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Progressives praise Yellen but could soon clash with Biden’s choice of treasure

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Although she is a strong supporter of a major new economic relief program, she has also spoken emphatically about the need to contain the growing federal deficit. She is a longtime supporter of free trade, which many progressives see as a threat to American workers.

And while she oversaw the imposition of tough new banking rules as chairman of the Federal Reserve during Obama’s time, she played only a small direct role in shaping them, raising questions about the degree of aggressiveness of new financial regulations.

We had no illusions that we, leftists or progressives, are so powerful that we are the inescapable force of the US government, said Maurice BP-Weeks, co-executive director of the Action Center on Race and the Economy . We were going to have to push, make as much noise as possible, for her to respond to us and not to Wall Street.

The legacy of President Barack Obama is looming, whose efforts to help vulnerable communities in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis have fallen short of what progressive groups and millions of families wanted. were ultimately faced with foreclosure.

The last time around, the administration listened too much to opponents in the banks and on Wall Street about what could be done, and not enough to those of us on the ground who knew how families were facing and what point the programs were inadequate, said Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center.

After Biden’s selection from Yellen was revealed on Monday, leading progressives took to Twitter to congratulate her. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Called him an “exceptional choice” and “tough, intelligent and principled.

2 cheers for Janet Yellen at Treasury, tweeted former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. She’s not @SenWarren but she’s off the streets.

Since Yellen has spent most of her career focusing on labor markets and money economics, many other progressives are unsure of what to expect from her. But they note her willingness, when she was Fed chair, to engage with the Fed Up coalition, a leftist group that opposed interest rate hikes under her leadership. This relationship has helped shift the position of central banks towards inflation, where it will now be slower to increase borrowing costs that are a burden for many ordinary Americans.

Still, some of his past statements give them pause. Yellen, who sits on the board of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, has repeatedly warned of increasing debt over the past decade, even as deficit concerns have grown to more and more illegitimate on the left..

During an event in February at George Washington University, she noted that the ratio of debt to the size of the economy had doubled since the 2008 financial crisis.

For more or less the last 20 years at least, what you are seeing is that the trajectory of US debt is totally unsustainable under current tax and spending plans, she said. This fundamental problem … is something most people don’t understand, and I see very little evidence of concern about it in recent years.

This concern could spill over into the push by left-wing groups to eliminate student loan debt, which would further reduce federal government revenues, although Yellen has previously expressed concern about rising college costs and maintained the idea that student debt could keep millennials coming back from buying a house.

She also led a 1998 report as chief economist under President Bill Clinton, which argued that free trade generally did not trigger job losses, but rather led to a reassignment of workers. towards better jobs.

There are circumstances, “the report said,” in which trade can lead to job gains: when unemployment rates are high, expansion of export industries can be accomplished by hiring the unemployed. “

Jeff Hauser, director of the revolving door project, said he was encouraged by the visitor logs during Yellens’ time as Fed chairman, which shows that she met Warren and the representative more often. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) Than she did with some of the more moderate Democrats.

She also met the AFL-CIO on four occasions, including a discussion with the union federation at the start of her term. This suggests that Shell has an open door for progressives, he said.

It has always focused primarily on preventing and mitigating the effects of unemployment, he said. People can single out random quotes as they please, but progressives know who she is. She’s a factual person, who will update her assumptions as the facts dictate.

The top priority for almost all groups is the adoption of a new economic relief package, legislative negotiations where Yellen would play a key role on behalf of the administration. This should include provisions that prevent people from being deported as the health crisis persists, Saunders said.

Saunders stressed the need to cancel or postpone student loan payments more generally, especially as existing forbearance provisions will expire at the end of the year. And Yellen should work to ensure that the government does not revert to wage garnishment or tax credit cuts to collect student debt payments, she added.

The treasury has a lot of authority in how it collects debts owed to the federal government, and I think it could do it administratively, she said.

It is also important for Yellen to chart a course towards increasing affordable housing, according to Jesse Van Tol, who heads the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

Treasury owns controlling interests in the two mortgage companies at the center of the housing finance system, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and can drive reforms there and elsewhere. Van Tol criticized past efforts to overhaul the system to protect taxpayers from future losses, which he called a truly moot goal.

The aim should be to do a better job of ensuring broad access to homeownership, he said.

Van Tol described Yellen as incredibly kind, incredibly compassionate, although he admitted that she was less interested in politics, and he said she could seek to balance that with a more politically interested MP.

Environmental activists see Yellen as a potential ally in their quest to focus the financial sector on tackling climate change, but say she must go beyond calling for a carbon tax. Yellen called such a tax, which is even backed by companies like Exxon Mobil, as a classic solution to tackling greenhouse gas emissions. But a growing number of environmentalists argue that any tax high enough to curb emissions on its own would be so costly as to be politically unpleasant.

Supporters of tough financial rules hope Yellen will push to curb companies that weren’t subject to the same aggressive regulation as banks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, as chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Council.

There is hope it would take over from hedge funds and non-banks, said Marcus Stanley, policy director at Americans for Financial Reform.

In this regard, progressives will also be keeping a close eye on the team of financial regulators that will be appointed alongside Yellen, including the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The chairman of the SEC is an essential choice in financial regulation, Stanley said. This is what will hold up or lower the framework in terms of the real progress that can be achieved.

More generally, progressive groups would like to see coordinated efforts to address economic inequalities between the poor and people of color. BP-Weeks said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has been aggressive in creating an expansive portfolio.

I want to see Yellen just as active and pushing to use all of the tools that Treasury has, and a few that haven’t been used, to really stimulate and inject money into the economy, especially for the lower end. more vulnerable Black and brown, and working poor people, he said.

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