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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Waters Leads Crusade to Close Nation’s Widening Wealth Gap

March 18, 2015
Press Release

Waters Leads Crusade to Close Nation's Widening Wealth Gap

 

Senior Democrat Challenges Congress to Tackle National Crisis Head on with Resolution to Address Wealth Gap

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of Financial Services Committee, introduced the "Wealth Gap Resolution" to address the nation's widening wealth disparities and their crippling effects on working class families and communities of color.

Wealth is the difference between sending your children to college or not," said Congresswoman Waters. "It's the difference between retiring with a comfortable nest egg or relying on Social Security.  And it's the difference between starting your own business or working at a low-paying job. So when we talk about the wealth gap and economic equality, we're not just talking about numbers. We're not just talking about not having as much as the other guy. We're talking about pulling families out of poverty, keeping them out of poverty, and ensuring that their children and their grandchildren never fall back into poverty again."

 

"President Barack Obama has already recognized inequality as the ‘defining challenge of our time,'" said Congresswoman Waters. "Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have acknowledged just how harmful inequality and the wealth gap are for many middle class families. The time is now to meet words with actions. We have a moral obligation to address this crisis with substantive solutions."

 

The Wealth Gap Resolution already has over 50 co-sponsors including  Members from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and several members of the Financial Services Committee.

 

For the duration of her career, Congresswoman Waters has been outspoken on the widening wealth gap and its debilitating consequences and will continue this fight in the 114th Congress. In her role as Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, Congresswoman Waters has brought the issue to the forefront during several of the Committee's hearings.  She has explained that although we may be seeing signs of economic growth, "the brutal truth is millions continue to teeter on the brink of poverty and financial collapse." She went on to say that, "Some people in my district are still struggling to recover from the crisis. Systemic inequities distort progress and opportunity for tens of millions of Americans – most especially low and middle-income Americans and communities of color."

 

The "Wealth Gap Resolution" is the first step in resolving this problem by acknowledging that it exists. The Resolution highlights the fact that as a result of the Great Recession, the middle class and people of color have lost substantial amounts of their wealth, limiting their ability to build a savings, start a business, plan for emergencies, withstand another financial crisis, pay for their retirement, afford their children's college education or simply manage everyday expenses. 

 

The "Wealth Gap Resolution" also acknowledges the racial and ethnic components of the wealth gap that are often overlooked. The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of Black household and 18 times that of Latino households. Additionally, White households have $100,000 more in liquid retirement savings than both African-American and Latino households.  Such disparity leaves communities of color with no conceivable path to ensure their families don't fall victim to intergenerational poverty. To these populations, wealth is principally derived from homeownership, an idea often hailed as the quintessential American Dream. But after finding themselves on the receiving end of decades of predatory lending and other discriminatory  practices, the 2008 financial crisis sent these families' wealth – and their hopes of obtaining that American Dream – plummeting. 

 

Lastly, the Resolution concludes that the wealth gap is a by-product of public policy choices by lawmakers and makes clear that solutions addressing the wealth gap must involve legislative changes.  As the Congresswoman has explained, the record level wealth gap isn't accidental." Instead, the inequality we are experiencing now is a result of policy decisions that favored the upper class. Now, is the time to return the focus of this Congress on the middle class and implement policies that will return this country on a sustainable economic path.

 

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