Joe Biden's Use of 'Equity' Over 'Equality' Opens New Front in Culture War

A buzzword circulating at the heart of President Biden's administration has sparked a backlash from conservative commentators, opening a new front in the "culture wars" of Washington politics.

The term "equity" has appeared in nearly every executive order, policy proposal and speech given by the president and his top officials since his inauguration. Conservative commentators have been quick to call out the word and ask why it has replaced the political pursuit for "equality."

While equality means that everyone gets the same resources from government, regardless of their circumstances, equity seeks to address systemic and historical imbalances within society by distributing resources depending on individual need.

Vice President Kamala Harris explained the issue in a speech given two days before the election: "Equality suggests, 'Oh, everyone should get the same amount.' The problem with that, not everybody's starting out from the same place."

The word has since appeared in official White House publications a number of times, including an executive order on housing on January 26 to "advance racial equity" and "root out systemic racism in housing and criminal justice."

A New York Post editorial on Saturday titled "In push for woke 'equity,' Biden abandons equality" claimed that in giving preference to minority groups, the notion of equity is "un-American."

"The 'equity' approach assumes that any outcome that doesn't meet inane racial quotas is the result of bias," the editorial read.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) asked Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) about the difference between equality and equity during her confirmation as Housing Secretary on Thursday.

"President Biden and his senior advisors have said one of his top housing objectives is racial equity, not racial equality... what is the difference between racial equity and racial equality?" he asked, pointing out that President Biden even had to correct himself after confusing the terms.

"From my own perspective, the difference is that one just means that you treat everybody the same," Fudge said. "Sometimes the same is not equitable."

She used an example to explain the term equity: "You know if you say to me that I'm going to give you five dollars so you're going to give my friend five dollars, my five dollars is not necessarily going to go as far because my friend already has a mother and father who is wealthy and they're giving them," she said, before opting to switch to a different comparison.

In its coverage, Fox News stated that implicit in Fudge's response was the admission that not everyone would be treated the same under Biden's government.

However, it is clear the concept is central to the beliefs of President Biden's top team. In one recent executive order, the White House called for "a whole-of-government initiative to address racial equity and support underserved communities, and redress systemic racism in federal policies, laws and programs."

The White House has been asked for comment.

President Joe Biden Arrives at White House
U.S. President Joe Biden waves as he exits Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 29, 2021 in Washington, D.C. His administration has come in for criticism over its use of the concept of "equity" in setting its policy agenda. Drew Angerer/Getty