By Susana Samhan
Washington, Nov 30 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced his picks for part of his White House economic team, with former Federal Reserve Chairperson Janet Yellen slated to become treasury secretary and, if confirmed by the Senate, the first woman to head that government department in the 231 years of its history.
For the post of deputy treasury secretary, Biden selected Wally Adeyemo, and his economic team will be rounded out by Neera Tanden as head of the Office of Management and Budget; Cecilia Rouse as head of the Council of Economic Advisors; and Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey as members of that council.
As it did last week with Biden’s picks for his top foreign affairs and national security officials, the transition team of the former vice president and of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris announced the officials’ names in a statement, and on Tuesday they will officially present the selections sometime Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, Biden explained in a statement that his priority will be to counteract the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, saying that his economic team will help the communities most affected by Covid-19 and will address structural inequities in the US economy.
“They will work tirelessly to ensure every American enjoys a fair return for their work and an equal chance to get ahead, and that our businesses can thrive and outcompete the rest of the world,” Biden said in prepared remarks.
If confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, Yellen will not only be the first woman to head up the Treasury Department but also the first person to serve in that role and to have also been head of the Council of Economic Advisors and the Federal Reserve.
As treasury secretary, Yellen will be tasked with heading up the incoming administration’s work to ensure economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has left millions of people without work and with the prospect of economic contraction looming at least for the first quarter of 2021.
During her time at the helm of the Fed from 2014-2018, Yellen emphasized, among other things, paying more attention than normal to promoting a strong labor market, as well as keeping inflation in check, stances that brought criticism from Republicans, who felt that the policy was too economically restrictive.
However, the 74-year-old economist plotted the course that the current Fed chief, Jerome Powell, has adhered to and even enhanced.
In her first remarks after being nominated by Biden to head the Treasury Department, Yellen called attention to the challenges facing the country.
“We face great challenges as a country right now,” she said in her first Twitter post after Biden announced he would nominate her. “To recover, we must restore the American dream – a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children.”
Along with Yellen, African American Adeymo, an executive branch veteran and expert on macroeconomic policy and consumer protection, will play a key role in the incoming administration’s economic policy. He also has extensive experience in national security matters.
Tanden would be the first woman of color and first person of South Asian extraction to head the OMB, if confirmed by the Senate. To date, she has been the president and CEO of the liberal Center for American Progress think-tank and was selected by Biden to head an office tasked with creating the administration’s spending and policy plans, designing the White House budget, drafting national policy initiatives and approving the testimony of government officials called to appear before Congress.
Rouse’s selection is another unprecedented pick, given that – again pending Senate confirmation – she could become the first African American to head the Council of Economic Advisors in its 74-year history.
Rouse, 56, is an outstanding labor economist and dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, and in the past she served as a member of the organization Biden has picked her to head.
Meanwhile, Bernstein and Boushey were, respectively, a chief economist for the 2009-2017 Barack Obama administration, during which time Biden was vice president, and cofounder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a non-profit think-tank.
The Council of Economic Advisors consists of three people and provides economic advice to the president. Both Bernstein and Boushey are liberals who believe that the increase in labor market inequalities poses a threat to the economy and the government should make efforts to support workers.
In remarks to The New York Times, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government economist Jason Furman, who served as Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors president, said that Biden’s picks show that he is quadrupling his commitment to workers and pay increases.
The president-elect has picked four of the country’s best labor economists to head the Treasury and to serve on the Council of Economic Advisors, Furman said.