Rep. Maxine Waters delivers this week’s CBC Message to America focusing on closing the racial wealth gap.
Waters, who is the ranking member of the Financial Services committee, has been concerned about the increasing wealth gap in America for a number of years. She is currently leading the campaign for a resolution backed by over 50 members of Congress that urges the United States Congress to “proactively implement policies to close the gap.”
According to Rep. Waters, the 2008 financial crisis “exposed weaknesses in our regulatory framework” and “brought to the forefront the widespread disparities that exist in a variety of aspects of life for African-American families.”
Waters cited a series of alarming statistics while explaining the stark differences in the cumulative wealth of African=American families and their White counterparts saying, “the median wealth of White households is about twenty times that of Black households and eighteen times that of Hispanic households.”
“These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter of a century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that have prevailed between those three groups for the two decades prior to the great recession that ended in 2009,” said Waters.
The Congresswoman from California’s 43rd congressional district explained “disparities in wealth have signifiant consequences.”
“Wealth building is the difference between sending your children to college or not,” Waters said. “As we learned with the recent financial crisis, wealth is the difference between the ability to make your mortgage payments and stay in your home or being forced out of your house and having to live on the streets.”
Waters believes the consequences of the growing wealth gap in America “stifles the economic mobility for communities of color” and is an “economic threat to the financial health and security of the entire nation.”
She later opined, “I believe the wealth gap has been perpetuated and widened precisely because of policy choices make by lawmakers.”
Waters added when Congress votes to paying for tax cuts for millionaires and endless wars in lieu of funding Pell Grants and community block grans, “they’re making a very clear statement about our national priorities.”
Rep. Waters pointed her finger at predatory practices instituted by the private sector that have adversely impacted communities of color. Waters said, “African Americans pay more interest rates on their car loans simply because of their race.”
“Our community is targeted by fraudulent for-profit colleges that have been found guilty of charging enormously high rates of tuition while failing to provide a quality education and preparing the students with the tools and skills that will qualify them for good paying jobs,” said Waters.
Congresswoman Waters then blasted the big banks for “disproportionately” subjecting minorities to “certain sub-prime mortgages and predatory loans” citing them as being the root causes of the the housing crisis, record levels of foreclosures in African American communities and subsequently wiping out 50 percent of Black wealth.
To combat all of the policies and practices that seem to target communities of color, Rep. Waters will introduce a credit reporting bill “that if implemented would immediately help African Americans enhance their purchasing power in our economy.”
Waters considers herself to be the strongest supporter of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “the only agency that has taken up the fight against predatory and discriminatory pay-day lenders, car dealers, for-profit colleges, check cashers, non-bank mortgage originators and debt collectors.”
Congresswoman Waters who has spent much of her time in Washington fighting against a wide variety of discriminatory financial practices and policies urged viewers to examine how the wealth gap personally impacts them. She also requested that the American people become “advocates for policy and programs that support equality, fairness and opportunities for all.”
Watch Congresswoman Maxine Water’s address in the video clip above.
For more information about the Congressional Black Caucus, visit cbc-butterfield.house.gov.