Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign on Thursday rolled out an extensive plan to fight systemic racism and expand economic freedom for African Americans.
The South Bend, Ind., mayor has dubbed this set of proposals the “Douglass Plan,” after pioneering abolitionist Frederick Douglass. The proposals come as Buttigieg continues to field questions about his lackluster polling numbers among African Americans and the state of race relations in South Bend, where a black resident was recently shot by a white police officer. Since the shooting, Buttigieg has said he’s “determined” to improve race relations in the city.
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The campaign describes the plan as a “A Comprehensive Investment in the Empowerment of Black America.” The plan is broadly divided into seven areas: health care, education, entrepreneurship, criminal justice, housing, environmental justice, and voting rights.
“We have lived in the shadow of systemic racism for too long,” Buttigieg said in a statement. “We’ve seen a rise in white nationalism, an economic gap between black and white workers that grows instead of shrinks, and worse health outcomes for black Americans, particularly new mothers, that should make us all wonder how the richest country on earth can allow this to happen under our noses.”
How would it work?
The plan proposes investments in key areas that would benefit African Americans, Buttigieg argues. It proposes establishing an a National Health Equity Strategy in order to “train our existing health workforce to combat bias — especially racial bias — when treating patients.”
The Douglass plan would also dramatically increase federal funding for black students in science-related fields and increase resources for students at Title I schools. On entrepreneurship, the proposal calls for tripling the number of black entrepreneurs over the next decade and awarding a quarter of government contracts to “minority business owners.” On housing, the Douglass Plan aims to increase asset ownership by creating a public trust to buy vacant properties and make those properties available to residents. The plan also includes provisions to revitalize and invest in neighborhoods in pilot cities.
Among the criminal justice reform proposals are halving the incarceration rate at the state and federal level, abolishing private federal prisons and ending or reducing incarceration for drug crimes. The proposal also would double federal funding for states that looking to make criminal justice reforms.
The Douglass plan also calls for passing a new Voting Rights Act to make it easier to vote. Provisions include automatically registering voters and making same-day registration available.
How much would it cost?
The full price tag is unclear, but the proposal does say it would increase “dedicated resources for Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority-Serving Institutions by $25 billion.”
Even as Buttigieg has outraised his competitors in the Democratic primary, he’s still struggled with African American voters. Polling has found him lagging behind his competitors among that voting black. The South Bend mayor has also fielded criticism from residents for not focusing enough on the African American community. That criticism has only increased in light of a recent shooting involving an African American man and police officer in South Bend. Buttigieg has been working to listen to the African American community to better understand their concerns and address tensions in the city.
Which other candidates have proposed similar ideas?
A number of other 2020 presidential candidates have released policy proposals aimed at systemic racism. Elizabeth Warren has cast many of her proposals in terms of racial justice during the campaign, while Kamala Harris recently released a plan to reduce the racial homeownership gap. Cory Booker’s “baby bonds” plan is part of a platform to reduce the racial wealth gap.