Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, unveiled another plan geared toward ending racial inequality on Saturday, pledging that as president he would vastly expand the federal government’s investment in women- and minority-owned businesses.
The 2020 hopeful claimed his plan would “unlock over half a trillion dollars” in resources and “spur the development of 200,000 new women and minority owned small businesses.” It also would redirect $100 billion in federal contracting toward small businesses, expand access to mentorship opportunities, open a public credit reporting agency and work through certain avenues to expand access to markets and capital.
“Beto understands the unique challenges facing small business owners – and that those challenges are only heightened for women entrepreneurs and people of color,” his campaign site read.
“Beto’s plan to inject capital and demand into America’s small businesses, confront institutional racism and increase federal investment in minority and women owned businesses will enable small business owners to do what they do best: grow the economy and create jobs.”
The announcement came as O’Rourke spoke at the Black Economic Alliance’s presidential forum along with fellow 2020 contenders Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., as well as Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
O’Rourke in the past has acknowledged what he called the “privilege” he enjoyed as a straight, white male.
He indicated his privilege popped up when he appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair earlier this year, a decision for which he later expressed remorse. O’Rourke, in May, also announced proposals designed to address racial inequality in the classroom.
O’Rourke’s plan came as the Democratic Party has undergone an internal debate over the extent of its focus on identity politics before the 2020 presidential election. While presidential candidate Andrew Yang predicted that focus would cost the party electoral victories, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams both defended it.
“I would argue that identity politics is exactly who we are, and it’s exactly how we won,” Abrams said in May.