President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday introduced key members of his economic team at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, including Janet Yellen, who would be the first woman to serve as Treasury secretary.
“A first-rate team that’s going to get us through this ongoing economic crisis and help us build the economy back, not just build it back, build it back better than it was before,” Biden said. “A team that’s tested and experienced, and includes groundbreaking Americans who come from different backgrounds but who share my core vision for economic relief here in the United States of America.”
Biden stressed the need to help businesses and schools open safely, and deliver immediate economic relief to the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs in the pandemic. The President-elect said his transition team “is already working on what I’ll put forward in the next Congress to address the multiple crises we are facing, especially our economic and Covid crises.”
“The team I am announcing today will play a critical role in shaping our plan for action starting on day one and move fast to revive this economy,” Biden said.
Biden’s transition team on Monday announced several economic nominees who would make history if confirmed by the US Senate. In addition to Yellen, the team includes: Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, who would be the first Black deputy Treasury secretary; Cecilia Rouse, who would be the first woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers; and Neera Tanden, who would be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to become director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Biden also announced his plans to appoint Jared Bernstein, a longtime economic adviser to Biden, and Heather Boushey, one of Biden’s chief economic policy advisers during the campaign, as members of the Council of Economic Advisers. Bernstein and Boushey do not need Senate confirmation.
Here are key lines from the event:
Janet Yellen, nominee for Treasury secretary
“The value of work always stuck with me, so much so that I became an economist because I was concerned about the toll of unemployment on people, families and communities. And I’ve spent my career trying to make sure people can work and achieve the dignity and self-worth that comes with it.”
“The pandemic and economic fallout that together have caused so much damage for so many and have had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable among us. Lost lives, lost jobs, small businesses struggling to stay alive are closed for good. So many people struggling to put food on the table and pay bills and rent. It’s an American tragedy. And it is essential we move with urgency.”
Neera Tanden, nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget
“I am especially proud to work alongside leaders who understand that budgets are not abstractions, they are a reflection of our values. They touch our lives in profound ways and sometimes they make all the difference.”
“I am here today because of social programs, because of budgetary choices, because of a government that saw my mother’s dignity and gave her a chance. Now it is my profound honor to help shape those budgets and programs to keep lifting Americans up, to pull families back from the brink, to give everybody the fair chance my mom got and that every single person deserves.”
Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, nominee for deputy Treasury secretary
“I believe that’s what public service is all about at its best, giving people a fair shot when they need it most, offering hope through the dark times, and making sure that economy works not just for the wealthy but for the hard working people who make it run.”
“I look forward to working with Janet Yellen to reduce inequality in this country and expand the middle class, and make sure we build an economy that works for everyone. And as we build back better, we must also remain laser-focused on the Treasury Department’s critical role of protecting national security. This includes using our sanctions regime to hold bad actors accountable, dismantling financial networks of terrorist organizations and others who seek to do us harm and ensuring foreign investment policy protects America’s national security interest.”
Cecilia Rouse, nominee for chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
“We are once again living through one of the worst job crises since the Great Depression. Millions of families have had their lives turned upside down. The safety net has frayed, leaving vulnerable Americans to slip through into hardship and hopelessness. And importantly, structural inequities that have always existed in the economy are being exacerbated like never before. This is a moment of urgency and opportunity unlike any we’ve faced in modern times. The urgency of ending a devastating crisis and the opportunity to build a better economy in its wake, an economy that works for everyone, brings fulfilling job opportunities and leaves no one to fall through the cracks.”
Jared Bernstein, appointment for Council of Economic Advisers member
“If you intend to be part of the solution, you need to accurately diagnose the problem. In that regard, I think the President and Vice President-elect’s agenda is timely, resonant and visionary. Yes, they’ve stressed the urgent need to control the virus and provide the relief needed to help families and businesses get to the other side of this crisis. But they’ve been just as adamant that simply getting back to where we were sets the bar too low. We must build back an economy that’s far more resilient, far more fair and far more inclusive.”
Heather Boushey, appointment for Council of Economic Advisers member
“The first time I truly experienced this thing called the economy, it was my parents sitting down and explaining that things were going to be tougher for awhile because my dad was on layoff. Too many kids in America experience the economy through those kinds of difficult conversations or far worse. I was struck by the profound power this mysterious force held over my life, my friends and my community. And I wondered if that power couldn’t also be wielded to create happier conversations and fuller lives. I’ve dedicated my career to figuring out how we can grow and sustain the middle class, and uproot the gender barriers and racial barriers that leave too many Americans outside the dream looking in.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris said on Tuesday that “this is the right team for this moment.”
“This is the team we need to deliver immediate economic relief to the American people, to get our economy back on track, and to make sure it works for working people,” Harris said.
“These public servants are some of America’s most brilliant minds,” Harris said. “They are proven leaders whose talents, achievements, and life stories, their life stories reflect the stories of the American people and their stories reflect the very best of our country. And they not only have the experience, the expertise, and what is necessary to help end this economic crisis but also what is necessary to put people back to work.”
Biden has moved quickly to build out his administration and name a diverse group of key White House senior advisers and Cabinet posts. The President-elect has long pledged to shape an administration that looks like and reflects the diversity of the country.
Yellen already made history as the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve. She also previously served for four years as the vice chair of the board, and president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco for four years prior to that. Yellen was also chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 1997 to 1999.
Adeyemo currently serves as the president of the Obama Foundation. He served in many roles during the Obama administration, including the President’s senior international economic adviser, deputy national security adviser, deputy director of the National Economic Council, the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and senior adviser and deputy chief of staff at the Department of the Treasury.
Tanden is the CEO and president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress and the CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Tanden previously served as a senior adviser for health reform at the US Department of Health and Human Services. She was the director of domestic policy for the Obama campaign, and served as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign. The announcement of Tanden sparked more outrage than any nominee has so far, with progressive Democrats and Republicans expressing opposition.
Rouse has served as the dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, as well as a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University. She previously served as a member of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, and also worked at the National Economic Council in the Clinton administration as a special assistant to the president.
Boushey has been one of Biden’s chief economic policy advisers during the campaign and was named as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. Boushey is a longtime economic counselor to Biden and currently serves as president and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a nonprofit she cofounded in 2013.
Bernstein is a longtime economic adviser to Biden and was named as a member of the Council of Economic Advisers. Bernstein previously served as the executive director of the White House task force on the middle class and as an economic adviser to President Barack Obama. He was also the deputy chief economist at the Department of Labor under President Bill Clinton.