Each week, in order to help promote transparency within the government, we will bring you an abridged congressional hearing, lovingly called a SenateShort. While we do our best to keep in the most crucial material, we do not excise anything because we deem it unimportant. We are simply trying to give the public a more manageable and digestible glimpse into a tremendously important part of our governing process. After reading, and if you have the time, we suggest that you take a look at the complete transcript.
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We need to have smarter contracts and smarter policy
For more information on Professor Mian’s research please click here.
Growing economic inequality is intertwined with growing political inequality
For more information on Amy Traub’s research please click here.
If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs
To read more about Hanauer’s causes please visit him online.
We are looking at broadening from a consumption-based market to an investment and export market
To learn more about Hill, please read his extended bio here.
S. Hrg. 113-55
State of the American Dream: Economic Policy and the Future of the Middle Class
Hearing before the Subcommittee on Economic Policy of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
First Session on Examining The State Of The Middle Class And The “American Dream” Today From Personal And Policy Perspectives
June 6th, 2013
For the full transcript please click here.
“The American Dream is a powerful concept that has driven generations of Americans to strive for a better life. Every American might define the American Dream a little differently, but for most, it is a concept broadly based around prosperity and economic opportunity, regardless of where one started in life. Unfortunately, over the last decade at least, the American Dream has slipped slowly out of reach for many families. Today’s hearing aims to shed light on both the challenges of the Great Recession and those that have been developing over a longer period of time. We are also fortunate to have joining us a panel of experts in economics and business. I hope we can have a robust conversation about the causes of our shrinking middle class and what we can do at the national level to restore the pathways to the middle class.” —Chairman Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore)
I want to focus my attention on the rules of the game in our financial system and how those rules impact the middle class and the broader economy.
In particular, I will just give the example of mortgage contracts, the way they have been written in the past and how they impacted the middle class and the economy. When the decline in house prices happened starting in 2007-08, people had most of their wealth in their homes. They lost all of that wealth, but that was not all. Many of them continued to use their retirement income to pay off the debt on a house that did not belong to them anymore because they were underwater.
That is the first impact of the financial crisis, and it is a direct consequence of the way we wrote down those mortgage contracts. The net impact of that on the American middle class has been devastating, and the enormous impact it has had in increasing wealth inequality in the U.S. is really remarkable.
The other important thing is that it is not just a question of middle class. Because we live in an interdependent ecosystem, what happens to middle class has a wider impact on the rest of the economy through two key channels in the mortgage context. One is the foreclosures that are imposed as a result of homeowners being underwater devastate home ownership across the country due to the fall in house prices that results from foreclosures. The other negative impact is the aggregate demand effect. When people lose wealth on their homes as they become underwater, they cut back on their spending drastically, and it is the middle America that has the highest propensity to consume, to spend.
The bottom line is that it is a result of the contracts that we decided to write down, the mortgage contract, that leads to this destruction of wealth of middle class as well as the decline in aggregate demand and the overall economy.
So what can we do to rectify this situation, to prevent it from happening again? We need to have smarter contracts and smarter policy. I have laid out the details (page 55 of this document) of what I refer to as “the shared responsibility mortgages.” These mortgages are very similar to your standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, with two important differences: the first one is that these mortgages offer downside protection for the homeowner based on her local house price index that is easily available these days. Under this protection, the standard 30-year fixed-rate mortgage payment, for example, will decline by X percent if the local house price index declines by X percent relative to when the mortgage was originally issued. It is very easy to implement, and think about what would have happened: there would be no such thing as an underwater homeowner, no foreclosures, and we would have prevented the negative externalities that I talked about.
Now, one cost of doing this is that the lender is going to charge more up front for the protection that they are going to offer. So for that, I am going to offer a second suggestion, which is that we add to the mortgage contract a 5-percent net capital gain that will go to the lender whenever the homeowner chooses to sell their house or refinance their mortgage. Given the average appreciation in house prices and the average volatility in house price growth in the U.S., if you do the math, one can show that the 5-percent net capital gain sharing with the lender completely neutralizes the cost of the downside protection that the lender offers. And so we come back to the same cost for mortgages as we have under the current system, but, importantly, this suggestion gives us the opportunity to share risks equally across the population. It protects the middle class and it protects our overall economy and our overall labor market.
If we had this system in 2007—and I have worked through the numbers—one can show that we would have largely avoided the Great Recession itself. In fact, if you think about the details, the proposal is entirely market based. There is no subsidy from the taxpayers involved ever. In fact, the shared responsibility mortgages help reduce budget deficits in the long run because they limit the need for countercyclical fiscal policy in the first place.
These mortgages give the lender a direct interest in worrying about potential bubbles, so that automatically imposes a safety valve in the system so the lenders will lean against the wind, so to speak, if they think they are in a bubble, because they are offering the downside protection so they will raise the interest rate or the cost of a mortgage if they think the housing market is in a bubble. So not only do these mortgages reduce the negative effects of the housing bubble, but they also reduce the likelihood of those bubbles from happening in the first place.
Over the past 40 years, a rising share of the Nation’s gross domestic product is flowing to corporate profits rather than wages, and a larger share of overall income is going to the highest paid 1 percent of earners.
A number of scholars have investigated why economic gains are now so concentrated: changes to the Tax Code that benefit the wealthy, the declining power of the minimum wage and other workplace protections, trade policy, and the weakening of organized labor and the laws that protect the right to organize are among the causes. All of these trends were shaped by public policy and can be changed by public policy.
In Demos’ recent study, “Stacked Deck”, we have collected evidence of a distortion in policy outcomes that political scientist Martin Gilens describes this way: the preferences of the vast majority of Americans appear to have essentially no impact on which policy the Government does or does not adopt. This is because the affluent are overrepresented among voters, Beltway influencers, and campaign donors. This unequal political influence is particularly consequential because of significant differences in policy preferences by income level. The general public is far more open than the wealthy to a variety of policies that would help restore the middle class, including raising the minimum wage, providing more generous unemployment benefits, and using the power of the Government to directly create jobs.
Growing economic inequality is intertwined with growing political inequality, and to strengthen and expand the middle class and reclaim the American Dream, it is really imperative that we address both.
For 30 years, Americans on the right and left have accepted a particular explanation for the origins of prosperity in capitalist economies, and that is that rich business people like myself are “job creators,” and if the taxes on us or on our companies go up, fewer jobs will be created; conversely, that the lower our taxes are, the more jobs we will create and the more general prosperity we will have.
Most Americans and many people in this room are certain that these claims are true. But sometimes the ideas we know to be true are dead wrong. For thousands of years, people were certain that Earth was at the center of the universe. My argument today is this: In the same way that it is a fact that the Sun, not the Earth, is the center of the solar system, it is also a fact that the middle class, not rich business people like me, are the center of America’s economy. I will argue here that prosperity in capitalist economies never trickles down from the top. Prosperity is built from the middle out.
As an entrepreneur and investor, I have started or helped start dozens of businesses across a range of industries, and I have hired lots of people initially. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, all my businesses and every one of those jobs would have evaporated.
That is why I am so sure that rich business people like me do not create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between businesses and customers. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. That is why the real job creators in America are middle-class consumers. The more money they have and the more they can buy, the more people like me have to hire to meet demand.
Anyone who has ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a capitalist’s course of last resort. It is what we do if and only if rising customer demand requires it; further, that the goal of every business—profit—is largely a measure of our relative ability to not create jobs relative to our competitors. In this sense, calling ourselves “job creators” is not just inaccurate; it is disingenuous.
That is why our current policies are so upside down. When you have a tax system in which most of the exemptions and the lowest rates benefit the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer. Since 1980 the share of income for the richest 1 percent of Americans has tripled while our effective tax rates have fallen by approximately 50 percent.
If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs. If it were true that more profit for corporations or lower tax rates for corporations led to more job creation, then it could not also be true that both corporate profits and unemployment and underemployment are at 50-year highs.
There can never be enough super-rich Americans like me to power a great economy. I earn literally a thousand times the median wage, but I do not buy a thousand times as much stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. Like most American men, I buy a few pairs of pants and shirts a year. My family goes out to eat occasionally, like most American families.
I cannot buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed or underemployed Americans cannot buy any new clothes or cars or enjoy any meals out, or to make up for the decreasing consumption of the vast majority of American families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnating or declining wages. This is why the fast increasing inequality in our society is killing our economy. When most of the money in the economy ends up in just a few hands, it strangles consumption and creates a death spiral of falling demand.
If we care about building a fast-growing economy that provides opportunity for every American, then me must enact policies that build it from the middle out, not the top down.
Let us not forget the fundamental law of capitalism: When workers have no money, businesses have no customers. Tax the wealthy and corporations—as we once did in this country—and invest that money in the middle class—as we once did in this country. Raise the minimum wage to $15. Those polices will not be just great for the middle class, they will be great for the poor, for businesses large and small, and the rich.
Steven D. Hill
Nevada has been at the epicenter of one of the biggest booms since my 25 years in Las Vegas. The first 20 years were some of the biggest growth the U.S. has ever seen. And the last 4 or 5 years have really been the epicenter of the housing crisis, the industry that I was in before taking this job about 18 months ago. Approximately 100,000 construction workers lost their jobs, so they were hit with a one-two punch of a housing crisis, the value of their homes dropping while they were losing their jobs. And they are faced with a situation where they are going to probably need to find employment in a different field.
So Nevada looked at this and decided that we needed a different approach. We have focused on some targeted opportunities in sectors—in energy, in aerospace, in logistics, just to name a couple; recently passed legislation to eliminate coal and to focus on renewable energy, which Nevada has in vast quantities. We have focused on the FAA’s effort to test unmanned aerial vehicles and integrate those vehicles into the national air space. It is an opportunity that Nevada presents great assets for and an opportunity for us to get into robotics, which we think would provide great jobs moving forward.
We are looking at broadening from a consumption-based market to an investment and export market. We think that is important for Nevada; we think that is important for the country. So that involves advanced manufacturing, research, and a commitment to research. We just funded during our last legislative session what we call the “Knowledge Fund,” which ties our economic development effort to the university system to commercialize research and innovation. We have started to reach out more robustly to countries where we have population based in Nevada that already has connections, so we have a strong Hispanic, a strong Asian population in Nevada, so we are reaching out to Latin America and Asia.
I will just end by saying that workforce development is a big part of our economic development effort and a big part of mobility in the middle class, so we will continue to focus on that as well.
Senator Dean Heller (R-NV)
Mr. Hanauer, your testimony does confuse me a little bit. And I do not mean that with any disrespect. But if I am not mistaken, you believe that by raising taxes we can create jobs. Mr. Hill, do you agree with that?
Steven D. Hill
I do not, and certainly not in and of itself. And part of the reason that I say that is we are in a competitive situation. Whether that is Nevada, whether that is the United States, not everyone will take that same approach. The businesses that we talk to are bottom-line driven and we do have to be competitive in order to attract them, or they will locate elsewhere. And so Nevada is looking in every way possible to try and be a competitive place so that the citizens there will have those opportunities. That is not just tax based, and it is certainly not just regulatory based. We need to provide a workforce that allows the business case for that business to want to do business in Nevada. The location, the logistic opportunities, the infrastructure that we have, there are many aspects of that. And every business will look at that differently.
Demand is certainly a part of that business case, so we have to look at the demand side as well as the cost side. But in and of itself, I would not.
I did not say that raising taxes created jobs. But what I did mean to point out is that if wealthy people like me and corporations that were profitable paid taxes at rates as we once did, then the middle-class families could afford to send their children to colleges without taking on an aggregate of $1 trillion worth of debt. And not only would middle-class families benefit massively from that, but eventually I would benefit massively from that because then they would not have to pay debts. They could buy products from my companies and create a virtuous cycle of increasing returns that capitalism is capable of doing. That is the point. The point is not should taxes go up but who should bear the burden in a way that animates a virtuous cycle in the economy.
Senator Dean Heller (R-NV)
I do not want to go in circles on this, but I do appreciate your insight. And I think there is some truth to what you are saying. We probably philosophically come from different places, and I do believe that the key to success is to make sure that this economic engine is working. And I believe history has proven, back in the 1960s under President Kennedy, when he lowered taxes, that the economy took off and we had more revenues in this Federal Government. The same was true in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan. When he cut taxes, we increased revenue, and the purpose of that, of course, and that funding and the upside to it, of course, is that we were able to pay for higher education and have more funding available to some of these issues. So I guess we can agree to disagree, but I think history probably is more compelling when it talks about making sure people have more money in their pockets. And we have a progressive tax system here in this country, and it ought to remain progressive. I agree with that. And I do believe bits and pieces of what you are saying with the engine being the middle class, I would not disagree with that at all.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)
What happens to America’s middle class when each succeeding group of young people is carrying more and more debt as they start their adult lives? Can we just talk about that for a minute?
It is, as you say, a hollowing out of the middle class, and this level, the sheer level of indebtedness is a big part of that. In addition, Credit reports and credit standing is eroded, and one issue that I have had an opportunity to look at is the use of credit reports for employment. And so an employer looks at a credit report and may decide this person has too much debt. They are not looking at the score. They just see a large burden of student loan debt and may decide not to hire that person. And then you have gone to school to improve your chances of being hired and find that that actually undermines your application for a job. It is very troubling.
I will just add one thing. Historically, if you track debt to GDP, private debt to GDP, you see two peaks: one in 1929 and the other one in 2007. And we know what happened to the overall economy post-1929 and post-2007. What I am basically emphasizing is that when you see a rapid increase in private debt, that increase is not sustainable economically because it is basically reflecting reduced market power or reduced purchasing power of a core group of the population, and at some point they are going to collapse. And when that happens, it is going to affect everyone. We need to set up these markets in a way so when they overstretch themselves, they do not lead everyone to collapse along with them. So we need to put in these safety valves.
Student loans [are] a ticking time bomb because people cannot get out of student debt. So I worry about the situation that, if this thing collapses, and people are unable to find enough jobs which are paying enough to pay back their student loans, what is going to happen to the social fabric of this society as the lenders and the courts go after them, as they would be required to? So it is a very serious problem that we need to look into.
Chairman Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore)
Are we in danger now of a national cycle of depressed aspirations replacing the motivating vision of the American Dream? And if there is one thing you could say that we need to do to change where we are at, what would it be?
It is a fantastic question, and I think it is important to acknowledge that there is a parallel crisis, which is that we have structured our economy in a way that the only way in this country today that you can avoid a life of poverty is to go to college. It is insane to have an economy where the only possible way out of poverty is to take on $100,000 worth of debt to go to college.
I think that we have to not just pretend that if we put a few more people through college that we are going to fix this problem. We have to deal directly with the crisis of low-wage work. And the fact that most of the jobs our economy is creating today are jobs that have poverty wages. So if I was God and could do anything I wanted, I would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over 3 years, starting tomorrow. And if you raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, you would inject close to $500 billion into the economy from people definitionally who could afford it to people who definitionally desperately need it. All that money goes to the very businesses that have given those increases in wages. And now there is $500 billion that you do not have to tax to send food stamps to people who work for Walmart.
Again, you give people a living wage, you ask the market to bear the burdens. You do not have to ask taxpayers to make up the difference. And you start this cycle of increasing returns. You generate demand, more workers, more wages.
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)
We need to remind ourselves, with a Federal minimum wage right now of $7.25, we have a bill pending to raise it to $10.10. I am a cosponsor on that bill.
Chairman Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore)
Senator, didn’t you propose $20 at one point?
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)
What I did is pointed out that if the minimum wage had been linked to productivity starting back in the late 1960s, it would now be $22 an hour.
Now, I did not advocate and I am not advocating a $22-an-hour minimum wage, but the question is: Why didn’t it rise? Why didn’t it go up? If productivity went up, why didn’t workers’ earnings go up at the same time? Why didn’t they get a piece of the pie that did not have to be a bigger slice but it would grow if the pie was growing?
The constant refrain is, no, we cannot raise the minimum wage because it will cost jobs, there will be fewer people employed. Now, there have been academic studies, very serious, very rigorous academic studies. For example, those that study what happens in a metropolitan area that is split and half of it is in one State, half is in another, and the minimum wage shifts in one State, goes up in one State. And basically they find there is no job loss or sometimes a very small job loss. So the major argument for not raising the minimum wage, that is, it will cost jobs, at least the academic studies seem to show is not right.
Mr. Hanauer, you have got a vision about how this works. If we raise the minimum wage, explain why it is that we will have more people employed or at least the same number of people employed.
the first thing to recognize, I think, is that most traditional economics and our perspectives about economics are rooted in a foundational misunderstanding about how these systems work, that they are linear and mechanistic, and if one thing goes up, another thing must go down.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Capitalists need unions in the same way that animals need plants. If workers have no money, capitalists will have no customers. And I am a big supporter of unions. But raising the minimum wage is a far more economically efficient way to generate growth, because everybody is on the same footing. Every company competes equally with other companies. And the problem with unionization is if one industry is unionized and another one is not, that creates a very difficult existential threat to one of those companies.
The other idea is that if you raise these wages you will outsource these jobs, but the simple truth is that virtually every low-wage job in America is a service job that can neither be outsourced nor automated. So when you take these things together, by raising the minimum wage, yes, prices will go up a little bit. But people who get a 40-percent increase in their wages will easily be able to absorb a 5-percent increase in prices. And people who did not get a raise but could afford it anyway, right? And the thing that is so obvious but is missing from these academic reports is the virtuous cycle. When minimum wages go up, workers have more money. And when workers have more money, they buy things from the very companies that raised those wages, generating more demand and more jobs. And that is why it works. And that is why it is such a crucial part of policy.
I just want to point out that, in addition to minimum wage workers then making more money, it pushes up other wages across the board. There is a spillover effect, and so employers raise wages for other workers. If we feel that $15 an hour is still a low wage, it is hard to get by even on that, even though that is more than twice as much as the Federal minimum wage is now, many workers would make more than that. Workers who are currently making $15 an hour would have a lot more bargaining power themselves in the workplace. And so it is not just something that lifts up minimum wage workers. It has a ripple effect throughout our economy, throughout the low- and middle-wage workforce.
Chairman Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore)
Mr. Hanauer, I wanted to ask you about the virtuous cycle that you were talking about and how consumers, the middle class drives this production cycle. One rebuttal that I have heard so many times would go like this: If I as a company manager or owner can cut costs and have profits at the end of the year, and maybe those costs are labor and maybe they are tax costs, if I can cut those costs, I now have this money, and I go, You know what? I can increase the size of my sales force; I can hire three more people to do research on the next generation of the product; I can do more advertising, which will increase demand; and then I will be able to have more people building the thing. And voila, I will have more jobs and society will have more jobs.
I think that is the most common presentation of the opposite version of cut expenses in any way you can and you will produce more jobs.
Would you like to kind of examine that and see where you see the shortfalls and strengths are in that vision?
Sure. So the only thing that compels a capitalist like me to add labor is the absence of alternatives to doing it to meet future customer demand or present customer demand. And all capitalists are profit seeking. We seek to maximize profit. I am a huge believer in capitalism. Sometimes I talk and people think I am not, but I am a huge–capitalism is the greatest social technology ever invented for creating prosperity and ennobling the human spirit. But it comes in a lot of flavors, some lousy and some good. And the thing is that if it was true that more profit led to more employment, then it could not also be true that American corporations are more profitable than they have ever been in history and unemployment and underemployment is also higher essentially than at any time in history. And that is because these two things are not linked. They are not linked. There is a rate limit to how many people you can employ to do research in the future. There is a rate limit to how many people you can employ to think about things. Capitalists make investments in people when demand makes that make sense.
You know, there is this idea that capitalists–you know, the verb is “give” people jobs, right? You hear this all the time, and you are left with a sense that somebody like me gives somebody a job like I might give you wife a bouquet of flowers at Valentine’s Day. Nothing could be further from the truth. You know, you do not give somebody a job. You reluctantly agree to maybe employ them because you cannot do the work yourself.
And so it just is categorically untrue that we need to make capitalists sort of limitlessly profitable so that they will generously give other people in the society jobs. It just does not work that way. And there is, you know, indisputable evidence that it does not work. We are in that circumstance right now. Corporations are sitting on $2 trillion worth of cash–$2 trillion worth of cash. Corporate profits are at a 50-year high, and labor is falling like that. This is just not how it works.
Chairman Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore)
Do we have a challenge with the pace of technological change in having other parts of the economy change fast enough to create replacement living-wage jobs? And if we do have that problem, what can we do about it? Because without–a living-wage job is better than any program. Each of you has gone through the process, and you had living-wage jobs, you did not need benefits, you did not think you would ever need benefits. And now you need benefits.
But it sounded like from your comments you would much prefer that living-wage job, that that is a foundation. I think that that is felt deeply across our society. That is the foundation for a family. You can buy that three-bedroom house. You can proceed to maybe take a family vacation each year. You can pay the sports fees for your kids to participate in activities at schools. And you are not asking for the world. You are asking for what we viewed as the basics of the middle class. And now so many of our new jobs do not provide that. How concerned should we be? Are these problems or are they not problems?
I think you have asked the most important question regarding the labor market from a long-term perspective.
If you look at the most recent recession or even go back to the previous one, there are two kinds of jobs that have been very well protected. What I mean by that is even if people in those sectors lose their jobs, they gain them back. Those are the two kinds of people—they are either baby sitters or they are scientists.
Now, what is common between these jobs? What is common is that you cannot outsource them. One requires some thinking: do this, experiment with this or that. The other requires dealing with a child—a robot cannot do that. Those two kinds of jobs come back.
When you look at the jobs which are lost and do not come back, those are the kind of jobs that people sometimes refer to as routine jobs that involve routine tasks. And it is not necessarily about skilled or nonskilled, as you yourself pointed out, in terms of accounting and so on. Those are highly skilled professions. But more and more we are seeing the case that they can be turned into routine tasks that can be automated out of the labor market, and that is exactly what is happening. Those jobs are not coming back.
So this is the most serious question from a long-run perspective, number one. Just statistically it is very much there in the data.
In terms of what one can do about it, I think that is really at some level a philosophical question. I mean, take it to the extreme. Suppose machines can raise all the crops, they can manufacture all the iPhones, clean the roads, do everything that we want. What do we need humans for now? We will still have everything that we need for consumption and living, but whoever owns those machines will be the super-rich citizen and control everything in society.
So at some level we are gradually moving toward that technologically. That is one view of the world. I do not want to go too far. But I think that raises some serious issues from a governance perspective, in terms of how we think of taxes and how we think of redistribution and how we think of a living wage and a minimum wage.
One thing is for sure. We cannot fight with technology. We cannot continue to use the rotary phone while the rest of the world is using iPhones. So you have to adapt to technology.
So I am in a technology business mostly and have participated in a lot of that disruption, and here is a fantastic way of proving that capitalists like me do not create jobs. I was the first investor in Amazon.com, and I consider Amazon.com to be one of the great economic achievements of our time. It is something I am very proud of. But make no mistake. Amazon.com does about $80 billion in sales, and it employs 60,000 people today, and it has been an extraordinary windfall for me, for Bezos, and for some people who live in the Pacific Northwest. But if ordinary bricks-and-mortar retailers still did that $80 billion in sales and Amazon.com did not do it, then it would not be 60,000 people working. It would be a million, because the difference between Amazon.com and bricks-and-mortar retailers is massive economic efficiency.
The question is not, what are we going to do about technology? The question is, who is going to bear the burden of that transition in a society, and who is going to get the benefit? And does it make any sense to have a society with laws and policies that allow a tiny minority of people to get all the benefit of these transitions and to push the costs off on other people in our society? And I think the answer ultimately will be no, not just because it will rip the society apart and destroy the democracy, but because ultimately it is horrible for business, because while it is awesome in the near term that Amazon is doing all this stuff and employing these people and Jeff has made all this dough, those 600,000 or 800,000 or million people who are no longer employed are not buying anything, right?
Ultimately what goes around comes around, and we have to find ways to animate this virtuous cycle and not create death spirals. I mean, to me that is the central role of Government.
Chairman Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Ore)
Well, on that note, I think we are going to wrap up. We have heard kind of the virtuous cycle, and we have heard the death spiral, and it is something that I am so glad you all have come to testify about as we wrestle with the heart of this. How do we build a stronger, better middle class, strong family foundations? We should measure the success of our Nation not by the GDP or the Dow. We should measure it by the success of our families. And many folks like to talk about family friendly policies or family values. Well, having a good job is a very important family value.
We are going to keep pursuing these issues because citizens across the country demand it. They want us to struggle with what is happening in America and try to put America back on track. So that is a responsibility in a Nation that is a democracy of the people, by the people, for the people.
To read the full transcript of this senate hearing please click here.
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