“At the root of much of rural America’s distress is the concentration of economic and financial power,” ILSR Co-Director Stacy Mitchell testified before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, April 20th.
“We have a few superstar cities mostly on the coasts that are prospering. Meanwhile, much of rural America is falling further and further behind. Good jobs are rare. Poverty is high. Grocery stores and banks are closing. Black and Native American communities have been especially hard hit,” she said at the hearing, which focused on the state of rural America.
Concentration of corporate power is centralizing wealth in the hands of the few while wiping out the independent businesses and well-paying jobs that are the foundation of rural economies, Mitchell explained in her testimony. Financial consolidation furthers this dynamic by starving rural entrepreneurs of capital, while providing ample backing to the largest and most dominant corporations.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) lauded Stacy as the one witness at the hearing who “I have heard talk about what the real problem is and that is consolidation.”
Stacy argued that today’s extreme level of market concentration and financial consolidation is not the product of inevitable forces. It is the result of deliberate policy decisions beginning in the 1980s that led to lax antitrust enforcement and deregulation of the banking system. In her testimony, Stacy lays out a structural framework to address rural distress and specific actions Congress can take to 1) restore the original purpose and vigor of our antitrust policies and break up monopolies and 2) fundamentally restructure the banking system to create more local financial institutions and reduce the size and market dominance of the megabanks.
You can watch the entire hearing here.
Read Stacy’s written testimony here.
Here are two short video clips of Stacy’s testimony and Senator Jon Tester’s response:
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