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    Takeaways from VP Kamala Harris' Milwaukee stop: Black homeownership, economic opportunity

    By Alison Dirr, USA TODAY NETWORK,

    2024-05-17

    In a visit to Milwaukee on Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris pressed the case that the Biden-Harris Administration's economic policies have helped Americans and, in particular, addressed disparities that affect Black Americans and business owners.

    This marked Harris' fourth trip to the critical swing state ahead of the November presidential election that is expected to be a rematch of the 2020 race between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.

    Harris' visit was part of what the White House has dubbed an "economic opportunity tour."

    "A lot of what this tour is highlighting is the various things that we are doing to acknowledge the various dimensions of who we are but in the context of economic opportunity, be it debt, be it homeownership, be it access to loans, be it access to counseling and the services that help people know how to start a business and keep a business," Harris said during a stop at Discovery World museum in Milwaukee, where she spoke with comedian, radio host and author D.L. Hughley.

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3x7qLL_0t6aNG7w00
    Vice President Kamala Harris speaks with D.L. Hughley highlighting how the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic steps to advance economic opportunity by improving access to housing, creating jobs and investing in small businesses as part of her nationwide Economic Opportunity Tour on Thursday May 16, 2024 at Discovery World in Milwaukee, Wis. Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Here are a few takeaways from Harris' visit:

    Vice President Kamala Harris focuses on Black homeowners, businesses — a critical voting bloc

    The conversation between Harris and Hughley before a packed room focused on the importance of access to information and relationships in building businesses and generational wealth ― and the challenges faced by communities of color across generations.

    She said the tour intends to acknowledge both the opportunities and disparities and obstacles for communities of color.

    Harris' comments come as Democrats seek to maintain support among Black voters amid reports that the party's backing among the key voting bloc has slipped .

    She said the tour was designed to share information about the resources available, and she sought help from the people in the audience, who she said were invited to attend because they are business and opinion leaders.

    "Please help us get the word out," she said.

    She said the administration was "dropping trillions of dollars on the streets of America" to rebuild infrastructure, invest in clean energy and build resilience to climate change.

    Harris highlighted local business owner James Phelps

    https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=3lqMoB_0t6aNG7w00
    President of JCP Construction James Phelps introduces Vice President Kamala Harris as she highlights how the Biden-Harris Administration has taken historic steps to advance economic opportunity by improving access to housing, creating jobs and investing in small businesses as part of her nationwide Economic Opportunity Tour on Thursday May 16, 2024 at Discovery World in Milwaukee, Wis. Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Harris highlighted James Phelps, president of JCP Construction who introduced her, saying that businesses like his bring to life the work that policy-makers in Washington D.C. envision.

    On the issue of Black homeownership, she discussed the consequences of segregation, redlining and racial bias in home appraisals.

    The administration, she said, is taking steps including requiring home appraisers to be trained on racial bias. She spoke to the administration's efforts to forgive student loan debt and remove a prohibition on accessing small-business loans for people who had been previously incarcerated.

    Biden last week met with Black voters on a trip to Wisconsin and on Wednesday made his case on Sherwin Hughes' show on 101.7 The Truth, the news-talk radio station focusing on Milwaukee's Black community.

    Milwaukee mayor, county executive highlight visits by Biden, Harris to swing state Wisconsin

    That Biden and Harris are putting time and energy into Wisconsin was a key message from speakers who took the stage before Harris' arrival, including Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and County Executive David Crowley.

    "The administration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris has gone to great lengths to invest, to build and to reshape the relationship that Wisconsin residents have with the federal government," Johnson said.

    He called Harris a “true partner to Milwaukee.”

    Crowley said investments by the administration are showing up in affordable housing in neighborhoods and ensuring that Black and brown business owners have "the tools that they need to succeed."

    “Under this administration, we have witnessed the fastest growth of Black-owned small businesses in more than 30 years," Crowley said.

    Like Harris ― who made history as the first woman, first Black American, and the first South Asian American to be elected to her position ― Johnson and Crowley are each the first African Americans elected to the positions they hold.

    Republicans slam Biden-Harris economic policies

    Republicans, in response to the Harris visit, took aim at the administration's economic policies. Republican Party of Wisconsin Chairman Brian Schimming said in a statement "voters know they cannot afford another four years of Biden and Harris in the White House.”

    “Every time Kamala Harris visits Wisconsin, voters are reminded of the failed agenda of the Biden Administration," he said.

    This is Vice President Kamala Harris' fourth visit to Wisconsin in 2024

    The steady rhythm of visits by Democrats and Republicans alike speaks to the intense focus on Wisconsin as both parties seek control of the White House.

    If history is any guide, whether Trump or Biden wins Wisconsin in November is likely to be decided by a small margin and both campaigns are making their cases to voters.

    In 2020, Biden won the state by about 21,000 votes after Trump won Wisconsin by a similar margin just four years earlier.

    Biden has visited the state four times this year while Trump has visited twice .

    Alison Dirr can be reached at adirr@jrn.com.

    This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Takeaways from VP Kamala Harris' Milwaukee stop: Black homeownership, economic opportunity

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