Janet Yellen, President-Elect Joe Biden’s pick for Treasury secretary, said at her Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday that more federal aid is needed for distribution of the coronavirus vaccine, unemployment insurance, small businesses assistance and for Americans at risk of going hungry or losing their homes.
”More must be done,” said Yellen, in her prepared remarks. “Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later. … With interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big in the long run … The benefits will far outweigh the costs.”
Yellen said she would work with the Biden administration on a second economic relief package “to get through these dark times.” Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion relief package that targets the priorities Yellen laid out.
Republicans have criticized the size and breadth of the plan because of the growing national debt and provisions like a $15-an-hour minimum wage, and they did so at the Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing.
“Now is not the time to enact a laundry list of structural economic reforms,” said Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
In her remarks and responses to questions from members of the Senate Finance Committee, the former Fed chair acknowledged the country’s growing debt burden but noted that despite the increase in government debt and in the debt-to-GDP ratio, the cost to service that debt is no higher now than it was before the financial crisis of 2008.