WASHINGTON—Congressman Don Beyer (VA-8) has been elected Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) by the Committee’s members.

“I thank my colleagues from both parties and chambers for confirming me to this position. I look forward to working with all of them and Chairman Lee in 2020 to tackle the enormous challenges facing the U.S. economy,” Congressman Beyer said.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi recommended Congressman Beyer for the post. He replaces Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who stepped down as Vice Chair to chair the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Congressman Beyer represents Virginia’s 8th District, which encompasses Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and parts of Fairfax County. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. He was the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 1990 to 1998, and Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein under President Obama.

The JEC is a joint House-Senate committee that holds hearings and issues reports to help inform Congress’ actions on economic issues. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is Chairman of the committee in the 116th Congress. Senator Lee and Representative Beyer are joined by nine Republican and nine Democratic members.

Democratic members are Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Rep. Beyer, Rep. Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA), Rep. David Trone (D-MD), Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL).

Republican members are Sen. Lee, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) and Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). 

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi today recommended Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) to serve as the Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee. If confirmed to the position, Beyer would succeed Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, following her election as Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform.

Beyer issued the following statement:

“I thank Speaker Pelosi for her trust and the confidence she has shown by recommending me to lead Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee. Stewardship of the U.S. economy is one of the most important challenges facing Congress, and I will approach this responsibility with the gravity it deserves.

“As someone who built a small family-owned business, I understand the challenges facing the American economy. Through my career in public service from Richmond to the Obama Administration, and today as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I have continued to believe that government can be a force for good in helping to support American workers.

“I will bring these perspectives and my progressive values with me in the fight to address the major economic challenges of our time, including growing inequality, wage stagnation, the climate crisis, and the cost of healthcare. I look forward to working with Chairman Mike Lee and all of my colleagues on the Joint Economic Committee in 2020 and beyond.”

The Speaker’s recommendation must be confirmed by a vote of the full committee to take effect. If confirmed, Beyer, who has the most seniority of the House Democrats on the committee after outgoing Vice Chair Carolyn Maloney, will serve as the top Democrat on the panel. Leadership of the Joint Economic Committee alternates between the Senate and House each Congress, and the committee is currently chaired by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT).

The Joint Economic Committee (JEC) was established by Congress in 1946 as part of the Employment Act, which also created the President’s Council of Economic Advisers. The JEC is charged with reviewing and reporting on economic conditions, and with making policy recommendations to boost the economy. In this capacity it holds annual hearings with the chairs of the Federal Reserve and the Council of Economic Advisers, in addition to hearings on other topics affecting the American economy.

Beyer is currently serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Northern Virginia suburbs of the nation’s capital. He serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Beyer is co-chair of the Safe Climate Caucus, co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition Climate Change Task Force, and founder and co-chair of the bipartisan House Suicide Prevention Task Force. He is a Member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the New Democrat Coalition, the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and the Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition. He represents the largest number of federal employees of any member of the House.

Beyer directed the Obama Administration’s transition at the Department of Commerce and then served as U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein for four years. He served two terms as Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor from 1990-1998, and previously owned and ran a successful family business for over 40 years.

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, issued the following statement after the JEC’s Democratic staff published the study, “Two Years of Evidence Shows 2017 Tax Cuts Failed to Deliver Promised Economic Boost.” The publication coincides with the two-year anniversary of the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

“With the two-year anniversary of the Republican tax cuts upon us, we now have enough economic data to say definitively that they failed to deliver for American workers and families. President Trump had boasted the tax cuts would boost GDP growth to as high as 6 percent, increase annual income for families by $4,000 and help pay down the national debt. The facts show that these claims are fantastical.”

“The report shows that the 2017 tax law didn’t provide a sustained boost to GDP growth, nor did it significantly increase business investment and result in huge gains in household income. Americans would be right to feel cheated.”

“Inequality was already at an all-time high when the legislation was passed—it made things much worse. And it isn’t on track—as the administration had claimed—to “pay for itself;” instead, it will add almost $2 trillion to the national debt. That will make it harder for policymakers to fight the next recession and has already prompted Republicans to consider cuts to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.”

“Many economists agree that enacting tax cuts for the poor and middle class rather than the wealthy would have provided a solid boost to the economy. And the tax cuts had a higher price tag than many of the investments that would pay this country dividends for generations. For example, the tax cuts will cost more than twice as much as repairing our nation’s crumbling highway system. And just think what we could have done to improve childhood education with nearly $2 trillion. It’s now all too clear the tax cuts were a missed opportunity of massive proportions.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, issued the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payroll employment grew by 266,000 in November and the unemployment rate was 3.5 percent. Average hourly earnings increased 3.1 percent from the prior year.

“The job market has shown remarkable resilience in the face of the president’s increasingly erratic trade policies. But let’s not forget that Americans in many communities and parts of society still find it hard to get a well-paying job. Meanwhile the Trump administration is set on making things worse by proposing cuts to nutrition assistance; like Scrooge in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, they chose the holiday season to punish households of the less fortunate.”

“There’s so much we can do to further shore up the economy and address persistent inequalities. I call on the administration to preserve and strengthen the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), rather than weaken it. And as Congress makes year-end appropriations decisions, I urge inclusion of paid leave legislation backed by the House that would allow federal workers to care for a child or sick family member without facing financial hardship. In addition, it’s important for Congress to approve a bill that would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis to report economic growth by income decile and the top 1 percent. That would help us measure inequality and implement programs and policies to ensure that everyone in this country can enjoy the benefits of economic growth.”

Congresswoman Maloney, author of the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act (H.R. 1534), introduced the bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in June along with Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA). Congresswoman Maloney also introduced the Measuring Real Income Growth Act (H.R. 707) this Congress and in the 115th Congress. The legislation would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis to publish distributional analyses of gross domestic product.

Congresswoman Maloney is Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.

Press contact
Randy Woods
Randy_Woods@jec.senate.gov
(202) 224-2599

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, highlighted in a hearing today that segments of the U.S. population are still struggling despite a record-long economic recovery and low unemployment.

She was speaking at a hearing with Jerome H. Powell, who appeared before the JEC for the first time as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. He discussed his outlook on the economy in a critical moment for the Federal Reserve, which is attempting to keep unemployment low without allowing consumer prices to increase substantially. Underlying the hearing is the question of whether the economy has reached full employment.

Noting that inflation “remains comfortably below the Fed target rate,” Congresswoman Maloney asked Chairman Powell whether the Federal Reserve could allow the job market to tighten even further to draw more people into the workforce.

In a response that some interpreted as favoring low interest rates, Chairman Powell noted that the strong job market “has many beneficial side effects, including pulling people back into the labor market, including wages moving up for people at the lower end of the wage spectrum. So there's a lot to like about today's labor market, and we'd like to see it continue strong and we're using our tools to try to make that happen.”

You can watch today’s hearing, as well as read prepared testimony from Chairman Powell and Vice Chair Maloney’s opening statement, by clicking here.

Here are excerpts from Vice Chair Maloney’s opening statement:

  • “Not all demographic groups have shared equally in the economic growth of the past decade. As members of Congress, we need to serve all Americans.”
  • “[I]nflation remains comfortably below the Fed target rate. Which raises the question: has the traditional relationship between unemployment and inflation weakened? If it has, why? Is it downward price pressure from around the globe? Or, increased market concentration in certain industries in the United States eroding worker bargaining power?”
  • “And what if unemployment is extremely low – suggesting that we are at full employment, but the unemployment rate for African Americans or Latinos remains much higher? What if the unemployment rate for people in some communities, or those who work in some occupations, is stubbornly high? These are questions with wide-ranging implications for both fiscal and monetary policy.”
  • “Manufacturing is in recession, business investment has been shrinking for the past two quarters and productivity fell last quarter for the first time since 2015. Some of these more troubling developments may be a sign of a possible end to our decade-long economic expansion. Or a slow fade from the ‘sugar high’ of the 2017 tax cuts. But the most likely cause of economic uncertainty is the President’s trade war.”

Here are excerpts from Chairman Powell’s prepared testimony:

  • “Significant differences, however, persist across different groups of workers and different areas of the country: Unemployment rates for African Americans and Hispanics are still well above the jobless rates for whites and Asians, and the proportion of the people with a job is lower in rural communities.”
  • “Looking ahead, my colleagues and I see a sustained expansion of economic activity, a strong labor market, and inflation near our symmetric 2 percent objective as most likely.”
  • “However, noteworthy risks to this outlook remain. In particular, sluggish growth abroad and trade developments have weighed on the economy and pose ongoing risks.”
  • “We see the current stance of monetary policy as likely to remain appropriate as long as incoming information about the economy remains broadly consistent with our outlook of moderate economic growth, a strong labor market, and inflation near our symmetric 2 percent objective.”

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, issued the following statement after the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm payroll employment grew by 128,000 in October and the unemployment rate was 3.6 percent. Average hourly earnings increased 3.0 percent from the prior year.

“The economy continues to generate jobs at a relatively healthy pace and weather the president's self-inflicted wounds, although I am worried how long that will last. Wednesday’s report on gross domestic product confirmed the economy is slowing as the president’s trade wars and other haphazard policies cause businesses to delay and even cancel investments. Republican tax cuts didn’t come close to providing the sustained economic boost we were promised and only succeeded in making the rich even richer.”

“In fact, the president has squandered the solid economy he inherited by making income inequality worse and weakening regulations that protect workers, consumers and the environment. He has turned his back on poor and middle-class families, and overlooks the fact that black and Hispanic Americans have accumulated less wealth than other groups and that women earn less than men. The president constantly tries to take credit for an unemployment rate that had been falling for years before he took office, while ignoring that the pace of job creation has slowed.”

“There’s so much we can do to shore up the economy and address persistent inequalities. I urge Congress to pass a bill that would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis to report economic growth by income decile and the top 1 percent. This would help us measure inequality and implement programs and policies to ensure that everyone in this country can enjoy the benefits of economic growth.”

Congresswoman Maloney introduced the Measuring Real Income Growth Act (H.R. 707) this Congress and in the 115th Congress. The legislation would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis to publish distributional analyses of gross domestic product. The Congresswoman is Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, Acting Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.

Press contact
Randy Woods
Randy_Woods@jec.senate.gov
(202) 224-2599

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, issued the following statement after the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its initial estimate of third quarter gross domestic product (GDP), showing that GDP grew at annual rate of 1.9 percent in the third quarter of 2019 following a 2.0 percent increase in the previous quarter.

“This is the second straight quarter of lackluster growth and all but confirms that we’re experiencing a pronounced economic deceleration, despite the president’s past pledges of 3-6 percent growth. Clearly the GOP’s wasteful tax cuts for the wealthy are not delivering the sustained boost they promised, while the White House’s haphazard trade policies and general chaos are undermining business confidence. I am deeply concerned the president’s misguided policies and actions will cause the economy to slow even further and hurt the labor market, potentially resulting in job losses and weaker wage gains.”

“In light of the growing risks to our economy, we should focus on rebuilding dilapidated infrastructure, better educating our children and making health care services more affordable.”

“We also need to improve our understanding of who benefits and loses in our economy. We don’t know how growth is distributed across incomes, though clearly those at the top are reaping most of the benefits while too many struggle to make ends meet.”

“That is why I urge BEA to move quickly to prepare distributional analyses of income growth. This information will provide policymakers with a fuller understanding of whom the economy is working for, enabling us to create programs that increase opportunity and reduce inequality.”

Congresswoman Maloney introduced the Measuring Real Income Growth Act (H.R. 707) this Congress and also in the 115th Congress. The bill would require BEA to analyze GDP by each decile of income earners and the top 1 percent. It would also require the agency to produce quarterly and annual reports beginning in 2020. The Congresswoman is Vice Chair of the Joint Economic Committee, Acting Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee and a senior member of the House Financial Services Committee.

Press contact
Randy Woods
Randy_Woods@jec.senate.gov
(202) 224-2599

WASHINGTON—Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, today released a new report, “Guns and Suicide,” that shows easy access to firearms is helping to fuel an epidemic of suicide.

The report, conducted by Democratic staff of the Joint Economic Committee, finds that having access to a gun triples the risk of death by suicide, which is a growing problem that takes the lives of 129 people every day in America. The report also provides the latest estimate on the economic cost of suicide and attempted suicide.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also sent Vice Chair Maloney a letter applauding publication of today’s report. Congresswoman Maloney launched the report in a press conference, where she was joined by the following speakers: Robin Lloyd, Managing Director of Giffords; Kyleanne Hunter, Vice President for Programs at Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; and Dorothy Paugh, who lost family members to gun suicide.

Click here for a copy of the report, “Guns and Suicide.”

The report follows the Congresswoman’s publication last month of a 50-state report detailing the over $200 billion in costs of gun violence.

“I asked my staff to look closely at how guns and suicides are connected, and to examine how suicide by firearm varies by race, gender, age, geography, veteran status and other factors,” the Congresswoman said.

“The link between the availability of firearms and suicide rates provides yet another strong case for gun safety reforms. We lose too many people, their skills, their contributions, their futures full of possibility and promise to suicide.”

“Access to a gun increases the likelihood you will die by suicide. In other words, a gun doesn’t make you safer, it actually can put you in significant danger.”

“This report makes it clear that some groups in the U.S. population are suffering more than others. For example, white men in rural areas are suffering from a gun suicide epidemic.”

“Suicide takes an enormous toll on families, friends, communities, co-workers and others. This is a public health issue and, sadly, it’s an economic issue as well. Lifetime medical and work-loss costs due to suicides and suicide attempts are estimated at almost $70 billion per year, or about $1.5 million per death on average.”

“If we could reduce firearm suicides, we would make substantial progress in addressing the gun violence epidemic in America. Now the challenge and the responsibility before Americans is to do something about it.”

“Unlike many problems that we don't have an answer for, such as what's the cure for cancer, we know what to do to reduce the availability of guns. Other countries have done it. But the President and Republicans in Congress refuse to act. I’ve said it before and will say it again: The inaction of the president and Senate Majority Leader McConnell is literally killing Americans. Today’s report makes that even clearer.”

Press contact
Randy Woods
Randy_Woods@jec.senate.gov
(202) 224-2599

WASHINGTON— Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, is pleased to announce that the Department of Commerce and Congress are both taking new steps for the federal government to measure inequality.

Her announcement comes as she presides over an October 16 hearing of the Joint Economic Committee on measuring income inequality in the United States. Witnesses include Dr. Gabriel Zucman, Associate Professor of Economics at University of California, Berkeley, and Dr. Heather Boushey, President & CEO and Co-Founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

Congresswoman Maloney cited a letter where Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) would develop methods to publish regular measures of personal income distribution. Click here for a copy of the letter.

According to Secretary Ross’s letter, BEA will publish prototype measures in 2020 and will seek public comment on its methods. He cited the challenge of BEA likely needing new access to timely tax data to produce distributional measurements. Secretary Ross said the prototype would comply with language in the Consolidated Appropriation Act of 2019, which encouraged BEA to begin reporting income growth by each decile in 2020.

Vice Chair Maloney is advocating for Congress to approve her legislation, the Measuring Real Income Growth Act of 2019 (H.R.707), which would have the BEA do more than publish a prototype and actually develop distributional analyses of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on a quarterly basis. She cited other signs of progress toward having the government measure inequality:

  • Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) plans to reintroduce similar legislation in the Senate.
  • Numerous organizations this week voiced their support for the Measuring Real Income Growth Act.

“We’re making real progress in getting the federal government to start providing regular measurements of income inequality,” Congresswoman Maloney said. “Secretary Ross’s letter was the first firm commitment we’ve seen from this Administration to start publishing this kind of data. And I’m thrilled that Senator Heinrich is reintroducing legislation in the Senate, and that so many organizations are coming out in support of the Measuring Real Income Growth Act of 2019.”

“This is pretty simple: better data on income inequality allows the American people to better see who is benefitting and who is not from our economic policies," the Congresswoman said. "This information can and should be used to drive meaningful change at every governmental level to reverse the disparities that have already reached record levels."

Dr. Boushey noted the importance of measuring economic inequality, which according to her research obstructs, subverts and distorts the economy. Dr. Boushey has a new book called Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do about It.

“The dramatic rise in inequality our nation has experienced over the past 40 years is obstructing, subverting, and distorting the way our economy functions,” Dr. Boushey said. “One of the most important tools policymakers need to fight inequality is the ability to track it. This is so when the economy grows, we can see whether the benefits are widely distributed or, as we have seen increasingly in recent decades, those gains go disproportionately to those at the very top.”

“Until we change the way we conceptualize, and therefore measure, economic prosperity, we are unlikely to have very much of it. In short, better, fairer growth measures beget better, fairer growth,” Dr. Boushey said.

“We applaud Rep. Maloney and her colleagues for introducing legislation directing the Department of Commerce to regularly track and report on inequality, and for Congress’ ongoing efforts to better measure who prospers when the economy grows.”

Below are statements of support for the Measuring Real Income Growth Act:

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice:

“NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice advocates for federal policies to mend the income and wealth gap in our nation because such policies promote the common good. Current GDP measurement only accounts for the benefit realized by corporations and their stockholders. The common good requires that these measures account for the broader economy by including the impact on working people.”

“New indicators would be an important step forward in assessing how people are benefiting—or not—from economic growth,” she said. “My faith teaches that our major concern should be for those who are left out of our economic flourishing. With this supplemental data we will be able to faithfully respond to the needs of our people. This legislation is an effective measure in support of the common good.”

Barry Lynn, Executive Director, Open Markets Institute:

"There are a huge number of problems with the American economy. But you can't fix the problems if you don't see them clearly. And unfortunately, the way the government measures growth makes it hard if not impossible to understand the reasons why America's working families are falling ever further behind. The Open Markets Institute strongly supports efforts to produce distributional GDP statistics, so we can see who really benefits from America's growth, and who doesn't. And hence, to begin to address the real sources of the problem."

Debra Ness, President, National Partnership for Women and Families:

“The vast and growing inequality in our economy has devastated families and communities. Women and people of color in particular have experienced stagnating – and in some cases worsening – income and wealth gaps. These gaps continue even as GDP has grown, a clear sign that we need to update how we think about and assess the health of our economy. “

“A real measure of economic well-being would tell us more than the total number of goods, services and income the economy produces. We also need to know how it’s distributed among people.”

Mary Kay Henry, International President, SEIU:

“Income inequality is the highest it has been in five decades, with working people of all races bearing the brunt. The Measuring Real Income Growth Act helps government, policy-makers, and working families understand how rigged our economy has become. Policies to address income inequality must be grounded in an understanding of who our economy is leaving behind. We need to measure not just how much our economy is growing, but who it is growing for. This bill is a good first step in developing economic indicators that measure how well working families are doing.” 

Sabeel Rahman, President, Demos:

“You get what you measure. One of the big reasons our economic policy debates consistently fail to center questions of distribution and inequality is that we have a far too one-dimensional approach to measuring economic progress. Conventional measures of GDP growth tell us nothing about inequality and the increasingly skewed distribution of the gains from growth. Without more explicit metrics and data around distribution, it is very difficult to develop policies, narratives, and political support for measures that combat inequality. The development of distributional GDP statistics is a crucial step towards an economic policy agenda and a public conversation about the economy that takes inequality seriously.”

Janelle Jones, Managing Director for Policy and Research, Groundwork Collaborative:

“Every quarter, when the government releases GDP data, economists, reporters and policymakers focus on one question: ‘Is the economy growing fast enough?’ The real question should be, ‘who is the economy growing for?’ For decades, we have publicly defined a strong economy only by how much we are producing -- GDP -- and not at all by who is benefitting. True prosperity means not only that there is enough to go around in theory, but that people’s lives are getting better in reality.  The Measuring Real Income Growth Act is a long-overdue step to align real-time government data with what policymakers need to know about GDP growth, and whether the economy is working for most Americans.”

Melissa Boteach, Vice President for Income Security and Child Care/Early Learning, National Women’s Law Center:

“For too long, lawmakers have focused on economic growth without stopping to consider who is benefiting from it. But we’ve seen periods in our nation’s history where GDP is rising yet poverty is also rising, where the stock market is soaring, but workers are struggling paycheck to paycheck. Let’s be clear: If the economy isn’t working for working-class families -which are disproportionately headed by women and people of color – it is not working. Distributional GDP is an important tool to evaluate our progress and hold lawmakers accountable to creating a strong economy - one where the gains of growth are equitably shared.”

Jacob Liebenluft, Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress:

“Getting economic policy right requires understanding what is actually happening in the economy. If we are to make policy that can build a more equitable and prosperous society, we need data that tells us not only whether the economy is growing, but who is benefitting from that growth.”

Felicia Wong, President & CEO, Roosevelt Institute:

“It is beyond time for policymakers to think about who truly benefits from economic prosperity. The Measuring Real Income Growth Act will contribute enormously to our elected officials' understanding of how American families, especially people of color and women, are faring in an age of inequality. I'm confident that these metrics will help lawmakers to craft policy that ensures that everyone shares in the prosperity our economy can generate."

Thea Lee, President, Economic Policy Institute:

"Gross Domestic Product measures how much income the market economy generates each year, but it tells us almost nothing about who receives that income. Requiring government statistical agencies to work to produce regular, official estimates of how GDP is distributed across the entire population would represent an enormous step forward in diagnosing and combating high and rising economic inequality."

JEC Press Contact
Randy Woods
Randy_Woods@jec.senate.gov
(202) 224-2599

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12), Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, said economic inequality is “one of the most pressing issues of our day” that is “tearing our society apart.”

She was speaking at a Committee hearing she organized on measuring economic inequality in the United States. The hearing focused on the alarming rise in income inequality and the need for better government data to measure and track progress on this issue.

Click here to access the Vice Chair’s prepared statement and witness testimony. Here are key excerpts from the hearing:

“Inequality is one of the most pressing issues of our day. It is tearing our society apart and undermining much of what we stand for,” Congresswoman Maloney said in her opening statement.

“In order to understand inequality, we must have better ways to measure it – ways that are accepted by those on both sides of the aisle,” the Congresswoman said. “With that information in hand, we can begin to restore our country to the land of opportunity.”

“Skyrocketing inequality undermines our middle-class society, in which anyone who works hard has a chance to succeed,” the Vice Chair said. “It means that for millions of Americans, the American dream may be a myth.”

Here are excerpts from Democratic witnesses at the hearing:

“By working together, we can arrive at the best possible estimates and reach the stage where the publication of inequality statistics will be just like the publication of GDP,” UC Berkeley Associate Professor of Economics Gabriel Zucman said in opening remarks. “When GDP grows 3% in a given year, we want to be able to know how income is growing for each social group, in a way that’s consistent with the official rate of GDP growth.”

“In 1980, the top 1% earned 10% of total pre-tax national income. Today it earns close to 20% of total pre-tax national income, according to these data,” Dr. Zucman said. “In 1980, the average pre-tax income of adults in the bottom 50% of the income distribution was $18,000, adjusted for inflation. Today, it is almost the same number—$18,500.”

“By any measure, income inequality in the United States has increased significantly over the past 40 years. This increase in inequality has constricted the growth of our economy and had an insidious effect on our political institutions,” Heather Boushey, President & CEO and co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, said in her opening statement.

“One of the most important things we can do to fight inequality in the United States right now is to start keeping track of it,” she said. “Government statistics—Gross Domestic Product growth, inflation, jobs added, wage increases—drive economic policymaking in Congress, the Federal Reserve, and executive agencies. Better measurements of inequality are overdue additions to this list.”

Press contact
Randy Woods
Randy_Woods@jec.senate.gov
(202) 224-2599