Today, EPI President Thea Lee testified before the Economic Policy Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs to answer the question: “Economic mobility: Is the American Dream in crisis?”
In her testimony, Lee explained that the American Dream is unattainable for many working people, due to high levels of economic inequality and racial disparities. She argued that this inequality is a direct result of a series of policy choices that have weakened the power of workers to defend their rights in the workplace and in the political arena, thereby tilting the playing field in favor of moneyed interests. However, this also means policymakers have the power to reverse those choices—and they should use it.
“In recent decades, we have seen surging economic inequality, which is a threat to our democracy,” said Lee. “Congress must address longstanding racial inequities in the economy, while also passing key policies to decrease overall inequality and promote widespread prosperity.”
Lee highlighted several key policies that Congress could implement to curb skyrocketing inequality, which would go far to assuring that each generation can reach its full potential. Priority policy measures include raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act—which would allow workers to more easily join unions and bargain collectively; holding the Federal Reserve accountable to reach and maintain full employment; targeting government spending toward addressing structural needs—such as infrastructure and child care; renewing our commitment to public education; and addressing long-standing racial inequities in housing, employment, and wealth.