle that guides everything I do.