By Ken Thomas and Kate Davidson
WASHINGTON -- President-elect Joe Biden intends to nominate a
team of liberal and centrist economic advisers to serve alongside
planned Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen, people familiar
with his plans said Sunday, as he prepares to confront the economic
fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Biden has chosen Neera Tanden, head of the Center for
American Progress, a center-left think tank, to serve as director
of the Office of Management and Budget. The former vice president
has picked Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton University labor economist,
to be chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers, these people
The president-elect has selected Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo, a
former senior international economic adviser during the Obama
administration, to serve as Ms. Yellen's top deputy at the Treasury
Department. And he will turn to two campaign economic advisers,
Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, to serve as members of the CEA
alongside Ms. Rouse, the people said.
Mr. Biden's selections include outspoken advocates for
aggressive fiscal stimulus to help return the economy quickly to
its pre-pandemic health, a cause that could run into resistance in
a closely divided Congress. The advisers are also known for
advocating expanded government spending they say would boost the
economy's long-term potential, in areas that are liberal priorities
such as education, infrastructure and the green economy, and policy
changes aimed at narrowing racial disparities in the economy.
Several of the choices, including Ms. Rouse, Mr. Bernstein and
Mr. Adeyemo, are former Obama administration officials who played
key roles in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Some members of the economic team are likely to please party
progressives. All three members of the CEA are known for their work
giving greater prominence in policy debates to inequality. But
others may draw some criticism from the left. Ms. Tanden has
publicly tangled with allies of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Mr.
Adeyemo has worked at BlackRock Inc., the world's largest asset
manager, a potential red flag for some progressives opposed to any
nominees with ties to Wall Street.
Many members of the new team have played down concerns about
budget deficits, which have reached record levels over the past
year, arguing that now isn't the time for policy makers to worry
about rising deficits and debt, and that the risks of doing too
little to support the economy are far greater than the risks of
borrowing and spending too much. That marks a shift within the
Democratic Party from Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who
both focused on deficit reduction.
Mr. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are expected to
introduce his key economic picks Tuesday in Wilmington, Del., as
his incoming administration faces a challenging economic outlook
with millions of Americans still seeking work and signs that job
growth may be slowing heading into the winter.
One member of Mr. Biden's economic team isn't expected to be
announced Tuesday: the head of his National Economic Council. He is
considering Brian Deese, a former senior Obama administration
official and a BlackRock executive, one of the people familiar with
the discussions said. Another candidate is Roger Ferguson, chief
executive of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of
America, the person said. Mr. Ferguson is a former vice chairman of
the Federal Reserve and one of the nation's most prominent Black
Mr. Biden on Sunday announced his White House senior
communications team, an all-female, seven-member group that
includes Jen Psaki, a former Obama White House communications
director, as his incoming White House press secretary; Kate
Bedingfield as his communications director; and Symone Sanders as
senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Ms. Harris.
Mr. Biden's economic team will face difficult decisions on how
much the federal government should borrow and spend as the Covid-19
pandemic hangs over the economy. Growth has recovered faster than
many economists expected, after widespread shutdowns aimed at
slowing the spread of the virus triggered millions of layoffs and
plunged the economy into a recession. There are recent signs,
however, that momentum is slowing as new virus cases surge and job
growth slows, and much of the aid lawmakers passed earlier this
year has run out. JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists said in
November that they expect the economy to shrink in the first
quarter of 2021.
Mr. Biden campaigned on a platform that centered around raising
taxes on corporations, capital gains and households earning more
than $400,000, but he will face stiff opposition from Republicans
who could win a narrow Senate majority if they prevail in at least
one of two runoff elections in Georgia in January.
Just as he did with his foreign-policy announcements, Mr. Biden
appears to be planning to package his economic team as much for
their gender and racial diversity and their personal stories as on
their economic record. The former vice president frequently speaks
about the economy through stories of his upbringing and his
father's financial struggles.
Ms. Yellen, who was named by President Obama as the first woman
to chair the Fed, would be the first woman to lead the Treasury
Department. Mr. Adeyemo, who as a child emigrated to the U.S. from
Nigeria with his family, would be the department's first Black
deputy secretary. Ms. Rouse would be the first woman of color to
chair the council, while Ms. Tanden would be the first woman of
color and the first South Asian woman to oversee OMB.
Mr. Biden said earlier in November that his choice for Treasury
secretary would be broadly supported by the liberal and moderate
wings of the Democratic Party. Ms. Yellen has been praised by
liberals such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and she won
Senate confirmation as Fed chair in 2014 with the help of nearly a
Some of Mr. Biden's choices could face scrutiny from Republicans
as well as liberals within his party who have warned that
"personnel is policy" and have criticized the potential for
revolving-door moves between industry and government.
Mr. Adeyemo, who has served since 2019 as president of the
foundation of former President Obama, worked as a senior adviser
for BlackRock from 2017 to 2019, including as interim chief of
staff to Larry Fink, the company's chief executive and
Ms. Tanden is a former adviser to Hillary Clinton, who won the
2016 Democratic presidential nomination after a bitter contest with
Mr. Sanders. During Mr. Obama's administration, Ms. Tanden was one
of the architects of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans
have repeatedly sought to repeal.
Some Republicans said Ms. Tanden would struggle to win Senate
support. Josh Holmes, an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell (R., Ky.), referred to her nomination on Twitter as a
"sacrifice to the confirmation gods." Drew Brandewie,
communications director for Sen. John Cornyn (R., Texas), tweeted
that she "stands zero chance of being confirmed."
Ms. Rouse, who is well-known for her work on the economics of
education, served as a CEA member during the first two years of the
Obama administration, helping develop policies to encourage
employers to boost hiring and arguing for more fiscal stimulus to
aid the recovery following the 2007-09 recession. She also served
on the National Economic Council during the Clinton
Ms. Rouse has written on the benefits of attending community
college, and argued that the use of school vouchers doesn't greatly
improve student achievement. She is also known for a 1997 paper on
discrimination, in which she and her co-author, Harvard economist
Claudia Goldin, found that female musicians were several times more
likely to be hired by an orchestra when the auditions were "blind,"
and musicians performed behind a curtain.
Ms. Boushey and Mr. Bernstein were among a group of rotating
advisers who participated in daily economic briefings for Mr. Biden
as the coronavirus pandemic unfolded earlier this year.
Ms. Boushey is the president and CEO of the Washington Center
for Equitable Growth, a nonprofit research organization she
co-founded in 2013 to give greater prominence in economics to the
links between inequality and growth. She served as the chief
economist for Mrs. Clinton's 2016 presidential transition team.
Ms. Boushey has called on Congress to tie additional pandemic
relief to economic conditions such as the unemployment rate,
linking aid directly to government data and insulating it from
lawmaker discretion, a proposal designed to ensure that programs
such as enhanced jobless benefits would remain available until the
economy improves. She also has warned that failure to address
longstanding inequality could lead to a slower, uneven economic
She has written about the effect of children on women's
labor-force participation, and how policy makers and businesses can
better support workers with caregiver responsibilities, and in turn
promote economic growth.
Mr. Bernstein, who served as chief economist to Mr. Biden when
he was vice president, has been a senior fellow at the left-leaning
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities since 2011.
He has been an advocate for more federal spending to combat the
coronavirus, arguing that low interest rates and inflation mean the
government has plenty of capacity to borrow to fight the pandemic
and stimulate the economy. He has warned that pulling back spending
too soon to curb deficits would be a mistake, and could lead to a
slow, lackluster recovery similar to the years following the last
Mr. Bernstein was a key architect of the Obama administration's
roughly $800 billion package enacted in the first few months of
2009 to stimulate the economy in the wake of the financial
As protests flared up over the summer on racial inequality, Mr.
Bernstein co-wrote a paper urging the Federal Reserve to expand its
focus and look beyond the overall labor market to target the Black
unemployment rate specifically. Mr. Biden's campaign later endorsed
During the Obama administration, Mr. Bernstein served as the
executive director of the White House task force on the middle
class. Before joining the administration, he was a senior economist
at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, where he studied income
inequality and low-wage labor markets. He served as the deputy
chief economist at the Labor Department from 1995 to 1996.
Mr. Adeyemo worked during the Obama administration as the
Treasury's lead negotiator on the currency agreement that was part
of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, and on the response to
sovereign-debt crises in Ukraine and Greece. In 2010, he was one of
the first officials charged with setting up the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, where he served under Ms. Warren, a connection
likely to help him win over party progressives.
Mr. Obama later tapped him to serve as his deputy national
security adviser for international economic affairs.
"He knows the building inside and out, knows all the different
policy areas Treasury does, which are wide and extensive," said
Ernie Tedeschi, a former Obama Treasury economist and policy
analyst at Evercore ISI. "Between economics and finance and
markets, Wally is familiar with them all."
Write to Ken Thomas at email@example.com and Kate Davidson at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 29, 2020 21:51 ET (02:51 GMT)
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