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At Yellen Hearing, Waters Warns of Economic Harm from Trump Policies, Commends Fed Chair

Today, at the semiannual Humphrey-Hawkins hearing on monetary policy and the state of the economy with Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, gave the following opening statement:

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you Chair Yellen. It is a pleasure to have you with us today.

Since day one, the story of the Trump Administration has been one of chaos and turmoil. This creates uncertainty that threatens the progress of our economy and the opportunities available to all American households.

Trump made many big promises to hardworking Americans about ushering in a new level of economic prosperity in America. Yet, despite all of his bluster, let’s look at what Trump has actually done when it comes to our economy – none of it is good.

He reversed a planned cut to Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance premiums that would have saved homeowners $500 a year. He issued Executive Actions to begin to dismantle Wall Street Reform, and embraced the “Wrong Choice Act,” the Chairman’s bill to gut the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and hobble the Fed. These are actions that endanger the economic progress we have made since the Great Recession.

In passing the Wrong Choice Act, House Republicans once again are trying to weaken the independence of the Fed and chain the Fed’s policy decisions to a mathematical formula that would diminish its ability to support the economy, and fulfill its mandate to promote full employment. The Republicans’ bill would also subject federal financial regulators, including the Fed, to the politicized annual appropriations process.

If all of this wasn’t bad enough, President Trump will soon have the opportunity to reshape the makeup of the Board of Governors, thereby tilting policy in the direction of Wall Street.

For example, earlier this week the White House announced the President’s intent to nominate Randal Quarles to serve as the Fed’s Vice Chair for Supervision, an important post responsible for overseeing the Fed’s implementation of Wall Street Reform. This is troubling given Quarles’ public opposition to key aspects of the Dodd-Frank law and support for measures that would curtail the Fed’s independence.

While our economy has made substantial progress since the height of the financial crisis, and we continue to see positive trends in the labor market as a result of the policies put in place by the Fed, Congressional Democrats, and President Obama, key aspects of our economy have yet to fully recover. Since your last testimony before this Committee, wage growth continues to lag, and troubling economic disparities continue to exist along racial and ethnic lines. I hope Fed policymakers will keep these trends in mind, and the fact that inflation expectations have fallen, as they evaluate the stance of monetary policy.

Chair Yellen, I commend you for your steady leadership, and look forward to your testimony.


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