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“Let Our Wages Grow” -- Why Progressives Must Care About the Federal Reserve in the Trump Era

  • CVC-268, Capitol Visitor Center (map)

Monday, September 24, 2018, 2pm

Capitol Visitor Center

Congressional Meeting Room North (CVC 268)

Hosted by Rep. Ro Khanna

Featuring

  • Jared Bernstein, Fmr. Chief Economist to Vice President Joe Biden, Senior Fellow at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

  • Shawn Sebastian, Director of Fed Up: The National Campaign for a Strong Economy

  • Testimony from low-wage workers discussing the state of the economy for working people today

While Donald Trump cuts taxes for the rich and deregulates Wall Street, workers continue to see stagnant wages, which have lagged far behind economic and productivity growth for decades. As a result, inequality has continued to worsen, even as the unemployment rate declines.

But the Federal Reserve could reverse this trend without any action from the White House. 40 years ago, Dr. King’s widow Coretta Scott King led a successful movement to require the Federal Reserve to seek “maximum employment”. When the Federal Reserve focuses on this jobs mandate in their monetary policy decisions, workers’ wages rise and minority unemployment rates drop. For much of the last 40 years, however, the Federal Reserve has largely catered to Wall Street fears over inflation – a trade-off that directly leads to unnecessary joblessness and slower wage growth. Over 100 Members of Congress have argued that the Fed’s failure to prioritize needs of working class families may be partially due to the Fed’s overwhelmingly white, male, and Wall-Street-connected leadership.

Today, the headline unemployment figure is finally down below 4%-- a fact that Donald Trump brags about constantly. But workers still haven’t seen meaningful wage growth. Nonetheless, the Federal Reserve is once again shifting its attention towards combating potential inflation, despite poor pay and benefits for workers, and a black unemployment rate that is nearly 3% higher than the rate for white workers. To combat inflation, the Fed has begun steadily raising interest rates -- further stifling job and wage growth on purpose, even though millions of workers in Trump’s economy are still in need of family-sustaining jobs.

In this briefing, you’ll hear about an exciting new bill that strengthens the Federal Reserve’s full employment mandate to ensure that workers get a raise and removes bankers from Reserve Banks’ boards, even as Republican House members are working to strengthen their power. The panel will review the basics about the Federal Reserve and its power over jobs and wages, take testimony from working class Americans who are excluded from high-level Federal Reserve discussions, and discuss ways that Congress can advocate for a Federal Reserve that prioritizes jobs and wage growth for all.

For more information, please contact Erik Sperling at Rep. Ro Khanna's office at erik.sperling@mail.house.gov or 202-225-2631.