Capitalism has not served the US economy “as well as it should,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a London audience Friday before adding that “we have to correct that.”
In response to a question from an audience member at the Chatham House think tank who decried, “the corporate capture of government in the UK as well as the US,” Pelosi drew a distinction between what she called “stakeholder capitalism” and “shareholder capitalism.”
“You go back 40 years ago or something, we had in our country what was called ‘stakeholder capitalism,’ where … when productivity rose, the CEO pay rose and the worker pay rose,” she said. “Since then, it’s become ‘shareholder capitalism’ [in which] productivity rises, CEO pay rises, worker pay stagnates … and that’s just not right.”
Earlier in her remarks, Pelosi emphasized that capitalism “is our system, it is our economic system” and claimed that “what we want to do is not depart from that, but to improve it.”
“You cannot have a system where the success of some springs from the exploitation of the workers and springs from the exploitation of the environment and the rest,” the speaker went on. “And we have to correct that. I do think there’s a growing awareness, even in the private sector, that we have to do better.”
On Monday, the Speaker will call the House back into session from its August recess and begin the delicate process of attempting to get two very different spending bills through her chamber.
Pelosi has promised moderate Democrats that she will hold a vote on a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal, which passed the Senate last month, by Sept. 27. However, progressives have threatened to block that bill if a larger $3.5 trillion spending proposal has not passed both houses of Congress by then.
However, the fate of the $3.5 trillion plan in the Senate is uncertain, since Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) have said they will not support that level of spending. With the chamber split 50-50, Democrats cannot hope to pass the bill if they lose either Manchin or Sinema.
The president met with both senators separately at the White House on Wednesday, and reportedly failed to convince the West Virginian to come on board and support the larger bill.
The $3.5 trillion plan, which Democratic leadership has tried to cast as Biden following in the footsteps of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, would hike some corporate and income tax rates to create new initiatives to subsidize parenthood, education and health care programs, as well as fund new housing and environmental initiatives.
In London Friday, Pelosi said that such efforts were vital “because democracy has as its backbone a strong middle class and opportunity for those who aspire to it as well.”
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