WASHINGTON – The Maryland congressional delegation, led by Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Md.-05), today gathered for a roundtable discussion with experts from the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and Associated Black Charities to discuss potential federal policies that could help close the growing racial wealth gap in Maryland and nationwide. Lawmakers heard case studies of successful local and state partnerships, along with essential questions that can increase the likelihood of developing racially equitable policies. Public policy, historically, has played a role in both creating and dismantling structural and institutional barriers that disproportionately impact marginalized groups, including racial groups.
“Congress can do more to mitigate the widening of race-based income inequality by ensuring that quality education, housing and health care are available to all Americans regardless of race,” said Senator Cardin. “I thank my colleagues, as well as the Associated Black Charities and Maryland Center on Economic Policy, for taking time to share some of the proven ways to increase income and wealth for Marylanders, especially the minority community that has historically been locked out of so many of these foundational economic opportunities. Team Maryland recognizes that this is not a new phenomenon but the wealth gap has been growing and we must do all we can to knock down the institutional barriers that have helped perpetuate this divergence.”
“Increasing economic opportunities for all Marylanders is my top priority. We must continue to work together – at the federal, state, and local level – to make lasting changes to reduce inequality. The Maryland Center on Economic Policy and the Associated Black Charities are doing vital work to address this issue, and I appreciated the opportunity to join them in this discussion today,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“I appreciated the opportunity to join with my colleagues from Maryland in a wide-ranging discussion on ways we can work to close the racial wealth gap in our state,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Congress must be doing all that it can to ensure every American has access to economic opportunity, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Delegation to break down barriers to opportunity for all Marylanders.”
“Not only do minority families earn less, studies show it’s often harder for them to get bank loans, rent homes and buy health insurance,” said Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.-02). “Public policy undoubtedly has a role in creating these barriers to the American Dream for certain groups, and public policy can play a role in fixing it. All lawmakers are called to honor a commitment to fairness and equality.”
“Too often, minority communities in Maryland and around the country are locked out of good-paying jobs, high-quality education, affordable health care and the chance to fully participate in our democracy,” said Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.-03). “We must eliminate these barriers – wherever they exist – and improve outcomes and opportunities for every community in America. It was encouraging to meet with leaders in Maryland today to discuss these important issues and highlight key policies and reforms that can help create a more just and equitable nation.”
“We must do more across the nation to reverse the racial wealth gap, and Maryland should be at the forefront of that effort. As policymakers, we should ensure we’re putting in place the systems necessary to promote economic equality and broaden opportunity for all of our communities,” said Congressman John Delaney (D-Md.-06). “I’m grateful to the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and Associated Black Charities for today’s discussion and leading on this critical issue.”
“From segregation in federal housing and the armed forces to race discrimination in farm policy and federal employment, the U.S. government was a key and deliberate actor in promoting apartheid in America over the course of our history,” said Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-Md.-08). “We have made dramatic progress in our country only at times — like the Civil War, Reconstruction and the Great Society — when Congress and the federal government champion racial justice and economic opportunity and inclusion for all. We need a resurgence of federal action to make America its best self.”
“Far too many people of color are still not participating in our state’s growth or benefiting from our nation’s success, and this racial injustice impacts us all,” said Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.-07). “We must address the effects of historically unjust public policy and implement inclusive strategies that will empower disenfranchised communities and narrow the wealth gap.”
“The Maryland congressional delegation once again proves how far ahead they are in their thinking and desire to maintain Maryland as a competitive state by exploring the use tools that provide a racial equity framework,” said Diane Bell-McKoy, President and CEO of Associated Black Charities. “We know with the increasing and projected demographic growth of Brown and Black people in Maryland and across the country, it will be important that our policies support their economic advancement which in turn benefits all of Maryland’s citizens.”
“Our economy will be stronger if everybody has a chance to succeed. We have a long history in this country of public policies that have created barriers to success for certain groups,” said Benjamin Orr, Executive Director, Maryland Center on Economic Policy. “Analyzing the policies we have today and policies proposed in the future using an equity lens is the only way we can ensure we’re removing those barriers and working towards a future with broadly shared prosperity.”