Yellen: "We're Going To Build Our Economy Back Better," Address Gender And Racial Disparities | Video | RealClearPolitics

Yellen: "We're Going To Build Our Economy Back Better," Address Gender And Racial Disparities


Former Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen promised that the Biden administration will "build our economy back better" and meet the "obligation" to "address deeper structural problems" like gender and racial equity disparities. Yellen said the new economy will "include everyone" at an event held by President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday announcing his economic team.

Yellen's full remarks:

YELLEN: Thank you, Mr. President-elect and Madam Vice President-elect. It's my great honor to have this opportunity to serve you and the American people and to join this incredible economic team at this moment of great challenge for our country. Mr. President-elect, when you reflect on what your father taught you about how we a job is much more than a paycheck, I hear my own father who raised our family in working class Brooklyn.

When he graduated from medical school during the Great Depression, he looked for a home and a place to hang his shingle near the Brooklyn docks. Back then, Bush terminal on the upper New York Bay was a thriving hub for manufacturing and transportation and for the union workers whose livelihoods depended on them.

Knowing they didn't have cars, my father found a home near a bus line. He started his family practice in the basement while we lived on the floors above. At the end of the day, he would talk to me, my brother, and my mom about what work meant to his patient. Our friends and neighbors, especially if they lost a job. The financial problems, the family problems, the health problems, the loss of dignity and self-worth.

The value of work always stuck with me. So much so that I became an economist because I was concerned about the tool of unemployment on people on people, families, and communities. And I've spent my career trying to make sure people can work and achieve the dignity and self-worth that comes with it.

Mr. President-elect, I know you've done the same. I saw that understanding during the last Great Recession and the Recovery Act that followed. And now we're facing historic crises again. The pandemic and economic fallout that together have caused so much damage for so many and have had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable among us. Lost lives, loss jobs, small businesses, struggling to stay alive or closed for good, so many people struggling to put food on the table and pay bills and rent.

It's an American tragedy. And it's essential that we move with urgency. Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation. And we miss--we risk missing the obligation to address deeper structural problems, inequality, stagnant wages, especially for workers who lack a college education. Communities that have seen industry disappear with no good jobs replacing the lost ones. Racial disparities and pay, job opportunities, housing, food security, and small business lending that deny wealth building to communities of color.

Gender disparities that keep women out of the workforce and keep our economy from running at full force. It's a convergence of tragedies that is not only economically unsustainable, but one that betrays our commitment to giving every American an equal chance to get ahead.

But I know this team will never give up that commitment. As you said before, Mr. President-elect, out of our collective pain as a nation we will find collective purpose to control the pandemic and build our economy back better than before, to rebuild our infrastructure and create better jobs, to invest in our workforce, to advance racial equity and make sure the economic recovery includes everyone.

To address the climate crisis with American ingenuity and American jobs, working together with the outstanding national security and foreign policy team you announced last week to help restore America's global leadership.

And above all, we share your belief in the American dream of a society where each person's effort can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children. I pledge as Treasury secretary to work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all Americans. And to the great public servants of the Treasury Department, I look forward to working with you and Wally to rebuild the public trust.

To the American people, we will be an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you, your jobs, your paychecks, your struggles, your hopes, your dignity, and your limitless potential. Thank you.
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