Yellen visits Midwest to showcase improving consumer sentiment, take aim at Trump tax cuts

Jan 25, 2024, 11:35 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is visiting Illinois and electoral battleground Wisconsin this week to make a case for the Biden administration’s economic agenda and offer a reminder about the Trump administration tax cuts, which she says added to the deficit and did little to promote investment.

Yellen’s travel is billed as official rather than political but comes as President Joe Biden is increasingly shifting his focus to an expected rematch against former President Donald Trump in November. The economy has been a drag on Biden’s poll numbers, but there are recent signs of improving consumer sentiment.

“Though some forecasters thought a recession last year was inevitable, President Biden and I did not,” Yellen said Thursday at the Chicago Economic Club. “Instead of contracting, the economy has continued to grow, driven by American workers and President Biden’s economic strategy. It now produces far more goods and services than it did before the pandemic.”

The government reported Thursday that the economy grew at an unexpectedly brisk 3.3% annual pace from October through December.

Yellen also said Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act “prioritized tax cuts for corporations, disproportionately benefited top earners and did not fix the broken international tax system that encourages companies to shift jobs and profits overseas.”

Yellen said the tax cuts added $2 trillion to the national deficit “while doing little to spur investment.”

Trump, for his part, said during a Fox News town hall this month that “the economy is horrible except the stock market’s going up,” adding, “I think the stock market’s going up because I’m leading Biden in all the polls.”

Yellen on Friday will tour a Milwaukee skilled trades employment program being expanded with federal funding. Her visit to Wisconsin comes a day after Biden himself was visiting the state to showcase the administration’s infrastructure investments.

In her Chicago speech, Yellen hinted at a hoped-for second Biden term, saying, “There’s much more the president and I would like to do to support the middle class.” She pointed to boosting the child tax credit, which was temporarily expanded for a year to include low-income families during the pandemic, but ended in January 2022.

Since then, 2022 Census data showed that the child poverty rate more than doubled from 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022.

A bipartisan agreement that would revive a variety of tax breaks for businesses and enhance the child tax credit, though not to pandemic-era levels, is moving through Congress.

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Yellen visits Midwest to showcase improving consumer sentiment, take aim at Trump tax cuts