Yellen touts Biden economic record in Las Vegas visit

By: - August 15, 2023 5:33 am

“Unlike traditional supply-side economics, this approach cares not only about growth but also creating a fairer and more sustainable economy,” Janet Yellen said in Las Vegas Monday. (Photo: Michael Lyle)

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen touted U.S. President Joe Biden’s efforts to tackle inflation and credited his policy successes as boosting economic growth while speaking in Las Vegas on Monday. 

The visit, which began with a tour of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ training center, comes days ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Passed along a party line vote in 2022, the law made historic investments in climate change and long-sought after reforms to prescription drug pricing and health care policy. 

Most of her focus Monday was on the benefits of climate investments made possible by the law, which she said sought to address three goals to “tackle climate change, expand economic opportunity and strengthen our economic resilience and energy security.”

Some economists have noted the drop in inflation, which fell from 9.1% at its height in June 2022 to about 3.2% currently, resulted from multiple factors, including resolving supply chain issues related to the pandemic rather than the IRA.

While some polls have shown pessimism about the overall state of the economy, Yellen said other reports indicate people “say they feel very good about their own personal situation.”

Additionally, she said unemployment rates as of last month were “at a near record low of 3.5%” which she said was “less than a quarter of the unemployment rate recorded in April 2020.”

Because of Biden’s agenda, and the legislative wins since he took office in 2021, she said that the path the United State’s is on “so far shows we are on the right track even as we remain vigilant of potential challenges and uncertainties.”

Those uncertainties, she said, include Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine, which threatens global grain and food supplies. 

The passage of the IRA, in particular the climate investments, is one piece contributing to economic growth, she said.

“The climate transition is one of the biggest economic transitions in our lifetime,” she said. “We’re putting American workers and jobs at the center of clean energy transition.”

The strategy of the law, she said, was that by targeting public investments they could “help mobilize private capital toward compelling public policy objectives.”

Yellen said investments in demand and supply side incentives both help build a “green energy economy.”

“Expansions on the supply side are also matched by IRA tax credits and rebates to drive up demand for consumer goods like electric vehicles, heat pumps and energy efficient appliances,” she said. 

The climate crisis, which caused record breaking heat across the globe in July, is only expected to get worse and “presents an existential threat to us all.”

Even if people don’t feel the immediate impact of the climate crisis, Yellen said they feel the effects in other ways. 

“Home insurers are hiking rates or pulling back entirely from highly vulnerable areas in states like California and Florida,” she said. “It’s having a significant impact on homeownership.”  

It’s not just the IRA that is spurring economic growth in the United States, Yellen said. 

She said it was the “trifecta of historic investments” including the Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Investment Act of 2021 and the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 which have aided Biden in executing his economic agenda. 

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure law allocated about $4 billion in funding to Nevada while the $280 billion CHIPS bill is expected to boost domestic production of semiconductors. 

“Unlike traditional supply-side economics, this approach cares not only about growth but also creating a fairer and more sustainable economy,” Yellen said. “President Biden has advanced a significant core of the modern supply-side agenda through the passage of these three generational laws.”

Though she seldom mentioned the health and drug reforms of the IRA in her speech, in an interview Yellen said people will also feel the “direct benefits” of those components. 

“The IRA has brought down health care costs by expanding access to healthcare, bringing down the out of pocket costs of pharmaceuticals, capping the price of insulin at $35 a month,” she said. 

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Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle

Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues.