Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms welcomed U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to Atlanta Wednesday, noting that she’s the third cabinet secretary to visit the area in the last week.
“I don’t remember that happening—not recently anyway, so we are grateful for the support,” said Bottoms.
The U.S. Senate continues consideration of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that could mean a large investment of federal dollars in Metro Atlanta. Yellen was in town to tout the spending as a way to “repair the broken foundations of our economy.”
Yellen says the bipartisan bill introduced late Sunday in Washington makes investment in transit, clean energy and high-speed internet, which Yellen says is now a crucial public utility.
“My largest concern is not, ‘what are the risks if we make these big investments.’ It is: ‘what is the cost if we don’t,’” said Yellen.
Yellen says the Biden administration plans to pay for the spending by reforming the tax code, shifting more of the burden onto the highest-earning Americans, those making more than $400,000.
She says the current shortage in the workforce isn’t a result of people not wanting to work, but a failure to invest in programs that allow for more involvement in the workforce.
“Rather than invest in childcare that could help parents re-join the workforce, or in training programs that might help people earn a higher wage, or in infrastructure that could spur economic growth while greening our economy,” said Yellen. “Funding for these types of programs has been in long-term decline.”
Atlanta-area U.S. Reps. Nikema Williams, Carolyn Bourdeaux and Lucy McBath joined Yellen during her appearance.
“We’re so excited for the work that you’re doing here, because you’re truly invested in America’s children, family and women, helping them to be successful,” said Rep. McBath.
While in Atlanta, Yellen also met with business leaders and families who have benefited from relief aid that’s been doled out since the pandemic began. She also acknowledged that others are still waiting for that relief to arrive, with some facing eviction.
“Most state and local governments didn’t have agencies that did this kind of work, and the delays partly reflect the difficulty they have in starting up something new,” said Yellen.