The Atlantic

A Republican Rising Star’s Plan to Reopen America

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina is keenly aware that COVID-19 is especially dangerous for African Americans. He’s also worried about small businesses.
Source: Rainier Ehrhardt / AP / Katie Martin / The Atlantic

Senator Tim Scott tells the story of his life as a constant fight to help people at the bottom of society. “Our country has been struggling and striving in the right direction,” the Republican told me from Hanahan, South Carolina, where he was temporarily riding out the coronavirus outbreak and a spate of bad weather in his home state. But “we still have progress that needs to be made.” During his decade in Congress, Scott has pushed the Republican Party to remedy America’s inequality, largely focusing on programs that promote American business. The GOP’s 2017 tax-cut bill included a provision, championed by Scott, to create so-called Opportunity Zones meant to incentivize investment in poor areas around the country, although so far, the program has had mixed success.

Now Scott and the rest of his colleagues are facing an enormous test of their philosophy. Nothing in recent history America’s inequalities like the COVID-19 outbreak. White-collar employees get to remain at home while grocery-store clerks and warehouse workers continue risking their health. The rush to stock up on basic supplies has favored the rich, who can afford to spend hundreds, with black Americans dying and being hospitalized at alarmingly high rates.

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