Biden’s Treasury Secretary Speaks About ‘Equity’ In Economic Decisions

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Sam Dorman Contributor
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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen promoted “equity” in economic policy and criticized the Supreme Court’s recent affirmative action decision while speaking Friday at the Essence Festival.

“It’s important that I acknowledge this up front: the economy has never operated on a fair playing field for Black communities and other communities of color,” Yellen said, according to remarks released by her department. “Wealth and income disparities have persisted since I began my work as an economist in the seventies.”

Her comments came during the festival’s “Global Black Economic Forum.” Meanwhile, the Supreme Court waded into the debate over alleged institutional racism by issuing a decision restricting racial preferences in college admissions.

“I want to express my disappointment in the Supreme Court’s decision yesterday, effectively striking down decades of precedent on affirmative action,” Yellen said. “Diversity is a core strength of our country. I spent a significant part of my career on university campuses — and I know that our entire community benefits when our student bodies reflect all of America.” (RELATED: Biden’s Treasury Department Creates ‘Racial Equity’ Task Force to Look For Racism In The Economy)

Yellen went on to tout billions of dollars the administration had invested in the black community, and described President Biden’s economic policy as “designed to invest in people and places that are full of potential but lack resources — providing a generational opportunity for these communities to build wealth.”

The Department of the Treasury celebrated Juneteenth this year with a fact sheet outlining efforts by the department to boost investment in the black community. That included $1.4 billion invested in “Black-owned and Black-majority shareholder depository institutions” through the Emergency Capital Investment Program. The Department awarded $188 million to Black-owned businesses in FY2022 — more than double the $75 million awarded in FY2020.

Biden made equity a priority from the outset of his administration when he signed an executive order directing his agencies to “recognize and work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.” Part of that entailed creating an Equitable Data Working Group — which included the Secretary of the Treasury — to gather data for advancing equity.

The department came under fire this year for its controversial Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity, which Republican Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles tried to eliminate through legislation.

“Right now, hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being spent by the Treasury Department to promote the Biden administration’s exclusionary and racist DEI ideology,” Ogles said, according to a Fox News report in April.

“My legislation would eliminate the ridiculous 25-member committee on ‘racial equity’ that currently exists in the Treasury Department. Americans deserve an Executive focused on enacting sound fiscal policy, not diversity quotas.” Congressional Republicans also launched an investigation into the committee last year.

Conservatives have criticized the Biden administration’s broader focus on equity as unconstitutional discrimination and violating federal civil rights law. (RELATED: Treasury Department Hires First-Ever ‘Counselor for Racial Equity’)

“Equity plans by the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Education, Energy, Justice, Transportation, the Treasury, and others call for steering contracts and other kinds of federal procurement toward the Administration’s favored identity groups,” a May 2022 paper the from Heritage Foundation reads.

“In the context of hundreds of billions of dollars in annual federal contracting and procurement activity, this contact-steering could damage or benefit countless businesses based on the immutable characteristics of owners and employees, as well as on personal sexual identifications or orientations. An additional consequence could be that contracts are awarded to companies that are unqualified to perform the necessary work, resulting in substandard service delivery for the government — and taxpayers.”