Yellen Officially Gets Treasury Nod, Biden Econ Team Manifests Diversity

November 30, 2020 by Dan McCue
Then-U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a news conference on Dec. 13, 2017 in Washington D.C. (Yin Bogu/Xinhua/Zuma Press/TNS)

WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced his senior economic team, confirming after a week of speculation, that he would nominate Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chair, to be the first woman to head the Treasury Department,

In a statement, Biden said he would also nominate former Clinton and Obama adviser Neera Tanden to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, she will be the first woman of color to lead the OMB.

He also named Wally Adeyemo, a former Obama administration official and the first CEO of the former president’s nonprofit foundation, as his nominee for deputy treasury secretary. Like Tanden, Adeyemo, would also be making history, becoming the first Black deputy secretary.

He also unveiled his White House economic team, consisting of economists Cecilia Rouse, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey. Rouse the first woman of color to chair the Council of Economic Advisers.

“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement.

“This team is comprised of respected and tested groundbreaking public servants who will help the communities hardest hit by COVID-19 and address the structural inequities in our economy,” he continued. “They will be ready on day one to get to work for all Americans.”

Yellen became Federal Reserve chair in 2014 when the economy was still recovering from the devastating Great Recession.

In the late 1990s, she was President Bill Clinton’s top economic adviser during the Asian financial crisis. Under Biden she would lead the Treasury Department with the economy in the grip of an ongoing pandemic.

If confirmed, Yellen would become the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in its nearly 232-year history.

She would inherit an economy with still-high unemployment, escalating threats to small businesses and signs that consumers are retrenching as the pandemic restricts or discourages spending.

Tanden, the president and CEO of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, was the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, but she first made her mark as a senior policy adviser in the Bill Clinton administration.

Cecilia Rouse, a labor economist and head of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, is Biden’s pick to serve as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

She served on the CEA from 2009 to 2011, and served on the NEC from 1998 to 1999 in the Clinton administration.

Biden also named Heather Boushey, the president and CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, and Jared Bernstein, who served as an economic adviser to Biden during the Obama administration, to serve on the council.

Both Boushey and Bernstein advised Biden during the presidential campaign.

Of the nominees, it appears that Tanden is getting the most pushback from the left and the right.

On Sunday, Drew Brandewie, communications director for Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, tweeted angrily that Tanden has made “an endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators’ whose votes she’ll need” and said she “stands zero chance of being confirmed.”

Meanwhile Brianna Joy Gray, the former press secretary for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential run, criticized Tanden as “openly disdainful” of the Vermont independent and his coalition.

“It’s almost like they don’t want progressives to support national Democratic candidates going forward,” Gray added.

That prompted Twitter follower Elizabeth Noll to respond: “News Flash: Bernie Sanders is not the center of the universe.”

Among those greeting the nominations warmly Monday was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called the assembled group “a brilliant, visionary economic team” and said Yellen’s “discipline, determination, and dazzling track record of success at the forefront of economic policy-making will be indispensable in our country’s work to not only recover from this crisis, but to Build Back Better.”

“Along with Dr. Yellen,” she said of the other nominees, “their leadership will be critical to delivering urgent and meaningful relief to the American people and building a fairer and more just economy that works for all.”

In addition to today’s announcements, the Associated Press reports that Brian Deese, a former senior economic adviser in the Obama administration and now the managing director and global head of sustainable investing at BlackRock, is expected to be named director of the White House National Economic Council.

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