Fed Chair Janet Yellen won’t tell Bernie Sanders whether U.S. is democracy or oligarchy

Thursday, May 8, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Travis Gettys
Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Federal Reserve chair told Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that she shared his concerns about wealth inequality and its distorting effects on democracy, but she declined to offer any solutions.

Sanders pointed Wednesday during a Joint Economic Committee hearing to a recent study that found corporate interests dominated politics at the expense of ordinary citizens, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen said she agreed.

“All of the statistics on inequality you’re cited are ones that greatly concern me, and I think for the same reasons that you’re concerned about them,” Yellen said.

She said money was often the deciding factor in which voices were heard during the political process, but she stopped short when Sanders asked if the United States had ceased to be a capitalist democracy but had instead become an oligarchy.

“I prefer not to give labels, but there’s no question we’ve had the trend toward growing inequality, and I personally find it very worrisome trend that deserves the attention of policy makers,” Yellen said.

Sanders, who is mulling a 2016 presidential run as a populist progressive, asked whether Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget proposal calling for a full repeal of the estate tax – which he said applied to only the wealthiest 0.1 percent of American families — would benefit middle class families.

“I share your concern with inequality, but I guess I’m going to say on this that it’s up to the Congress to decide what’s appropriate,” Yellen said. “There are a number of different ways to address it (and) that certainly is one the list.

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