The Biden administration will be measuring the American economy using very different benchmarks from its predecessor, according to a new report.
President-elect Joe Biden’s “economic policy team has signaled that it will be the first administration ever to construct economic policy around issues like race, gender equality and climate change, rather than around traditional indicators like gross domestic product or deficit ratios,” Axios reported last week in summarizing the new economic climate Biden brings with him into office.
“Biden is charting an economic policy that’s visibly to the left of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. If he succeeds, it’s going to show up not only in taxes and spending, but also in regulation,” Axios said.
It was a recurring theme.
For example, when Biden announced his choice of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture, he noted that the goal of his farm policy was “making American agriculture the first in the world to achieve net-zero emissions and create new sources of income for farmers in the process by paying farmers to put their land in conservation, plant cover crops that use the soil to capture carbon.”
“And [Vilsack] will ensure that USDA promotes true racial equality and inclusion. He recognizes the history of discrimination and will root it out wherever it exists,” Biden said then.
The phrase “systemic racism” recurs in discussions of the administration’s plans for the future.
Arisha Hatch, vice president for the group Color Of Change, gave the incoming administration credit for “solid proposals” addressing income inequality, but said such things scratch the surface.
Biden’s economic policies must “rectify racial and socioeconomic disparities that exist within black communities, they need to address the root causes of these issues,” Hatch told USA Today.
“With the systemic racism that has locked us out of job opportunities, education and access to health care,” he added, “it’s going to take more than well-intentioned plans to close the racial wealth gap for black communities.”
“What we need from the Biden-Harris administration is a federal jobs guarantee, an influx of affordable housing, a higher federal minimum wage, and much more,” Hatch said. “If black communities are going to survive this crisis, we need the new administration to act with the urgency this moment requires.”
This is our moment to tackle systemic racism head-on and build a nation true to our founding ideals. A nation where all men and women are not only created equal — but treated equally.
Here’s how we’ll advance racial economic equity: https://t.co/Tjgyn1gR2V
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 23, 2020
Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair Biden has picked to lead the Treasury Department, indicated over the summer that government should not hesitate to spend its way to achieving equality goals.
“With interest rates extremely low and likely to remain so for some time, we do not believe that concerns about the deficit and debt should prevent the Congress from responding robustly to this emergency,” she said then, according to The New York Times. “The top priorities at this time should be protecting our citizens from the pandemic and pursuing a stronger and equitable economic recovery.”
Biden’s transition team has announced the formation of a Gender Policy Council to oversee gender policies across the federal government.
Its goal, Biden said, was “getting closer to equality for women and to the full inclusion of women in our economy and our society.”
Biden has also indicated that rejoining the Paris climate accord will be among his first goals when he takes office.
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