This week, an unusual seminar was held at the Capitol. Called “The Color of Wealth Summit,” it highlighted the racial disparities between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

The Color of Wealth Summit presented a new report, “Beyond Broke: Why Closing the Racial Wealth Gap is a Priority for National Economic Security.” The summit was hosted by the Center for Global Policy Solutions.

In the report and at the summit, the following data was presented: “While the overall wealth gap remains stunning, as Whites have a median net worth over 15 times that of Blacks ($111,740 vs. $7,113), and over 13 times that of Latinos ($111,740 vs. $8,113), when it comes to liquid wealth, the disparity is even starker. The median liquid wealth of Whites is over 100 times that of Blacks and more than 65 times that held by Latinos.

“When retirement savings are taken out of the analysis, the disparities in liquid wealth are even more disturbing. Blacks are found to hold a mere $25 and Latinos just $100 in liquid wealth, compared to $3,000 held by the typical White household.”

We are concerned about what is happening in the rest of the world, but sometimes we need to worry about our own people and our own problems. A wealth gap of this proportion can create problems both here and abroad.

James Cullum, our reporter from Talk Radio News Service, was at the summit. He listened to the members of Congress speaking.

“If we don’t work to close the racial wealth gap, it will ultimately lead to the American economic gap causing our economy to fall behind China,” said U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. “If the fastest growing communities in our country are not afforded the same economic and educational opportunities to participate in our economy, how can we continue to compete in the world?”

Fudge, supports reallocating 10 percent of all government monies into 400 poverty-stricken counties across the U.S. Recommendations in the report include:

  • Congressional passage of living-wage policies
  • Transparent mortgage-relief programs
  • Expansion of the Social Security cap on taxable wages so that high-wage employees can contribute more

Many lenders may remain cautious about financing new loans to minorities with questionable credit, and critics of the Obama administration say it is not doing enough to hold financial institutions accountable.

“Low and moderate income people cannot get financing,” said Bruce Marks, founder and CEO of the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America. “Banks are not being regulated. [P]rices will go down again, and there will be another mortgage crisis.”

This kind of wealth gap not only will stunt America’s growth, it can be dangerous for all of us. We need to pull together as a country. Closing this gap will be a good step in that direction.

Media wishing to interview Ellen Ratner, please contact [email protected].


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