Taifa Butler, president of Demos, a national organization that promotes democratic reform and economic justice, said Tuesday that President Joe Biden needs to do more to meet the needs of people of color.
“We can appreciate the administration’s efforts while still acknowledging that recent federal policy advances come as a result of tireless organizing and advocacy in Black and Brown communities and by our labor partners, not to mention voting in overwhelming numbers despite the barriers,” Butler said Tuesday during a virtual forum hosted by the Michigan League for Public Policy (MLPP).
One of the programs Butler called out was the $750 billion Inflation Reduction Act, which was signed into law on Aug. 16, saying that it “creates winners and losers.”
“How could it not, right? It was achieved through the same tired process of a few powerful white men negotiating a deal that sacrifices the needs of some people for the benefit of others,” Butler said. “Some of the things that we traded away were critically needed investments in our infrastructure, in affordable housing, in childcare, in health care, and the child tax credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit.”
The IRA spends nearly $370 billion on clean energy programs, allows the Medicare health insurance program to negotiate some drug prices beginning in 2026, imposes stiffer corporate taxes and bolsters Internal Revenue Service enforcement to bring in more than $400 billion in new revenue over 10 years. It’s estimated to cut the nation’s deficit by $300 billion, invests in communities’ infrastructure and natural resources and is estimated to create 1.4 to 1.5 million jobs nationwide by 2030.
Butler’s keynote address during the MLPP’s “Just in Time: A Bold Path for Economic Justice” forum focused on equitable investments into the state and national education systems, infrastructure and economies.
“To achieve economic democracy, we must do three things: Break up and regulate new corporate powers like Amazon, Google and Meta; we’ve got to ensure that the essentials like childcare, housing and internet access are recognized as public goods and are equitably administered; and finally, we’ve got to demand co-governance that provides an equal voice for the public in making decisions about the economy,” Butler said.
A number of speakers joined Butler at the forum, including Jim Schaafsma, housing attorney for the Michigan Poverty Law Center, and Ruth Johnson, the public policy director for the Community Development Advocates of Detroit.