safety in our country: establishing a $10 billion Emergency Repair Fund to address the backlog of critical infrastructure repairs; providing $250 million in Emergency Assessments Grants to the states to conduct immediate safety reviews of their high-priority, high-risk infrastructure assets; and forming a commission to carry out a comprehensive assessment of our engineering review standards so that we better prioritize needed repairs on bridges and roads.
Q: How would you address discrimination in employment, both the effects of discrimination in getting hired and in pay?
A: I will restore funding to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I recently announced an agenda to fight discrimination and restore the federal government’s historic role as a champion of civil rights. It includes redeeming the Civil Rights Division , helping local school districts pursue voluntary integration and reduce racial inequality, strengthening our voting laws so that every citizen can fully exercise his or her right to vote, combating ongoing racial and sex discrimination in the labor market by improving laws and expanding enforcement, modernizing and strengthening the federal hate crimes law.
Q: Many minority entrepreneurs feel that the SBA has been greatly weakened by the Bush administration. What steps do you believe are necessary to ensure that they get their fair share of federal contracting dollars?
A: As president, I will streamline federal government processes that allow minorities to access credit. I will direct government agencies to pay special attention to mature minority businesses, as well as nurturing new ones. I will strengthen government purchasing programs so that minority-owned companies have access to higher value contracts for goods and services. And I will create a one-stop shop for government programs that provide access to credit and support for micro-enterprise.
I will also make sure that there are qualified people in government to help minority entrepreneurs—people who really want to make small businesses work for everybody and really care about what they’re asked to do. For many small and minority-owned businesses, it is challenging to navigate the complexity of government contracting. Let’s make sure that we’ve got many different businesses at different levels of development being targeted.
Q: The dollar is considerably weakened, especially alongside the euro and the pound. To what do you attribute that and how would you fix it?
A: The state of the American economy is of utmost importance to me. It is critically important that we get back to fiscal discipline, and that we make the economy work for all Americans. At the same time, we have to make sure that other nations play by the rules. China has a long history of manipulating its currency to make its own goods look cheap and ours look expensive. While the President has ignored this problem, I have introduced legislation to address it.
Q: How important do you believe the Black vote will be in helping you win the nomination and then the general election?
A: As first lady and senator, I have worked with and on behalf of African American communities throughout the United States, and I will continue