Read Our Interview With Chuck Schumer!
The Up to Us team of 2022 was given the exciting opportunity to ask New York State Senator, and current Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer some questions about fiscal sustainability and responsibility in the U.S. today. The Up to Us team was interested in his thoughts on the intersection between equity in other societal domains with fiscal sustainability, and asked him some questions to see his opinion on these issues.
Question from our Up to Us Team: Why is it important to promote racial equality when promoting a financially sustainable future within the United States?
Senator Schumer: Racial equality and economic equality go hand-in-hand. In order to address current economic issues and promote economic equality, you must also address the underlying issue of racial inequality. That is why under my leadership Senate Democrats introduced legislation like the Economic Justice Act to address systemic inequality and reverse historic underinvestment in communities of color – injustices that have only been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping those who have historically been disadvantaged and or discriminated against is integral to ensuring a strong and sustainable future – not only does this help minority communities – these investments have a widespread, long lasting impact and are inimical to growing the American middle class and to fostering a healthy civic culture.
Question from our Up to Us Team: Do you think that the national debt is cause for concern? Why or why not? Does it take precedence over the issue of ongoing inflation?
Senator Schumer: Right now, we are focused on getting costs down. Whether that is the cost of groceries, gas, prescription medicine, or other household items, we are determined to come up with solutions that will alleviate some of those high costs for all Americans. That is why I’ve advocated fiercely for President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which 17 Nobel Prize-winning economists agreed would reduce inflationary pressures. One example of recent action is my successfully urging President Biden to release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help bring relief at the gas pump, while at the same time advancing renewable energy to create a robust green economy – and boost American jobs – to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels. Tackling increased costs on families is an issue of utmost importance, and it requires dedication from both parties to address it.
Question from our Up to Us Team: How can we promote fiscal responsibility while simultaneously ensuring that we have an environmentally sustainable future? Should we promote renewable energy, nuclear energy, or a mixture of the two? If focusing on the former, what do you think about the local environmental ramifications of sources like hydroelectric?
Senator Schumer: Tackling climate change is a top priority for me and for Senate Democrats and, given the threat of human-induced global warming and climate change, needs to be a top priority for everyone. In order to deliver on our emissions targets, we are going to need a massive growth in renewable energy sources, like solar and wind – including offshore wind, which is booming here in New York. Investing in clean energy will not only promote good, high-paying jobs, it reduces local air pollution as well, easing the burden on disadvantaged communities so often located near current fossil fuel infrastructure. I firmly believe that we can’t just deliver on emissions, we need to ensure environmental justice is baked into the core of our policies. We have to weigh the benefits and costs of all the climate solutions out there because there is no silver bullet solution to climate change. As a community, a state, and a country, we need to come together around the solutions that can avoid the disastrous climate future that awaits us if we choose inaction, and simultaneously promote a more just and equitable future.
Question from our Up to Us Team: In what ways can we promote financial responsibility education in K-12 schools, and why do you think there is such a lack of fiscal education in our schools?
Senator Schumer: We can’t maintain our standing as the greatest country in the world if we can’t maintain an education system that is the greatest in the world. Education opens doors for young people, and that includes fiscal education. For many Americans, education is the ticket to a better life. It’s important to prepare our future leaders and give them the tools they’ll need to succeed once they are out of school and heading into the work force. Promoting financial literacy in K-12 schools benefits everyone, not just K-12 students.
You can view additional content produced by the team such as their special episodes of the Dishin' with Democracy Podcast here.