Joe Biden set his economic policymaking tone with a focus on reducing income inequalities as he introduced his economic team on Tuesday.
The team was led by his pick for treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, and several others who will be critical to crafting his administration’s response to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Yellen joined Biden and Kamala Harris in Wilmington, Delaware, as did Neera Tanden, who Biden intends to nominate to run the Office of Management and Budget, and Cecilia Rouse, his intended nominee to lead the Council of Economic Advisers.
“Times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way,” Biden said. “Let me be clear with this team, and others we’ll add in weeks ahead, we’re going to create a recovery for everybody.”
“It’s time to invest in infrastructure, clean energy, climate change, manufacturing,” he said. “It’s time we address the structural inequities in our economy, that this crisis has laid bare.”
Also on stage were Adewale Adeyemo, president of the Obama Foundation and a former senior adviser at BlackRock Inc. who will be nominated to be deputy treasury secretary, and two progressive economists to be named to the CEA: Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey.
Biden called on Congress to pass a stimulus package quickly, but said anything done during the lame duck session of Congress would be just the “start.”
All six nominees will need to be confirmed by the Senate, control of which hangs in the balance until Jan. 5, when Georgia holds runoff elections for its two seats.
Republicans have largely responded politely to Biden’s selection of Yellen, who in 2014 was confirmed 56-26 to a four-year term chairing the Federal Reserve board. But they’ve already set their sights on Tanden, who as president of the liberal Center for American Progress hasn’t shied away from fights with Republicans and even some progressives on cable TV and on Twitter.
John Thune, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, criticized Tanden on Tuesday as a “hard-edged partisan” and said her nomination has aroused broad concerns among GOP senators, adding that the Biden team should take the pushback as “a warning signal.”
Biden has also selected Brian Deese, a BlackRock executive who spent eight years as an Obama economic and climate policy aide, to direct the National Economic Council. His appointment to the White House job, which does not require Senate confirmation, will not be formally announced until later in the week, a person familiar with the plan said.
The choices show Biden turning to experienced Washington hands as he begins building his economic team, with an eye toward racial and gender diversity.
If confirmed by the Senate, Biden’s initial economic picks would include multiple firsts. Yellen would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department, Rouse would be the first African American to chair the CEA and Tanden would be the first Indian-American to lead OMB.
Tanden worked on the Obama administration’s health-care policy efforts that culminated in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Rouse also sat on the CEA and is currently dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.
Adeyemo would bring international economic experience to the Biden team, complementing Yellen’s more domestic focus over the course of her academic and government career. He was deputy chief of staff to Jack Lew when he was treasury secretary and was the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Elizabeth Warren.
Bernstein was Biden’s chief economic adviser in the White House during Obama’s first term, and was an outside adviser to his presidential campaign, as was Boushey, who runs the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and has advocated for paid parental leave and raising the minimum wage.
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