Remarks by Treasury Department’s Counselor for Racial Equity Janis Bowdler at the 2024 UnidosUS Changemakers Summit

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, everyone. It’s an honor to be here today at the 2024 UnidosUS Changemakers Summit. 

At the Treasury Department, we believe in a fundamental truth: every family deserves the opportunity to thrive, regardless of their background, zip code, or the diverse ways they define “family.”

This belief underpins our work and shapes our vision for the future. We understand that racial equity is not just a moral imperative, but an economic one. Failing to invest in underserved communities hinders our national prosperity, limiting the potential of entire segments of our society. 

Our goal is to drive an inclusive and resilient economy that fosters opportunity for all Americans. We are committed to addressing structural inequities that have historically prevented individuals and communities from reaching their full potential. This is what Secretary Yellen has referred to as “modern supply side economics.” We believe that by investing in people, places, and infrastructure, we can unlock the immense potential that lies within every corner of our nation and broaden economic opportunity across the country.

Our work has already yielded significant progress. The American Rescue Plan, a landmark piece of legislation, provided critical economic support during the height of the pandemic. It helped stabilize families and businesses, preventing widespread economic devastation – helping to secure the most equitable economic recoveries on record.  While more work remains:

  • Hispanic homeownership rates increased by 2 percentage points from 2019 to 2023.
  • Median real earnings for Latino workers increased nearly 4% 2019Q4 to Q42023.
  • Hispanic business ownership has hit an all-time high of 9.8%.
  • Hispanic family wealth increased by 47% from 2019 to 2022. 

Now, as we move forward, our focus shifts towards fostering inclusive growth and building lasting assets. 

Our efforts fall into five key areas:

  1. Understanding the Impact of Racial Inequity: We are committed to developing a comprehensive understanding of how racial inequity hinders our national economy. Through data-driven analysis and research, we aim to identify the systemic challenges holding back communities of color and other underserved groups. This knowledge will inform the development of targeted solutions and guide our policy decisions.
     
    • A 2023 study by the Treasury Department found that the Premium Tax Credit (helping families purchase health insurance), the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Child Tax Credit provide significant benefits for Latino families.[1] 
       
  2. Strengthening Capital Delivery Systems: We are actively working to strengthen the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) that serve as vital lifelines for underserved communities. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) has seen historic levels of investment, distributing billions of dollars in grants and capital. These resources empower CDFIs and MDIs to provide critical financial services, such as loans and investment capital, to communities that have traditionally been excluded from mainstream financial institutions.
     
    • For example, Treasury’s Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP) has invested $1.6 billion in Latino-owned and Latino-majority shareholder depository institutions. We estimate that investments across the entire ECIP portfolio may increase lending in Latino communities by nearly $58 billion over the next decade. Also, CDFI Fund’s Equitable Recovery Program (ERP) includes 70 grants totaling $226 million to CDFIs in Puerto Rico – the largest infusion of ERP funding to any single state or territory.[2]  
       
  3. Protecting and Growing Assets: Building financial security and achieving economic mobility are essential for individuals and families to thrive. We are working on strategies to help ensure everyone has the opportunity to accumulate assets, such as housing or retirement savings, which can provide a buffer against financial hardship and create opportunities for future investment.
     
    • For example, the 2021 Advance Child Tax Credit helped reduce poverty among Hispanic Children from 14.7% in 2020 to 8.4% in 2021.  This is why President Biden continues to advocate for its reinstatement, and why the Treasury Department has incorporated the lessons learned from our outreach partnerships to ensure we maximize credit uptake among the Hispanic community. 
       
  4. Promoting Economic Mobility Through a Fair Tax System: We believe that a fair and equitable tax system plays a vital role in promoting economic mobility. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) includes critical funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that is being used to help ensure everyone can access the tax credits and benefits they deserve.
     
    • For example, these improvements include increased funding for customer service, modernized technology, and enhanced outreach efforts to underserved communities – including modernizing the Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
       
  5. Building a Diverse and Inclusive Treasury Department: We understand that diversity and inclusion are not just abstract ideals; they are essential for effective policymaking and service delivery. We are actively building a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of America, ensuring that the voices and perspectives of all communities are represented within the halls of the Treasury Department.
  • In FY21-FY23 Treasury spent $45 million in Hispanic communities in procurements efforts.

We recognize that achieving our goals requires collaboration. We are actively seeking partnerships with government agencies, the private sector, and community organizations. By working together, we can leverage the strengths of each sector to multiply the impact of our efforts and create a more equitable future for all.

The journey towards a truly equitable economy is long and complex, but we are firmly committed to the path we have embarked upon. We believe that by investing in our communities, empowering individuals, and fostering a fair and inclusive economic system, we can unlock the vast potential of our nation and ensure that every American family has the opportunity to thrive.

Thank you.

 

###
 


[1] Disparities in the Benefits of Tax Expenditures by Race and Ethnicity | U.S. Department of the Treasury

[2] https://home.treasury.gov//news/press-releases/jy1397 

Official news published at https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/jy2158

digital marketing best company