Joe Biden’s Costly, Radical Race and Gender Agenda

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about his plans to combat racial inequality at a campaign event in Wilmington, Del., July 28, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Joe Biden says he wants equality. Who could be against that? But if just declaring yourself in favor of equality were enough, we would not still be arguing about equality in 2020. As always, when politicians talk about inequality, watch your wallet. And in this case, watch the Constitution, too.

In the past week, the Biden campaign has announced plans of Castro-esque length aimed at racial equality and women’s equality. We suppose we should at least welcome Biden’s continued willingness to use that old-fashioned word “women.” But Biden is so stuck in the past that he would pronounce the Equal Rights Amendment already ratified based on state legislative approvals in the 1970s. The deadline for the expiration of those long-ago votes was so clear, even Ruth Bader Ginsburg considers them dead letters. Biden would go further, demanding Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a radical-feminist 1970s treaty under which even Scandinavian countries get hectored for allowing women to assume the primary role in child-rearing. Biden would also restore the Obama-era unilateral executive fiat under which domestic violence and sexual violence are made the basis for political asylum, a position with no basis in the immigration laws enacted by Congress, and no limiting principle.

Human rights get rough treatment under the plans. Biden proposes to roll back due-process protections for the accused in campus sexual-assault cases. The secret ballot for union elections is to be replaced by reviving “card check” elections. Biden once posed as a pro-lifer reluctantly supporting legal abortion, while opposing — for four decades — taxpayer-funded abortion. So much for that. He pledges that “his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate Roe v. Wade,” and that he will “restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” restore U.S. funding to the pro-abortion United Nations Population Fund, and “restore the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate” to ignore the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision and restart the government’s assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Many of the proposals boil down to the same old thing: more federal spending of taxpayer money, more power and goodies for unions, more workplace regulations, more dividing people up by race. The price tag of all these initiatives adds up to some $7 trillion in new spending, most of it permanent. Right off the bat, a $2 trillion “accelerated investment” is pledged in a “clean energy future,” with the restriction that “disadvantaged communities receive 40 percent of overall benefits of spending in the areas of clean energy and energy efficiency deployment” — a telltale sign that this is more about spreading money around to favored constituencies than about “science.” No cause is too local to throw dollars at: Biden pledges he will “update and add air conditioners for elementary, middle and high schools.”

Biden proposes a $15 national minimum wage, never mind the difference between labor-market conditions in San Francisco and Mississippi, and would abolish the exemption for tipped workers such as waiters, on the theory that “two in three tipped wage workers are women” and “tipped workers of color are tipped even less than white tipped-wage workers.” He pledges to “expand pay and benefits for jobs disproportionately filled by women,” dropping the pretense that “equal pay” is at all related to equal work.

The further one gets into these proposals, the clearer it becomes that the left-wing radicals who were supposedly defeated by Biden in the primary are actually writing them. The euphemisms and acronyms in Biden’s plans, in Orwell’s words, “fall upon the facts like soft snow, blurring the outlines and covering up the details.” For example, Biden pledges to require insurers to cover “gender confirmation surgery.” He pledges to ban “conversion therapy” — did we miss the federal government becoming the primary regulator of therapists?

The intense focus on categorizing people by race, channeling government benefits along explicit racial lines, and constructing new federal bureaucracies to obsess about race is numbing. Biden would “ensure all small business relief efforts are specifically designed to aid businesses owned by Black and Brown people,” “require publicly traded companies to disclose data on the racial and gender composition of their corporate boards,” and “establish an Equity Commission” to “focus on the unique jurisdictional and regulatory barriers that Black, Brown, and Native farmers, ranchers, and fishers must negotiate and make sure that processes are streamlined and simplified to promote new and beginning farming and ranching operations by Black and Brown farmers.”

You might think the Federal Reserve exists mainly to ensure sound money and a stable banking system; Biden proposes that “the Fed should aggressively enhance its surveillance and targeting of persistent racial gaps in jobs, wages, and wealth.” A government that puts “racial” and “surveillance” in the same job description for an unelected body should be viewed with alarm.

Biden proposes to lavish $70 billion on “HBCUs, Tribal Colleges And Universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSIs), Asian American And Native American Pacific Islander-serving Institutions (AANAPISIs), Alaska Native-serving Institutions and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions (ANNHs), Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs), and Native American-serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTIs).” Pity the poor Biden speechwriter preparing the candidate to talk about how AANAPISIs differ from NASNTIs.

The mask of the Biden campaign is the candidate’s supposed centrism. The reality is more than America can afford.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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