WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee – along with the Republican Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID) today held a hearing to gather information on ways the committee can help grow the economy. Last week, Brown and Crapo began a process to collect proposals that will help the Committee identify specific, bipartisan proposals to promote growth, and help consumers and companies better participate in the U.S. economy.
Today’s hearing looked at the role of financial institutions in growing the economy. Brown said one of the best ways these institutions can help is by raising wages for workers.
“Hard work simply isn’t paying off the way it used to. And that’s true for all workers, across industries and income levels. Whether you punch a time sheet or make a salary or earn tips, whether you’re a contract worker or a temp. Whether you work in a call center on a factory floor or in a bank,” said Brown. “One of the best ways that financial services companies can help economic growth is to pay their workers a living wage and provide decent benefits. It should come as no great shock that demand for housing and other goods and services is tepid – too many Americans are struggling to make ends meet.”
Earlier this month in Columbus, Brown outlined a plan to restore the value of work in four key ways:
1. Raising workers’ wages and benefits
2. Giving workers more power in the workplace
3. Making it possible for more workers to save for retirement
4. Encouraging more companies to invest in their workforces
“Most public corporations seem to have become beholden to the quarterly earnings report. One survey of financial executives from public companies found that 78 percent would sacrifice economic value of their own company just to meet financial reporting targets. That’s no way to grow our economy,” said Brown. “Families don’t think in terms of three-month earnings quarters – they think in terms of school years, and 30-year mortgages, and years left to save for retirement.”
During the hearing, Brown also highlighted the important role of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in helping both rural and urban communities draw private capital to leverage investment in economically distressed communities. The Administration’s budget proposal eliminates CDFI Fund grants. Brown raised concerns over these cuts, highlighting the success of a CDFI, the Progress Fund, in helping East Liverpool’s American Mug & Stein restructure its debt and double its workforce.