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Has Biden Delivered For Black Americans?

The Biden Administration Strives To Make The Case As Poll Numbers Tighten

JT Torbit

Black Americans played a crucial role in securing Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election. Now, with the 2024 showdown against former President Donald Trump rapidly approaching, the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party find themselves in a race against time to effectively make the case–or at the very least–remind Black Americans of all that President Biden has been able to accomplish for them.

By all accounts, the 2024 election is predicted to be a close one. Recent polls indicate Trump either leading or running even with Biden in battleground states, and an increasing number of political pundits are giving the edge to Trump.

This consideration arises from waning enthusiasm and apathy among Black voters, particularly Black men, toward Biden and the Democratic Party and the inroads the former president has been

able to make with Black and Hispanic voters.

A Wall Street Journal poll shows 57 percent of Black men plan to support Biden, compared to 30 percent for Trump. This represents a significant drop from four years ago, when 87 percent of Black men voted for Biden. The same survey indicates that 77 percent of Black women plan to vote for Biden, whereas 11 percent support Trump. In 2020, 93 percent of Black women voted for Biden, a critical factor in his narrow victory in several states.

A New York Times-Siena poll in late October found that 22 percent of Black voters in six battleground states, including Michigan, would support Trump if the election were held today, while 71 percent would support Biden.

Though most strategists doubt that Trump could secure 20% of the Black vote, even a small increase could spell trouble for Biden considering that Trump won just 8 percent of the Black vote in 2020 and 6 percent in 2016, especially in swing states with large Black populations, such as Michigan, where Biden narrowly edged out Trump in 2020.

Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of Black PAC, an independent organization focused on political engagement, notes, “The communication to Black communities about the administration’s accomplishments has fallen short.”

Based on focus groups conducted by BlackPAC, Shropshire says, “some people just have no

idea what the administration has done, and that’s a big red flag heading into the election.” In response, the Biden campaign has intensified its efforts to connect with Black voters. Initiatives include a pilot plan using digital messaging and “trusted messengers” to spread the word about Biden’s accomplishments, and a $25 million advertising campaign targeting Black and Hispanic media in swing states–Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Georgia.

“I have your back, as much as any president has in American history since Lyndon Johnson,” Biden has stated as his administration points to numerous achievements that have resulted in a 60% increase in wealth compared to pre-pandemic levels, fueling what they describe as a “historically equitable economic recovery.”

Those achievements include promoting entrepreneurship, increasing access to homeownership, delivering the lowest Black unemployment rate, advancing voting rights and police accountability, reducing child poverty, expanding access to quality affordable healthcare, and making Juneteenth the eleventh American federal holiday.

Last month, Team Biden-Harris launched Black Voters for Biden-Harris, a national organizing program aimed at strengthening outreach to Black voters, whom they consider crucial to defeating Trump’s toxic agenda this November.

“We’re focused on not only ramping up our paid advertising investments but deepening and scaling our organizing apparatus across the summer,” said Biden-Harris 2024 Communications Director Michael Tyler. “Working with partner organizations and tapping into their networks so we can communicate directly with Black voters in their communities.

We understand that you cannot show up in September and October and just come ask for votes. You have to earn votes. That’s what Joe Biden understands. That’s what Kamala Harris understands the work this campaign is doing.””We’re having conversations on the ground so that voters in every single community understand what this administration has done for Black communities.

Record-low Black unemployment. The historic investments that we’ve made into HBCUs to the tune of $16 billion,” Tyler continued. “They understand the stakes and the threat that Donald Trump poses to our communities…So, we’re going to relentlessly do that day in and day out until November because, again, Black voters are the ones who have the absolute most at stake in this election, and we’re not going to take a single vote for granted. We’re going to earn those votes.”

So, What Has Biden Done? Here are just some of the achievements the Biden administration is touting in advance of the November elections:

Economic Recovery

  • Created 2.6 million jobs for Black workers and achieved the lowest Black unemployment rate on record in 2023. Though rates have started to rise.
  • Powered the largest increase in Black wealth which is up by 60% relative to pre-pandemic though inflation has dampened purchasing power.
  • Cut in half the number of Black children living in poverty in 2021 through the Child Tax Credit expansion.
  • Began reversing decades of infrastructure disinvestment, including with $4 billion to reconnect communities that were previously cut off from economic opportunities by building needed transportation infrastructure in underserved communities
  • Connected an estimated 5.5 million Black households to affordable high-speed internet through the Affordable Connectivity Program, closing the digital divide for millions of Black families.
  • Sent $1,400 checks to households through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Black-Owned Businesses

  • Achieved the fastest creation rate of Black-owned businesses in over 30 years–more than doubling the share of Black business owners from 2019 to 2022.
  • Improved the Small Business Administration’s flagship loan guarantee programs to expand the availability of capital to underserved communities with the number and dollar value of SBA-backed loans to Black-owned businesses more than doubling.
  • Expanded access to federal contracts for small businesses, awarding a record $69.9 billion to small, disadvantaged businesses in 2022.
  • Invested $10 billion to expand access to capital and invest in early-stage businesses in all 50 states–including $2.5 billion in funding and incentive allocations dedicated to supporting the provision of capital to underserved businesses with $1 billion of these funds to be awarded to the jurisdictions most successful in reaching underserved businesses.
  • Helped more than 37,000 farmers and ranchers in financial distress stay on their farms and keep farming, thanks to resources provided through IRA, which allocated $3.1 billion for the Department of Agriculture to provide relief for distressed borrowers with at-risk agricultural operations with outstanding direct or guaranteed Farm Service Agency loans.
  • Supported small and disadvantaged businesses through CHIPS Act funding by requiring applicants to develop a workforce plan to create equitable pathways for economically disadvantaged individuals in their region, as well as a plan to support procurement from small, minority-owned, veteran-owned, and women-owned businesses.
  • Created the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund which will invest in clean energy projects in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Housing

  • Set up the first-ever national infrastructure to stop evictions, scaling up the ARP-funded Emergency Rental Assistance program in over 400 communities across the country (40% of whom were Black), helping 8 million renters and their families stay in their homes, preventing millions of evictions.
  • Published a proposed fair housing rule through the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will help overcome patterns of segregation and hold states, localities, and public housing agencies that receive federal funds accountable for ensuring that un derserved communities have equitable access to affordable housing opportunities.
  • Created the Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity, an interagency effort to root out bias in the home appraisal process, including cracking down on algorithmic bias and empowering consumers to take action against misevaluation.
  • Expanded access to credit by incorporating a borrower’s positive rental payment history into the mortgage underwriting process. The policy change is estimated to enable an additional 5,000 borrowers peryear to qualify for an FHA-insured loan.

Education

  • Approved more than $136 billion in student loan debt cancellation for 3.7 million Americans through various actions and launched a new student loan repayment plan–the Saving on a Valuable Education plan–to help many students and families cut in half their total lifetime payments per dollar borrowed.
  • Championed the largest increase to Pell Grants in the last decade affecting the over 60% of Black undergraduates who rely on Pell grants.
  • Fixed the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, so all qualified borrowers get the debt relief to which they are entitled. More than 790,000 public servants have received more than $56 billion in loan forgiveness since October 2021.
  • Delivered a record $7 billion to support HBCUs.
  • Secured $130 billion–the largest investment in public education in history–to help students get back to school, recover academically in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and address student mental health.
  • Secured a 30% increase in childcare assistance funding, with Black families comprising 38% of the families benefiting from federal childcare assistance. An additional $1 billion was secured for Head Start.

Healthcare

  • Increased Black enrollment in health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act by 49%–or by around 400,000–from 2020 to 2022, helping more Black families gain health insurance than ever before.
  • Through IRA, locked in lower monthly premiums for health insurance, capped the cost of insulin at $35 per covered insulin product for Medicare beneficiaries, and helped further close the gap in access to medication by improving prescription drug coverage and lowering drug costs in Medicare.
  • Through ARP, expanded postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months in 43 states and Washington, D.C., a critical step in helping to address maternal health disparities.
  • Financed projects to replace hundreds of thousands of lead pipes, helping protect against lead poisoning that disproportionately affects Black communities.
  • Provided 264 grants to more than 40 states to increase the supply of school-based mental health professionals in communities with high rates of poverty.

Equal Opportunity

  • Nominated the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court and more Black women to federal circuit courts than every President combined.
  • Biden tied the number of confirmed LGBTQ judges and broke the record of appointing more Black judges in one term than any other president in history.
  • Countered hateful attempts to rewrite history including the signing of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act.
  • Created the Justice40 Initiative, which is delivering 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments in clean energy, affordable and sustainable housing, clean water, and other programs to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution as part of the most ambitious climate, conservation, and environmental justice agenda in history.

Voting Rights

  • Signed an Executive Order to leverage the resources of the Federal Government to provide nonpartisan information about the election process increase access to voter registration and enhance the ability of all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.
  • Increased funding for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, which has more than doubled the number of voting rights enforcement attorneys, and created an Election Threats Task Force to assess allegations and reports of threats against election workers, prosecuting where appropriate.
  • Signed into law the bipartisan Electoral Reform Count Act, which establishes guidelines for certifying and counting electoral votes for President and Vice President, to preserve the will of the people and to protect against attempts to overturn our elections that led to the January 6 insurrection.

Gun Violence

  • Launched the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention, and in 2022, the Administration’s investments in evidence-based, lifesaving programs–combined with aggressive action to stop the flow of illegal guns and hold shooters accountable yielded a 12.4% reduction in homicides across the United States.
  • Signed into the law the most significant gun violence reduction legislation in nearly 30 years, including policy changes to enhance background checks for individuals under 21, narrow the dating partner loophole in the gun background check system, and provide law enforcement with tools to crack down on gun trafficking.
  • Secured the first-ever dedicated federal funding stream for community violence intervention programs, shown to reduce violence by as much as 60%, while connecting people to social, health and wellness, and economic services to reduce the likelihood of violence as an answer to conflict.

Public Safety/Crime

  • Signed a historic Executive Order that requires federal law enforcement agencies to ban chokeholds; restrict no-knock warrants; mandate the use of body-worn cameras; implement stronger use-of-force policies; provide de-escalation training; submit use-of-force data; submit officer misconduct records into a new national accountability database; and restrict the sale or transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, among other things.
  • Taken steps to right the wrongs stemming from our Nation’s failed approach to marijuana by directing the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice to expeditiously review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law and in October 2022 issued categorical pardons of prior federal and D.C. offenses of simple possession of marijuana and in December 2023 pardoned additional offenses of simple possession and use of marijuana under federal and D.C. law.
  • Announced over 100 concrete policy actions as part of a White House evidence-informed, multi-year Alternatives, Rehabilitation, and Reentry Strategic Plan to safely reduce unnecessary criminal justice system interactions so police officers can focus on fighting crime; supporting rehabilitation during incarceration; and facilitating successful reentry.
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