Pelosi says capitalism hasn't served US economy 'as well as it should'

Pelosi said public officials should pursue improvements to the system to address inequality

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Friday for public officials to pursue improvements to traditional capitalism, arguing the current U.S. economic system has led to widespread inequality.

"In America, capitalism is our system, it is our economic system, but it has not served our economy as well as it should," Pelosi said during a virtual event with think tank Chatham House. "And so, what we want to do is not depart from that, but to improve it and to make sure that it serves us."

Pelosi decried a gradual shift in recent decades from the concept of "stakeholder capitalism," which allowed wages for both executives and workers to rise based on productivity, to "shareholder capitalism," where executive compensation has outpaced wage growth for workers. 

In June, Pelosi appointed members to the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth. The panel is tasked with recommending potential actions to address wealth inequality.


"You cannot have a system where the success of some springs from the exploitation of the workers and springs from the exploitation of the environment and the rest, and we have to correct that," Pelosi added.

Pelosi spoke amid an ongoing clash between Republicans and Democrats over a $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill, which President Biden has billed as an effort to reshape the U.S. economy. 


Biden and other top Democrats have called for tax hikes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay for the bill. Republicans and some moderate Democrats have opposed the bill, arguing it is too costly and could hurt businesses amid a fragile recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden reiterated his pitch for the spending plan in a speech earlier this week, arguing that measures such as tax reform, enhanced child tax credits and free education were necessary to close the inequality gap exacerbated during the pandemic.

"Billionaires have seen their wealth go up by $1.8 trillion," Biden said. "It’s simply not fair."