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What Biden and Harris Owe the Poor

They must reject the politics of austerity and fulfill their commitment to policies that address human needs. Dal New York Times.

Before he was elected in November, Joe Biden promised that his “theory of change” for reforming the economy would be “ending poverty.” He pledged to champion a $15 minimum wage, affordable health care for all and federal action to address systemic racism. In the midst of an economic crisis, a pandemic and an uprising for racial justice, low-income Americans — Black, white, brown, Asian and Native — voted to overwhelm a reactionary base that President Trump had stoked with lies and fear.

As Democrats have argued about losses in congressional districts that saw a surge of Mr. Trump’s base, some have suggested the Biden administration’s mandate is to compromise with Republican demands. But Mr. Biden and Kamala Harris’s victory depended on the turnout of a diverse coalition that wants economic and racial justice, and deserves bold policy solutions.

At least six million more low-income people voted in this election than in 2016. According to early polls, those with household incomes of less than $50,000 voted for Mr. Biden by an 11.5-point margin — a more than 30 percent increase. This surge of poor and low-income voters of all races joined Black, brown and Native voters as well as white anti-Trump voters in the suburbs to meet and surpass the turnout of Mr. Trump’s base.

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Voters also supported at least 14 ballot initiatives across the country that increase taxes on the wealthy, protect workers, address housing issues and homelessness, bridge the digital divide, fund transportation, confront the criminalization of poverty and limit campaign contributions. Voters across the country demanded health care, living wages, the decriminalization of their communities and a system that taxes those who can afford it most. Sixty-three percent of Americans now say that the government has a responsibility to provide health care for all. Around two-thirds of Biden voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Nevada say that systemic racism is a significant problem, and the same proportion of Americans surveyed last year favored a $15 minimum wage.

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