Dear Colleague on Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth
Dear Democratic Colleague,
“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself… the liberty of a democracy is not safe if its business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in such a way as to sustain an acceptable standard of living.”
With these words, in an address to Congress, President Franklin Roosevelt called for the Temporary National Economic Committee to study and combat the concentration of wealth in America and its role in triggering the Great Depression.
Today, the following and similar headlines have proliferated in the news media during the pandemic, as wealth increased at the high end and economic insecurity intensified for working families:
U.N. warns that runaway inequality is destabilizing the world’s democracies
- Washington Post
Beyond Pandemic’s Upheaval, a Racial Wealth Gap Endures
-New York Times
Powell defends Federal Reserve’s attention to inequality
The Post-Pandemic Economy Will Boom – But Not For All
Economic inequality has been a growing concern for years – one that has intensified during the pandemic. The widening chasm between CEO compensation and worker pay has gone from unfair to immoral. There is recognition that our economy, which is based on free market capitalism, has not served many Americans well. And it has become clear that the stagnation of workers’ pay is an historic picture of injustice.
Over the past few years, proposals have been brought forward to make capitalism worker-friendly. These innovations include establishing Universal Basic Income, creating sovereign wealth funds generating profits for those most in need, establishing regional economic hubs to address the disparity of geographic opportunity, addressing long-standing barriers to homeownership to bridge the racial wealth gap and ensuring that workers have an ownership stake in their firms.
The devaluing of work has had a negative impact on consumer confidence, job creation and economic growth. And the situation of families no longer believing that their children will have a brighter future than they is seriously damaging and demoralizing to our society. We must end the health, economic and environmental injustice that affects people’s lives, and it must be done soon.
To that end, the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth was established in the 117th Congress to intervene in the increasing divide. It is molded after the mission of the Temporary National Economic Committee, established by President Roosevelt and the Congress.
As we proceed with this Committee, we must hear from those who have the greatest needs, as well as those with knowledge of the financial instruments that can be helpful. This must be done with respect for people’s dignity and recognition of the scale of the challenge ahead.
The priority of addressing wealth and financial disparity is a broad one, encompassing many concerns and constituencies. That is why I am proud to name the following Members to the Committee, who reflect the array of these challenges:
- Congressman Jim Himes: bringing extensive professional experience from the private sector and in affordable housing, will be Chair
- Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio: focusing on regional economic revitalization
- Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Wisconsin: leading action to close the racial wealth gap
- Congressman Vicente Gonzalez of Texas: recognizing the connection between economic growth and infrastructure connectivity
- Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal of Washington: delivering workers better wages and a brighter future
- Congresswoman Angie Craig of Minnesota: representing the concerns of family farmers and rural communities
- Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York: addressing generational disparities and increasing worker power in the economy
- Congresswoman Sara Jacobs of California: focusing on the future of work with both a family and a global perspective
Working with the Committees of Jurisdiction, the Select Committee will study and recommend proposals to make our economy work for everyone, powering American economic growth while ensuring that no one is left out or left behind in the 21st Century Economy.
In his address to Congress, President Roosevelt further said: “We believe in a way of living in which political democracy and free private enterprise for profit should serve and protect each other – to ensure a maximum of human liberty not for a few but for all.”
That is our mission: with this Committee, we can Build Back Better in a way that ensures liberty, prosperity and opportunity for all.