Speaker Pelosi Names Jim Himes as Chair of Economic Disparity & Fairness in Growth Select Committee
Hello. Hello. Is this the first time I'm seeing you? First time we've been together without masks or something. That's right. great. That's who you are sitting out there. Thank you all for being here this afternoon. It's been a busy time. We're so proud of our
president as he represents our country and our values in these days over there with Nato Eu. the Gseven Nato Eu. And now, Putin. I'm just very proud of him and so we're all sort of in the aftermath of his visit but our work here has continued as does his for our country even when he's away. Let me just quote a couple of headlines. You and UN warns that run away inequality is to world's democracies beyond pandemics, upheaval, A racial wealth divide endures How that would be the chairman of of the Fed Powell Defense Federal reserves attention to inequality post-pandemic economy will boom but not for all. That is really what brings
us together for us to come together to build an economy where the prosperity is shared by all Americans. II in December, December, 30th, I put out a statement announcing that our rules package would contain provisions for a select committee and that is what we did. However, We are are now. I am now announcing the members of that committee because as you know, we had unforeseen events following December. 7th
that have, excuse me, December 30th that I've taken up our time. The select committee is called the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and fairness in growth It is predicated on something said by Franklin Roosevelt when he something called the Nash, the temporary national committee. the temporary National Economic Committee and this is what he said at the time, the liberty of a democracy is not safe. If the people tolerate the growth of the private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democracy. and the
democratic state itself, the liberty of a democracy is not safe. If the business system does not provide employment and produce and distribute goods in a way as to sustain acceptable standard of living. He went on to say in a message to congress, he made this announcement and address to congress He said, we believe in a way of living in which political democracy and free enterprise free private enterprise for profit should serve and protect each other to ensure a maximum of human liberty. not for the few but for all. So, in that
spirit, we have established This Select Committee. I'm very proud of those who have accepted the invitation to join the committee and I will be acknowledging them in a moment. I know it's very clear the widening chasm between CEOs CEO compensation worker pay has gone from unfair to immoral the stagnation of worker pay an historic picture of injustice maybe 40 years ago, if you saw our economy, you would see if productivity rose worker, payroll, CEO pay raises, within the past forty, more like 35 years, it started to be productivity rises wages, stagnate CEO pay increases, I call it a right angle going in the wrong direction to the point where some CEOs make in a few weeks. what their entry level employees make in a lifetime. in a lifetime. So,
the question is, let us define the challenge and hear from those most affected by it most in need. Most concerned about the diminishing of the luster of the American dream because that has a very demoralizing effect on our country. Everybody has to think that they and their families will have a better future than their parents and when that is dulled again, not good for our country. I have more to say on this but I want you to hear from our distinguished chair who has agreed to take on this responsibility. He, I'll use
his words to describe him and that is that Jim Hines is a member of the financial services committee. I'm sure you probably know that but he wants Bring extensive professional experience from the private sector. where he was before and in affordable housing which is very important and to reducing the actual racial divide in equity in our country. I'm pleased that he has for a time now. one of the
motivations for putting this together was that people were coming with suggestions whether it's about housing, whether it was about a sovereign fund in order to use the profits to help the neediest in our country. A 50 year with low interest rate. You know, everybody had different suggestions, how housing could impact a fairness and equity and I would always just refer to mister Hines and say, could you, could you take these meetings? Can you see how they could be incorporated into our regular order with our committees and but it just became so much that we decided to have a select committee on that. This select committee will work with the committees of jurisdiction, the standing committees of jurisdiction. It
couldn't be and by the team that we have assembled here. Let us start with our distinguished chairman, Jim Hines of this great state of Connecticut. Well, thank you, Speaker Pelosi. Thank you for shining a light on this on this really critical, if not, the critical, certainly, one of the critical problems facing our country today and thank you for the confidence that you've placed in me to share this important Committee and I'm just grateful for the members of this committee who are going to bring perspectives from literally every corner of America and different generations and and and different ways of thinking about thing. I'm I'm just
delighted that we've got this this diversity and this these hardworking and committed members This is this is very personal for me. I've represent Connecticut's fourth congressional district now for coming on 13 years. and I can endure every single day as much as I love my district deal with the shock of one moment standing amongst great wealth rolling lawns, big houses, automobiles, sailboats, 10. Minutes later, I can be in a in an apartment of a single working mom who does not know where the money will come from to feed her children that evening. And that's not okay by anybody's standards or by anybody's political party. It's
fundamentally unamerican to that that level of unfairness exists professionally. I've seen this as well. Yes, I worked in high but I also spent a year amongst the poor of the South Bronx trying to understand how we can better serve them in the realm of financial services. It's not just me. every single member of congress experiences this in slightly different ways and slightly different context but this is an American problem. It
may not be a partisan problem but it is a problem that we must solve. It is a danger to our economy because if enough, people feel like they don't have a stake in that economy that they don't have access to the American dream. Eventually, they will lose faith in the idea that they could benefit from the American dream. It is a threat to our political system because if enough Americans come to believe that the government that protects their economy doesn't deliver the basic needs that they need. that doesn't deliver basic justice and fairness. They will lose faith in that ecosystem and it offends our moral sensibilities. I'm a big
believer that members of congress should be careful about being arbiters of moral sensitivity. So, let me just close by quoting a pastoral letter by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. This was in 1986 when the problem was not nearly as intense as it is today and the bishops wrote in 1986 more than 33 million Americans about one in every seven people in our nation are poor by the government's official definition. The norms
human dignity and the preferential option for the poor compel us to confront this issue with a sense of urgency, Dealing with poverty is not a luxury to which our nation can attend when it finds the time and resources rather it it is moral imperative of the highest priority. I know that every member up here feels that moral imperative. We are going to do our best. We are going to be open minded. We are going to
try to make this a problem solving Committee. not yet another platform for us. To express our political animosity but to deal with this moral imperative of the highest priority. Thank you, madam speaker. Thank you, mister chairman. We do not have the
names yet from the Republican side for their appointees but they are in the works and I hope they will be in short order coming forth forth. As we said, this is not about partisanship. it's about how we meet the needs of the American people and the best possible way. I did want to our members
stand ready to take any of your questions but I just want to them. Congresswoman Marcy captured madam Chair just came over from the appropriations who's focusing on regional economic revitalization Gwen Moore of here. she is of Wisconsin leading to close the racial wealth gap Representative Shante Gonzalez from Texas recognizing the ties between economic growth and infrastructure connectivity.
Pramila Jayapal who's not with us. She's with us but she is and we have meetings. This is a working farm just because they have a press conference doesn't mean everything else stops Congresswoman Jayapal will be delivering workers better wages and a brighter future. That's
her focus representative Angie Oh and she's of Washington State Representative Angie Craig of Minnesota, Minnesota. is representing family farmers and rural communities. Their concerns. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-cortez addressing generational dispute disparities and again, increasing more power in the economy and representative Sarah Jacobs of California focusing on the future of work with a both a family and a global perspective. I thank
them for their participation and I'm sure they'll be pleased to take any questions that you may have. Yes, sir. Madam speaker, along these lines, there's a lot of discussion about how to pay for Okay. if I just, I'll be happy to go back to that but I just want to talk about this collective and this is this. Oh, I see you. Would you like to see the congress consider and pass attacks on wealth on unrealized asset gains? That the super wealthy, the Jets let me repeat what I said at the beginning. the purpose of the select committee is to measure the problem and consider and that perhaps be one of the initiatives that would be under consideration I thought you were going to the infrastructure which I'm happy to go to after I finish this. Thank you. Yes, sir. Madam
speaker of the Federal Reserves expectations for installation for the rest of the year. I was wondering how concerned you are about this rising cause of inflation and how maybe the committee or how you might address it for low-income Americans, The the issue of inflation is one that I started out Congress on the then called the banking housing and Urban Affairs Commission. Now, Committee now called financial Services and the very first one of the very first meetings we had with the then chairman of the Fed and I was very, very practically like this with the guests, you know, right in that first row of which they were like four, you know, Marcy, you were seniors to me but we've been there. you know what I'm saying? And the chair of the Fed said, When we were discussing inflation because he was reporting on inflation and unemployment. Humphrey Hawkins, he said, when asked about inflation, he said, unemployment is dangerously low unemployment is. Remember that
Marcy? Yeah. Oh Oh my Unemployment is dangerously low. The issue of inflation has been addressed by the chairman of the Fed and the secretary of the treasurer who have said should there be something of concern. We have the tools to deal with it. but it should not stand in the way of an increase of and employment in our country Any of our colleagues want to speak to inflation.
Mister chairman I'm not going to front run. the the the conclusions of the committee but but but but here's how it relates to the Committee. If you have a $1000 in the bank which most Americans don't but that's that's not a wealthy person. If you have a $1000 in the bank inflation attacks that $1000, it makes it less valuable if you have a lot more in stocks and commodities and swaps.
Those are those grow with inflation. So it's yet another example about how inflation will if it does come and it's a debate right now yet again create a structural problem for those who are trying to the ladder. and my colleagues, you're invited to chime in on any of these if you wish you good morning. Oh, I'm sorry. Thank you II. Don't know what the thrust of your question is but what we have been told by folk like Janet yelling for example and economists on both sides of the aisle is that worrying about inflation should be secondary to what we have just done as things The American Rescue Plan where we spent money to bail people out of the circumstances they were in due to no fault of their own. So, while inflation is a problem, I again, as the speaker said, the Fed has tools to do that. We have right now.
we have very, very low interest rates and they have tools to be able to do that but I think that our focus inflation in the midst of this crisis is inappropriate and again, conservatives, Republicans, Democrats have agreed to that Marcy, thank you, Gwen. I view my job on this committee and I want to thank the speaker very much for her attention to the serious situation facing millions of people in our country and the lack of real wealth creation for some regions being very, very serious as our chief in terms of inflation, I think you have to go back and look. If you look back in the 1980s, we went into deep recession because of rising oil prices over $4 a gallon for a price of gas. So, there was high inflation but why did that happen? It happened because we were dependent. We were not
independent as a country. We are now about 95% independent for the moment in terms of energy production here in our country and we have to keep up the pace. If you look back at the of 2008 and you look at housing inflation. That was a Wall street induced collapse and people made a lot of money.
So, you can look at housing inflation but there were reasons that that happened. Our job has to be to create wealth and a path to the middle class for every American and for those who have lost footing and there are millions in my region that have we have to look at how we put Humpty Dumpty back together again in the various regions of this country. I think that We're just coming out of this pandemic and I think some of the inflation we see right now, if you look at gas prices for example, I think we see an oil and gas industry that is worried about competition and I'm not saying that the increase in price isn't a natural market function. However, I think it is also a hedge against what they see coming down the road in terms of real competition and we are all here for real competition. Thank you. I just, my name is Angie Craig. I represent Minnesota's second congressional district and right now, if you look above that district about 60% of it's going to be covered in corn and soybeans. So, hopefully that
frames my district for you. You know, one way we can Derik inflation is long-term investment in infrastructure. So, I'm coming back to this original question that we had if we want to make sure that we lower inflation, we've got to start planning and thinking about what is happening in the run and I think we've let this issue of income and equality. I'm representing the part of this Select Committee that's going to focus on rural communities across our nation and the best way that we can create good-paying jobs in rural communities is a long-term investment in infrastructure and that will also derik inflation Thank you so much Speaker Pelosi and thank you and congratulations to our new chairman and I'm and as well as all of our new colleagues on this committee. I think this is
an extremely important moment You know, on the question of inflation, I'd, I have the privilege of serving on financial services as well alongside Representative Hines and we've had Chairman Powell come in quite a few times for the last one to 2 years and one of the things that is slowly emerging around the around questions of inflation, employment etcetera is that the traditional relationships that the Fed has and trends that the Fed has relied on regarding questions of full employment and inflation have been directly challenged by the macroeconomic developments and trends that we've seen in the last two to 3 years To the point that Chairman Powell himself has has kind of talked about these relationships now being at a faint heartbeat when we thought they were almost macroeconomic law in a way and I think that one of the things that would be interesting for us to examine is that we should probably revisit some of the basic macroeconomic assumptions about the US economy and not take for granted that inflation is due to one thing or another or that full employment is impossible in the United States of America and I believe that's been reiterated at the White House with very promising with with very promising assertions and ambitious goals and trying to make sure that every American has a dignified job. Thank you. Thank you. Well, thank you all. Thank you, madam speaker for appointing me to this Select Committee. I'm honored to be serving with all of you and with you mister chair, I'll just echo what my colleagues have said, You know, we've actually prior to COVID-19. We were under our inflation targets. You know,
the feds sets of inflation target of two to 3%. We were not reaching that for many, many years and so this also could be a natural rebalancing of our economy and I know some some people like say that the inflation is in part because of the deficit spending but you know, I think if you ask any business person if they'll take on some debt to make the investments they know grow their business. 99% of the time, they'll say yes and that's exactly what we're working on now, making the investments. we know we need to make in order to grow our economy and grow our economy equitably and so, I think that's exactly what we're going to be looking on this committee and and that's why I'm so excited to be part of it. Thank Thank you. Thank you, madam
speaker and thank you chairman. He's a pleasure to be here and serve on this very important Committee to close the inequality gap in districts such as mine. I represent one of the poorest congressional districts in the country. The largest population that is not connected with the Interstate Highway 1 of the largest gaps in in connectivity is in our district and this gives us an opportunity not just districts like mine but across the country to ensure that when we divide the the pie of American prosperity. It's fair and equitable for Americans across the country regardless of the region or the color or the religion of of of your background and that it's a real opportunity for prosperity for all Americans and thank you very much. Well, thank you all
very much for agreeing to serve for being with us today. Congresswoman Jayapal is an enthusiastic member of this group as well and I'm sure she'll be available for questions for any of you, I have to tell you this though, the Juneteenth Juneteenth vote is on the floor right now. So, we're going to have, if you want to just say very quickly because we'll be in trouble. They're holding the door open for us. You could you comment on Senator Mansions efforts to get a voting rights bill through the senate. He proposed a variety of changes to the bill. You've already passed. Do
you feel hopeful about that? Yes, I agree with the changes. No, no some I've seen the changes that he has suggested we've discussed that this is a negotiation in the senate. however and I think there's a and as I said on TV on Sunday, I haven't given up on him. We must pass the legislation. It's not about Democrats or Republicans. it's about our
democracy and the clock is ticking on our democracy when it comes to the sanctity of the vote. So, I'm I'm I'm optimistic and hopeful. Yes, sir. Piece of legislation is very much related to this idea of addressing income. Opportunity. Disparity is HR.
Forty is the reparations. You know what? I'm going to be here tomorrow morning for my issues conference so we can go a field then but right now in relationship to that Sheila Jackson Lee has a vote on the floor to declare Juneteenth which is June 19th, a national holiday. So, we're going to have to excuse ourselves. I'll
see you tomorrow if you wish. Thank you. Thank you.