Washington, D.C.—Today, at a U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) hearing on the economic impact of America’s failure to contain coronavirus, Vice Chair Beyer will explain that the primary reason why the economy is in such bad shape is because President Trump failed from the very beginning to implement a coordinated, national plan to contain the coronavirus.

According to Dr. Ashish K. Jha, one of two Democratic witnesses who will testify at the hearing, such a plan could have prevented a majority of American deaths from the coronavirus.

The nation’s top economists almost universally say that the number one priority for the economy is to contain the coronavirus. Former Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Austan Goolsbee, the second Democratic witness, has put it this way: “the number one rule of virus economics is that you have to stop the virus before you can do anything about economics.”

Vice Chair Beyer:

“Tragically, no one person in our country is more responsible than the person who should be leading the fight to contain the coronavirus—the President of the United States.

“President Trump’s record on the coronavirus is a stunning mix of incompetence, ignorance and callous disregard for human life. He has not contained the coronavirus, but has unleashed it. As a result, many more lives will be lost. And in the long term, the economy will suffer.

“The President’s failure to make even the most meager effort to contain the coronavirus is his economic legacy.”

(Vice Chair Beyer’s written opening statement can be found here.)

Dr. Ashish K. Jha, Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health:

“At this most precarious and uncertain time in our nation’s and our world’s history, we owe
it to our fellow citizens to act expeditiously and steadfastly in our quest to end the COVID-19
pandemic.

“Nine months since our first confirmed case, we continue to feel the painful effects of a
disjointed and, at times, absent, federal response to the pandemic in this country. Tens of millions of Americans remain out of work, millions are sick, and hundreds of thousands are dead.

“We have no national testing strategy, receive muddled guidance from our federal health agencies, and our economy is in its worst state since the Great Depression of 1929. Let me be clear: this does not have to continue.”

(Dr. Jha's written testimony can be found here.)

Dr. Austan D. Goolsbee, Robert P. Gwinn Professor at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business:

“It’s important for everyone to understand that decisions about the economy are not made by mayors and governors and presidents. People make decisions about whether they feel safe and that is what drives the economy. The virus is the boss.

“In my research with Chad Syverson, we got data on consumer visits to 2.5 million businesses across the country in 110 different industries. We wanted to know how important lockdowns were for the unprecedented collapse in consumer activity during the outbreak of the pandemic.

“The problem is, when the disease is spreading, people stay home, the economy craters and the local authorities impose lockdowns. This can make it look like lockdown decisions are driving things but it’s misleading because the policy itself is not the driver. The virus is.”

(Dr. Goolsbee's written testimony can be found here.)

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy.

Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is the Vice Chair.

 

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the Federal Reserve announced that it will leave interest rates near 0% through at least 2023: 

"Even as the Federal Reserve upgraded its economic outlook from June, the central bank made it clear it will take years to dig out from the economic hole we are in, pledging to hold rates at near zero for at least three years. Moreover, Chairman Powell again emphasized the substantial uncertainty facing the economy and what policymakers can do to change it—indeed, those improved forecasts assume additional fiscal action. Clearly, we have much work ahead of us to rebuild the economy. Monetary policy, by itself, will be insufficient. Congress must play a greater role to provide the support people need as we work to contain the coronavirus and rebuild the economy."

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that nonfarm payroll employment increased by 1.4 million in August, a deceleration in job growth from the numbers reported in June and July.

BLS also found that the unemployment rate in August fell to 8.4%. The unemployment rate was13.0% for Black workers and 10.5% for Hispanic workers.

Before Labor Day 2019, total non-farm employment in the United States was 151.2 million. Total non-farm employment is currently 140.9 million—10 million fewer jobs fewer than at the same time last year.

“American workers have lost a lot of ground since last Labor Day. Ten million jobs have disappeared. Almost 14 million Americans are forced to collect unemployment. And 12 million Americans have lost their employer-sponsored health coverage—in the middle of a life-threatening pandemic.

“At the convention last week, President Trump and his party were celebrating as if the economy was booming and the coronavirus had been contained. They are strangely out of touch with what is really going on in America.

“During sworn testimony Tuesday before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said that restoring the federal unemployment benefits supplement and direct payments to families is critical to the nation’s recovery. Democrats could not agree more, which is why the $3 trillion Heroes Act passed by the House in May restores both of these relief measures.

“Now, nearly four months later with 40 million people facing eviction, Senate Republicans are still hemming and hawing about how much is too much relief to give Americans and their families. For whatever reason Senate Republicans cannot see what the rest of us are seeing: as relief from the federal government has slowed—or stopped altogether in some cases—so has the recovery.”

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.

September 3, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Labor Department statistics this morning showed that initial unemployment claims rose again, for the fourth week in a row, to just under 1.6 million total. This report marks the 24th week in a row with more initial jobless claims than any week of the Great Recession, and points again to a stalling economic recovery amid declining government stimulus.

While some headlines wrongly reported the figure “fell” last week due to a change in DOL’s method of seasonal adjustment, the more accurate non seasonally adjusted figures and the inclusion of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims show that the number rose significantly, again. American workers who file unemployment claims through PUA, including gig workers, self-employed, contractors, and more also support families facing desperate situations and deserve to be counted and included in coverage of the country’s worsening economic crisis.

“This week’s jobs data continues to show a weakening recovery and an economy in need of greatly increased government stimulus,” said Rep. Beyer. “The increase in self-employed workers, gig workers, contractors, and others filing new PUA claims is especially troubling and points to the enormous amount of need for increased assistance. The President’s smoke and mirrors executive actions have done little to help. The White House must stop posturing and return to the negotiating table so we can move forward on providing real relief for American families.”

As the White House continues to stall negotiations on further economic stimulus, with the White House Chief of Staff saying “we’re not going to negotiate here” earlier this week, the first state to implement the President’s cut-in-half enhanced unemployment benefits said Wednesday that the fund providing those benefits may already be depleted.

Rep. Beyer serves as the Vice Chair and top Member of the House on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, and is the author of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would tie enhanced federal unemployment benefits to public health crisis declarations and economic conditions.

August 28, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Rep. Don Beyer today blasted the Trump Administration’s announcement that it would begin deferring withholding payroll taxes in September for federal employees, a move that could hit thousands with unanticipated large tax bills next year. Beyer, who represents the largest number of federal employees of any U.S. Representative, serves on the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, which has jurisdiction over tax policy.

“The Trump Administration’s plan to initiate payroll tax deferrals for civil servants treats the federal workforce as a guinea pig for a bad policy that businesses already rejected as ‘unworkable,’” said Beyer. “This payroll tax deferral does not really put money in workers’ pockets, it simply sets up the members of the federal workforce who can least afford it for a big tax bill that many will not expect. Like Donald Trump’s other economic executive orders, this will not provide actual relief to workers, it is just another gimmick intended to give the appearance of action as the White House continues to stall negotiations for a real stimulus package. The legal authority for this announcement is at best dubious, the policy will do more harm than good, and I intend to press the Administration about this.”

The announcement on payroll tax deferral for federal employees, made in a memo published by the National Finance Center, followed President Trump’s Executive Order “deferring payroll tax obligations” issued on August 8. Business groups previously rejected the order as “unfair” and “unworkable.”

The National Finance Center’s (NFC) legal authority to issue such a proclamation in the absence of guidance from the Treasury Department is highly dubious.

The Social Security Administration’s Chief Actuary wrote to members of the Senate earlier this week that the Trump Administration’s plan to defer payroll tax contributions would force Social Security benefit cuts by 2021 and “permanently deplete” a key Social Security trust fund by 2023.

August 25, 2020 (Washington, D.C.) – Monday marked two weeks since Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin predicted states would have the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) unemployment program created by Executive Order up and running within two weeks, but only two states—representing less than 10 percent of national continuing unemployment insurance claims—reported having actually distributed aid through the program. Even in those states only a fraction of eligible recipients received payments to date, so the actual figure is likely significantly lower.

Guidance from the Department of Labor and FEMA indicated that states approved for LWA are only guaranteed to receive three weeks of the cut-in-half unemployment benefit, dependent on the level of funding remaining in FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). According to FEMA the DRF “fund(s) eligible response and recovery efforts associated with domestic major disasters and emergencies;” major disasters have been declared recently in Iowa, California, and several gulf states.

“Economists, governors, and workers widely agree that President Trump’s smoke and mirrors executive orders simply are not good enough,” said Rep. Don Beyer, Vice Chair of Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. “It has been a month now since Senate Republicans shamefully allowed enhanced unemployment benefits to expire. The American people need real relief that fights the pandemic and puts money in workers’ pockets – posturing and gimmicks will not solve the enormous problems they face. If the White House does not get serious about the level of aid that is needed it will imperil the economic recovery.”

The White House has continued to resist compromise on a new economic relief package, and growing numbers of American families are suffering without the help they need from the federal government. The Administration began the week with more false claims about the economy and boasts about the stock market, but clear warning signs abound:

Washington Post: Debt, eviction and hunger: Millions fall back into crisis as stimulus and safety nets vanish

CNBC: Economists see a chance of a double-dip recession, survey shows

Bloomberg: Millions of U.S. Jobs to Be Lost for Years, IRS Projections Show

Politico: Economy hurting after Congress fails to act on stimulus

Washington Post: President Trump’s attempt to bypass Congress on stimulus is offering only limited economic relief

Business Insider: Trump says the economy is quickly recovering from the pandemic. But 4 jarring statistics blow a hole in his argument.

New York Times: Unemployment Claims Rise as Rollout of $300 Benefit Lags

Associated Press: Rise in jobless claims reflects still-struggling US economy

CNBC: The rise in jobless claims may be a warning to Congress that the economy needs stimulus

CBS: Economy is slumping again as Washington puts stimulus on hold

Financial Times: Trump’s executive orders provide little money for jobless

Forbes: $300 Weekly Unemployment Payments Are ‘Too Little Too Late’ To Prop Up August Spending, Goldman Sachs Says

USA Today: 'We shouldn’t have to beg': Americans struggle without unemployment aid as Congress stalls on extending benefits

Politico: ‘Not just a low-wage recession’: White-collar workers feel coronavirus squeeze

Atlantic: The Pandemic Recession Is Approaching a Dire Turning Point

Rep. Beyer serves as the Vice Chair and top Democrat on Congress’ Joint Economic Committee, and is the author of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would tie enhanced federal unemployment benefits to public health crisis declarations and economic conditions.

Washington, DC—Today, on the 85th anniversary of the Social Security Act, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released two reports on the weakening of the American retirement system.

The first report, titled “Retirement Insecurity,” explores why retirement isn’t a reality for all Americans. (This report was released for the first time last year and is being re-released with a new preface and updated data where available.) The second report, titled “The Impact of the Coronavirus Recession on Older Workers,” explores the challenges older workers face—those aged 55-64 who are approaching retirement age, and those 65+—as a result of the economic recession and the coronavirus crisis that caused it.

Social Security is the foundation of the American retirement system. Nearly half of all Social Security beneficiaries over 65 get a majority of their retirement income from Social Security, and one fifth get over 90 percent of their income from it. These retirees rely heavily on Social Security—our nation’s retirement program—because employer-based retirement plans and personal savings have proven to be inadequate for them.

Other findings in the reports include:

  1. The American retirement system was traditionally thought of as a “three-legged stool”—private savings, employer-based pensions or retirement plans, and Social Security benefits. Now, only one leg of this stool—Social Security—provides guaranteed benefits. The other two have been worn down and weakened, largely because employers have shifted the burden of providing retirement security back onto workers themselves.
  2. The coronavirus crisis has made a bad situation worse—particularly for older workers. For these workers, staying in the workforce is dangerous because the coronavirus targets their age group and leaving the workforce is dangerous as well because the economic recession makes planning for retirement even more difficult.
  3. Women and people of color have a particularly tough time when it comes to retirement as a result of wage discrimination and other economic inequalities.

From Congressman Don Beyer, Vice Chair of the JEC:

“There are workers who say, ‘I’m going to retire next year,’ and then the next year comes and they say the same thing. In a lot of cases their health or the health of a loved one is failing, and they are putting off retirement because working one more year will increase their monthly Social Security benefits by fifty bucks—fifty bucks!

“That is not what an American retirement system that works for everyone looks like. We need to make sure all American workers—no matter their race, gender, occupation, salary and employer—can retire with dignity when it is time. That means strengthening Social Security, which is why I am proud to support legislation my colleague Congressman Larson has introduced that will do just that. That also means creating a public 401K option so all Americans who want a retirement plan can have one and the savings they accumulate follow them from employer to employer.”

From Congressman John B. Larson (D-CT), Way and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman and Co-Chair of the Expand Social Security Caucus:

“Social Security is the foundation of our nation’s retirement system. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear now more than ever that we need to act to expand and strengthen the program so that its benefits keep up with costs that seniors incur in retirement. Throughout its 85-year history, Social Security has never missed a payment. These are Americans’ earned benefits that seniors depend on for financial security. Women and people of color rely on these benefits even more, and Social Security helps to partially mitigate in retirement the inequalities they’ve experienced in the labor market. I’m proud to work with Vice Chair Beyer to strengthen our nation’s number one anti-poverty program, Social Security, and ensure that future generations of retirees can continue to count on its guaranteed benefits.”

From Teresa Ghilarducci, Irene and Bernard L. Schwartz Professor of Economics and Policy Analysis at The New School, and Director of The New School's Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis and its Retirement Equity Lab:

“Around the country, older workers are facing dire choices. 'Greatly increase your chance of contracting a deadly virus by returning to work or spend the rest of your life in poverty.' 'Work forever or retire and run out of food and water.'

“This is not what aging with dignity looks like. Hard working Americans deserve, and are in fact owed, a secure retirement. Sadly our Retirement System is broken and works only for the few. On the 85th Anniversary of Social Security, it is time we commit to upholding the program's intended aim—to ensure a dignified retirement to workers of all races, genders, and income levels. To do this we must expand Social Security and provide all workers with a universal, non-predatory, guaranteed savings account.”

Only 40 percent of Americans have any savings at all in retirement accounts, and among these the typical account balance is $40,000—far short of the recommended savings target of six times current income at age 50. Women, Black and Hispanic Americans are worse off because of the economic inequalities that they experience throughout their careers. In addition, 50 percent of American workers are at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Even those who take extraordinary steps—like working until 65 (five years past the current average retirement age), annuitizing all financial assets or reverse-mortgaging their homes—may not be able to maintain their current standard of living.

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.

Washington, D.C.—Today, Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), the Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement on Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, August 13th, which symbolizes the large gap between the median wages for Black women and non-Hispanic white men.

The median hourly wage for non-Hispanic white men in 2019 was $23.93, while the median hourly wage for Black women was $15.79. As a result, a hypothetical Black woman would have to work all of 2019 and until August 13, 2020, to earn what her non-Hispanic white counterpart would earn in 2019 alone.

In other words, the median Black woman earns 66 cents for every dollar made by a non-Hispanic, white man. For every dollar earned by a non-Hispanic white man, white women make 80 cents, Latinx women make 62 cents, Asian American women make 92 cents.

“On Tuesday, my congressional colleague Senator Kamala Harris became the first Black woman vice presidential nominee for a major party ticket. While we should all celebrate this history-making moment, we cannot ignore the immense inequities that Black women still face.

“The gender wage gap not only hurts Black women, it also hurts their families since many, like a lot of women, are sole or co-breadwinners.

“This is particularly problematic during the current economic recession since Black women are more likely to be on the frontlines doing work in health care and other essential industries that increase their risk of contracting the coronavirus. Not only should they be paid the same as their white male counterparts for this work, they should also receive additional pay for risking their lives, not treated as if they are disposable. 

“Despite being on the frontlines, Black women are also more likely to lose their jobs during the current economic recession. Currently, the unemployment rate for Black women is 13.5 percent—3.3 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate nationally and 3.9 percentage points higher than the unemployment rate for white women.

“Women and men in the same job deserve the same pay. Anything less than that is unjust and un-American. That is why I am a proud co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act.”

Congressman Beyer is a co-sponsor of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would help eliminate the gender pay gap by holding employers accountable for discrimination, ending the practice of pay secrecy, easing workers’ ability to challenge pay discrimination, strengthening the available remedies for wronged employees, and prohibiting employers from asking about prospective employees’ salary history.

About Congressman Beyer

Congressman Don Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. In addition to his role as Vice Chair of the JEC, Beyer serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Previously, Beyer served as the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and Ambassador to Switzerland, and built a successful family business over the course of four decades.

About the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee

The U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee is Congress’s bicameral economic think tank. It was created when Congress passed the Employment Act of 1946. Under this Act, Congress established two advisory panels: the President's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and the JEC. Their primary tasks are to review economic conditions and to recommend improvements in economic policy. Chairmanship of the JEC alternates between the Senate and House every Congress. Currently, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is the Chair and Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA) is Vice Chair.