Members of Congress serving on a new “select” committee on inequality had no trouble social distancing at their inaugural hearing. That’s because the six seats reserved for Republicans were all empty.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had dutifully invited the GOP to participate, but after she vetoed two of their nominees for a different body — the January 6 Commission — the Republicans picked up their toys and went home in a huff.
To no one’s surprise, Democrats did not cry boohoo. Instead, they carried on with the business of launching the House Select Committee on Economic Disparity & Fairness in Growth.
In opening remarks on July 29, Pelosi explained that the committee will take a values-based, wholistic approach to the problem and recommend policy solutions to the various legislative committees of jurisdiction.
“We feel very concerned about the immorality of inequality in our country and we are going to do something about it,” the Speaker said.
L-R: Rep. Angie Craig, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Sara Jacobs at a June 16, 2021 news conference to announce members of the newly established Select Committee on Economic Disparity & Fairness in Growth. (Getty Images)
Witnesses at the first hearing came armed with bold ideas.
Professor James Galbraith, of the University of Texas at Austin, urged lawmakers to consider a federal job guarantee to “eliminate involuntary unemployment, set a basic wage standard, and provide willing workers with continuous employment on useful projects.”
In an apparent dig at the billionaire space race, he also called for policies to “bring the new plutocrats back to earth,” including taxes on assets that are hard to hide, such as land and mineral rights.