Dearborn — US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Thursday used a visit to Metro Detroit to promote President Joe Biden’s domestic economic agenda ahead of November’s midterm elections.
Yellen, speaking from the Rouge Ford Motor Co. Electric Vehicle Center. and with a battery-electric F-150 Lightning in the background, used his roughly 30-minute speech to tout the core of Biden’s domestic agenda: a bipartisan infrastructure law, a bipartisan infrastructure law, the CHIPS Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Throughout, he highlighted income and wealth inequality in the US and cast what he described as “modern supply-side” economic policies as a way to support higher growth and greater equity in the economy.
The pandemic, Yellen said, highlights and exacerbates existing economic problems such as supply chain vulnerabilities, and she opposes a return to the pre-pandemic status quo.
“Pandemics expose our vulnerability, but our economy has long suffered from soaring inequality, weak growth and a feeling of being left behind for many – too much,” he said. “Sluggish productivity growth and declining labor force participation have weighed on our economic potential. And growing disparities in economic conditions across geographies and racial groups have exacerbated inequality.”
While in Metro Detroit, Yellen had lunch with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and toured Livernois Avenue, where she saw the winner of Motor City Match Complete Image Manufacturing, which creates custom clothing, and the Narrow Way Cafe. He visited the Rouge Electric Vehicle Center, where Lightning was assembled, before his speech.
The visit comes less than a week before Biden’s planned stop at the Detroit Auto Show on Wednesday. Biden is expected to highlight the EV manufacturing “boom” in the US in response to his economic plans, according to the White House.
Yellen was introduced by Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist and Ford’s chief financial officer, John Lawler. Three members of the Michigan congressional delegation attended: Democratic Representatives Debbie Dingell, Andy Levin and Haley Stevens.
Ahead of Yellen’s speech, Republican lawmakers criticized the Biden administration for its economic “failures” including historic inflation rates, with Rep. US Bill Huizenga, R-Holland, said he felt bad for Yellen because she was asked to go to Michigan and “defend the untenable.”
Tom Barrett’s State Senator, R-Charlotte, noted the pain of rising prices for working families.
“Secretary Yellen first tried to tell us that inflation is not happening. And they say it’s a sign of a good growing economy, and they say it’s temporary. All of these things have piled up to such an extent that they are having a devastating effect on working families in Michigan,” said Barrett, who challenges US Democrat Elissa Slotkin, D-Lansing.
“Secretary Yellen is now saying that the federal government will force us out of fossil fuels when energy is the lifeblood of our economy. You can’t have a thriving economy without access to adequate energy and adequate means to generate the power we rely on so much.”
Michigan Republicans also criticized Yellen’s visit in a statement ahead of the event. And the Americas branch for Michigan Prosperity — a libertarian conservative political advocacy group funded by David and Charles Koch — noted in a news release that the visit came just two weeks after Ford confirmed it was cutting 2,000 salaried jobs and 1,000 contractor positions. The layoff news follows the automaker receiving more than $100 million in state subsidies linked to hourly manufacturing job creation.
Meanwhile, Yellen hailed economic achievements under the Biden administration such as returning to pre-pandemic levels of employment. However, he acknowledged the impact of inflation on Americans, saying that fighting inflation was the government’s “top priority”.
He highlighted various provisions of the Biden administration’s signature law, including funding to increase clean energy production, steps to lower Medicare drug prices and investments aimed at improving the Internal Revenue Service’s tax enforcement capabilities. He also pointed to the massive climate investments included in the IRA, including clean energy tax credits aimed at increasing production.
Yellen said the government’s economic agenda would lead to increased productive capacity, increased resilience to global supply shocks, and greater economic equity in the U.S. With U.S. employment returning to pre-pandemic levels, she argued that the country was “uniquely located for sideline expansion.” offerings that deliver sustainable growth and reduce inequality.”
Looking ahead, Yellen said “the most pressing challenge is to return to a stable price environment without compromising the economic gains of the past two years.”
The Michigan Democrats, meanwhile, praised the visit and the Biden administration’s legislative victory.
“It’s a shame that Congressman Bill Huizenga and every other extreme Michigan Republican voted against this historic law, which will help repair our roads and bridges, create well-paying jobs, and put money back in Michigan’s pockets,” he said. party spokeswoman Alyssa Bradley. in a statement.
Washington Bureau Chief Melissa Nann Burke contributed.