The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.

Economic Opportunity, Diversity and Climate Change Policy Recommendations for the Biden-Harris administration

Posted on December 08, 2020 at 01:27 PM

Economic equality and Delta colleagues:

From: Delta Grassroots Caucus and Economic Equality Caucus

To: Biden-Harris Transition Team

Subject: Policies for Economic Opportunity, Race and Gender Diversity in the Biden Administration

The Delta Grassroots Caucus/Economic Equality Caucus recommends this short list of key priorities for economic recovery, health, and diversity for economically distressed populations like the Greater Mississippi Delta, Appalachia, Northern Border, Great Plains, Southeast Crescent, and Southwest Border. We are grassroots advocates for economic equality and diversity across the country.

1) Economic Recovery and Workforce Development

Expanded job creation and retention programs during the pandemic: this includes

–strong funding and support for Small Business Administration, Labor, USDA Rural Development small business programs, and other major federal programs,

–New Markets tax credit, initiatives like rural Empowerment Zones and a reformed version of Opportunity Zones to provide tax incentives for investing in low-income areas, Community Development Financial Institutions and other progressive economic initiatives.

Strong unemployment benefits, economic stimulus and relief to promote economic recovery see vulnerable populations for a strong economic recovery through the Covid-19/recession.

Education and workforce investment–Strong K-12 funding and support for public education, and aid to cut the exorbitant costs for higher education that are blocking the career paths of so many people nowadays and/or saddling them with huge debt;

Environmentally friendly agriculture focused on small to medium-sized farmers, ending tariffs that invite retaliation against farm exports, and opening up new trade markets across the globe.

Climate change: Provide tax breaks and other incentives to farmers to help them make the transition to environmentally friendly agriculture and help deal with climate change. Assistance in transition to renewable energy for farmers is far more productive than lectures.

Increased funding for all regional commissions in economically distressed regions: for the Delta Regional Authority, Appalachian Regional Commission, Southeast Crescentm Northern Border Regional Commission, Southwest Border Regional Commission, Great Plains, Denali and other commissions serving economically distressed regions.

All of these commissions are under-funded or in some cases have been authorized but not funded and exist only on paper. These regions need special aid due to their chronic poverty levels and they need to be supported and funded.

2) Health Care and Nutrition in the Pandemic

–Support for Obamacare and health care for those without adequate insurance, and

–strong policies for mask-wearing, social distancing and broad distribution of vaccines when they are available–this is always crucial for a region that has such high rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and other maladies, but even moreso now.

–In diverse regions like the Delta we are doubly concerned about the disproportionately high virus rates for African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and other minorities;

USDA SNAP, WIC, school meals and other nutrition programs: with regions like the Delta, Appalachia, Southwest Border, Southeast Crescent and Rust Belt suffering skyrocketing food insecurity in the country, we are calling for

–a 15% increase in SNAP funding,

–strong continuing support for the pandemic EBT program,

–rolling back of the Trump policies making it harder for people to gain SNAP and other benefits they are eligible for, and making WIC an entitlement so that it finally gets solid funding over the long term;

3) Racial and Gender Equity

Women and minority issues–women are hit worst by job losses in the pandemic recession, and minorities are hit worst in the number of virus cases. Moreover, low-income people tend to not have as strong access to affordable quality health care. We must have equal pay for women doing the same work as men.

Restoring, protecting and expanding upon the Voting Rights Act and other gains of the civil rights movement,

–major increases in funding and stature of the Minority Business Development Agency, equal access and opportunity in federal procurement and employment across the federal government, are among the top priorities.

–The CDFI, New Markets Tax Credit and other initiatives cited in the jobs/economic equality section will provide major benefit for African Americans and Latinos who have lower income and job opportunity.

Police reform, combating racial violence and bigotry—We need to acknowledge that most police officers are non-violent enforcers of the law. This truth was tragically driven home recently when an exemplary officer, Kevin Collins—who happened to be African American—was killed while engaging in criminal investigation in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

While we appreciate the work of the great majority of the police, we do have a recurring dilemma of police violence against blacks. We support reforms such as:

–banning chokeholds and similarly dangerous actions,

–requiring officers to restrain other officers when they see them being abusive or using excessive force,

–training on scaling down and defusing rather than escalating tense situations, encouraging officers to communicate with subjects, maintain distance, and otherwise reduce use of force,

–firing, criminal prosecution where appropriate and other stern punishments for officers who engage in violence or racial slurs,

–creating a national registry for police officers with abusive records,

–assure higher pay for law enforcement officers. They need to be well paid if we are going to attract high quality officer.

–Crime prevention: Establish and fund Community/Neighborhood Crime Prevention Commissions which help reduce crime .

4) Infrastructure and Climate Change

Infrastructure expansion program to create jobs and repair our deteriorating infrastructure:

We need a major investment in housing, broadband, transportation and other infrastructure in US Dept. of Transportation, USDA Rural Development housing, utilities, and other infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development for struggling inner city areas across the country.

Note: In Louisiana, small towns like Bogalusa as in most small towns USA there is a need to budget an overlay/blacktop of streets unbiased throughout residential neighborhoods. “Streets within residential communities perform various infrastructure functions. They provide conduits for communication, electricity, storm water, sewage systems (i.e., utilities)” (Noted from: Status and Future Directions for Residential Street Infrastructure Retrofit Research/Ksenia I. Aleksandrova, Wendy J. McWilliam and Andreas Wesener *School of Landscape Architecture, Faculty of Environment, Society and Design, Lincoln University, P.O. Box 85084, Lincoln 7647, Christchurch, New Zealand); ,

IN ADDITION a need for pedestrians, cyclists, and ADA sidewalks, as well as, drainage to prevent flooding, and programs to develop or demolish blighted property.

Climate change and investments in biofuels, solar, wind and renewable energy:

Many economically distressed regions like the Delta, Southwest Border and Appalachia have great potential for producing biofuels, and the nation as a whole must make great investments in solar, wind, and other renewable energy to transition away from fossil fuels that cause health problems and climate change in the form of much greater numbers of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters to which the Greater Delta Region suffers from more than most regions.

In addition to the vital environmental impact, renewable energy has tremendous economic potential for job creation over the long term. This is a national and international problem and we have to make this transition now. Again, tax and financial incentives to farmers and businesses who make the transition away from fossil fuels is needed on a large scale.

Environmentally friendly buildings and housing: We enthusiastically endorse President-Elect Biden’s plan to upgrade 4 million buildings and weatherize 2 million homes over 4 years, creating at least 1 million good-paying jobs with the option of union membership;

–spur the building retrofit and efficient-appliance manufacturing supply chain by funding direct cash rebates and low-cost financing to upgrade and electrify home appliances and install more efficient windows, which will cut residential energy bills.

In housing spurring the construction of 1.5 million sustainable homes and housing units. We need federal grant programs in place to assist our low income elderly in repairing their homes (roofs, porches, plumbing, etc).