A Shocking Claim by Janet Yellen

Secretary Yellen’s claim that overturning Roe would be bad for the economy is a shocking assertion from a treasury secretary who is failing to address a crisis of stagflation.

AP/Jacquelyn Martin, file
Treasury Secretary Yellen speaks to the Atlantic Council on April 13 at Washington. AP/Jacquelyn Martin, file

Of all the attempts to buffalo the Supreme Court into vouchsafing a constitutional right to abortion, the most bizarre — and inappropriate — is Secretary Yellen’s claim, before Congress, that overturning Roe would be bad for the economy. It’s an absolutely shocking assertion from a treasury secretary who is failing to address a crisis of stagflation that threatens to tip our economy into an unnecessary recession.

We understand that Secretary Yellen made her claim in answer to a question from Senator Menendez of the Banking Committee. While giving her answer, though, she appeared, at least to us, to be glancing at notes prepared in advance. This as she suggested that “eliminating the right of women to make decisions about whether and when to have children” would have “very damaging effects on the economy.” That is, the question was a set up.

Either way, it was a disgraceful performance. It would be nice to see the Republicans on the Banking Committee dig down into the statistics to discover the relationship between national population growth and national prosperity. We say that as a veteran of years of foreign corresponding in the Third World, where the leftist ideology was that population growth is bad for developing nations (never mind developed lands).

This crackpot idea was launched, in part, by Robert Strange McNamara, when he emerged as president of the World Bank. Its main result was horrifying policies designed to control population growth, with, say, one-child policies in China and onerous population control measures in India — and often with catastrophic consequences that had not been anticipated by the noble comrades. 

Ross Douthat has written eloquently about the victims of sex-selective abortions.  One piece headlined “160 Million and Counting” referred to the toll of “missing” girls as a result of these procedures in countries like India, China, Korea, and even America. Mr. Douthat’s column came 20 years after Amartya Sen’s essay about sex selection and infanticide titled “More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing.”

In China, the ban on more than one child per family “reduced Chinese birthrates to well below the level needed to ensure a stable population,” the Washington Post recently observed. A recent scramble by the regime to turn back the policy has failed to yield higher birthrates, and demographers say China’s population will begin falling within five years — a dramatic reversal for what has long been the world’s largest nation.

It is not our intention here to suggest that abortion rights are the cause of our population crisis. It is merely to suggest that abortion is no boon for any economy. The years of Roe have brought us to a moment when our own Census bureau is  reporting that the country’s population “grew at a slower rate in 2021 than in any other year since the founding of the nation.” It was, at 0.1%, perilously close to zero population growth.

Or even a decline. That should be seen as a warning for anyone worried about the future of our economy. A growing population supplies the workforce America will need to compete in the global economy. And to pay for the social programs, such as Medicare and Social Security, that liberals insist will be needed as baby boomers retire. Any Treasury Secretary worth his — or her — salt knows better. 

The New York Sun

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