The Senate Finance Committee on Jan. 22 voted unanimously to advance President Biden’s nomination of Janet Yellen for Treasury secretary to the full Senate for a vote. Yellen, who formerly served as chair of the Federal Reserve, would become the first woman to hold the position. (The Hill, Jan. 22)
- Yellen testified before the committee earlier this week that “the world has changed,” encouraged policymakers to “act big,” and addressed fiscal relief, potential tax increases and the growing budget deficit. (Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19)
- “Neither the President-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden,” she said. “But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big. In the long run, I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time.” (Yellen testimony, Jan. 19)
- In follow-up written Q&A with the committee, Yellen addressed a wide variety of policy issues including tax policy and climate change. Among her answers in the document:
“Both the President and I believe we can turn the threat of climate change into an opportunity to boost our economy and reinvigorate old and new industries to create high paying middle class jobs across America. President Biden has a comprehensive plan to invest in the United States, create a clean energy economy, and address the crisis of climate change. I am focused on the President's agenda, including investments in the clean energy economy, to address climate change and create good paying jobs and energy efficiency technologies, as well as clean electricity standards that will achieve carbon-pollution-free electricity by 2035.”
- Yellen also said she planned to start a new Treasury "hub" that would examine financial system risks arising from climate change and on related tax policy incentives, POLITICO's Zachary Warmbrodt reports.
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who is poised to chair the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement after the hearing, “As we continue to deal with the worst economic crisis in a century, it’s critically important that she be leading the Treasury Department as soon as possible.”
Roundtable’s DeBoer & Policy Priorities
Real Estate Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer commented in the media this week on the Biden Administration and policy priorities ahead.
- In Commercial Property Executive’s Jan. 22 article, Industry Responds as Biden Kicks Off Tenure (cpexecutive.com), DeBoer states, “There are many serious issues facing the nation, but job number one is winning the ongoing battle against the health and economic consequences of the pandemic.” He added, “In addition, we expect robust debate and activity around housing availability, infrastructure and immigration reform and expanding opportunities for all Americans.”
- The Roundtable and 12 national real estate organizations on Dec. 16, 2020 congratulated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on their historic election and submitted detailed policy recommendations to the incoming administration on COVID-19 relief, sustainability, housing, immigration, tax policy infrastructure, and other policy issue areas. (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 18, 2020)
- The industry letter acknowledges the many economic and social challenges confronting the country and the Biden Administration, including the national response to COVID-19. The letter and supporting policy memo were also sent to every congressional office on Capitol Hill.
- DeBoer also participated in Jan. 19 BisNow webinar with Roundtable Member Steven Witkoff, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of Witkoff, and W. Edward (Ed) Walter – Global Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Land Institute and current co-chair of The Roundtable’s Research Committee – that focused on future economic stimulus proposals from the Biden Administration and industry priorities.
- DeBoer said, “What Biden has suggested already is very positive. We need to go bold and big. So when we look at this next wave of legislation, we’re going to be looking for how does it distribute the vaccine because until that occurs it is going to be difficult for cities and states and businesses to regain their footing. We have also worked hard on the concept of rent assistance and we have urged that impacted businesses also be able to get some rental assistance.”
- He added, “We are also very hopeful that in the next bill we can get some additional clarity on liability concerns for businesses. And going forward, we’re concerned that for leasing and refinancing, there may be a need to have a program along the lines of what was established after 9-11 for terrorism insurance. There may be a need for a pandemic risk insurance federal program that would allow people to help mitigate the risk of a future pandemic and that insurance would be available to any kind of business.”
The Roundtable’s policy agenda and the Biden Administration’s proposals will be discussed during both The Roundtable’s business meeting and policy advisory committee meetings during the organization’s State of the Industry Meeting on Jan. 26-27 (all virtual).
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