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Joe Biden’s new economic team, including Janet Yellen, revealed

Joe Biden unveiled his economic team on Tuesday, including the first female Treasury secretary and a lightening rod budget expert that has conservatives and liberals up in arms.

The president-elect also was seen for the first time wearing a medical boot on his right foot after he fractured it this weekend playing with his German Shepard Major.

The minor limp didn’t stop Biden from introducing his team to help the American economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. But it did require a tweak in the format to the event – instead of standing the entire time like he did last week when he introduced his national security team, Biden sat at a table while his economic choices spoke.

His remarks and focus, however, was on reassuring the American people that help was coming as many who lost their jobs at the start of the pandemic are seeing their additional unemployment benefits run out. 

‘I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way,’ Biden said in opening his remarks. 

Joe Biden unveiled his economic team at an event in Wilmington where it was also the first time he was seen wearing a medical boot after fracturing his foot playing with his dog

Janet Yellen, who would be the first female Treasury secretary

Neera Tanden, his choice to lead the budget office who has liberals and conservatives up in arms

Biden named his economic team, including Janet Yellen, who would be the first female Treasury secretary, and Neera Tanden, his choice to lead the budget office who has liberals and conservatives up in arms

Biden’s economic bench includes Janet Yellen, who would be the first female Treasury secretary, and Neera Tanden, his choice to lead the budget office who has liberals and conservatives up in arms.  

He also named Wally Adeyemo, an African American, as Yellen’s deputy. Adeyemo had been a deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama, then was the president of the Obama Foundation. 

Biden named Wally Adeyemo as deputy treasury secretary

Biden named Wally Adeyemo as deputy treasury secretary

Biden also selected Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. 

She was a member of the council under Obama from 2009 to 2011 and would be the first African American to chair the group. 

Biden also said he plans to return that position to Cabinet level as it was under Obama. 

Heather Boushey, an economist focused on economic inequality and the president, chief executive and co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, will serve on the council. 

Cecilia Rouse would be the first black chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

Cecilia Rouse would be the first black chair of the Council of Economic Advisers

Biden described the group as a ‘first-rate team that will get us through the on-going economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than before.’

He noted they fit his pledge to build a diverse group of advisers and said they shared his vision ‘that given a fair shot and equal chance, there’s nothing beyond the capacity of the American people.’  

Biden named Heather Boushey, an economist focused on economic inequality, to the economic council

Biden named Heather Boushey, an economist focused on economic inequality, to the economic council

In his remarks, the president-elect also said Congress should provide ‘immediate relief’ to the pandemic-stricken economy, echoing the message being given by Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.

He called for additional unemployment funds, help with rent and healthcare expenses, and additional funding for states and cities.

And he specifically called on additional money for law enforcement. During the presidential campaign. President Donald Trump charged him with wanting to defund the police, which Biden had never said.

‘We must keep vital public services running — law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators — as we did with the Recovery Act in 2009,’ Biden said on Tuesday.

And he called on Congress to act.

BIDEN’S ECONOMIC TEAM

JANET YELLEN – Treasury Secretary

Would be first female Treasury-secretary, chaired the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2017

WALLY ADEYEMO – Deputy Treasury Secretary 

Nigerian-born Yale law grad  and Obama Treasury official. Currently president of the Obama Foundation

NEERA TANDEN – Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Veteran Clinton aide who is close personal friend of Hillary. Runs Center for American Progress, voice of Democratic liberal wing although also a sworn enemy of Bernie Sanders 

CECELIA ROUSE – Chair of Council of Economic Advisors

Dean of Princeton School of Public and International Affairs – which had Woodrow Wilson removed from its name this year – and former Obama economic aide. Daughter-in-law of the late Toni Morrison  

HEATHER BOUSHEY – Member of the Council of Economic Advisors 

Economist who is CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a Democratic-linked think tank. See as part of progressive party wing and has worked with Tanden

JARED BERNSTEIN –  Member of the Council of Economic Advisors

 Prominent progressive economist who has taught at Howard, Columbia and NYU. Was critical of Obama’s trade policy

‘Right now, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package of relief that addresses these urgent needs,’ he said. 

But talks on another coronavirus relief measure have been stalled on Capitol Hill for weeks. 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who is leading negotiations for the Trump administration, spoke Tuesday for the first time since October 26.

‘Additional COVID relief is long overdue and must be passed in this lame duck session,’ Pelosi said in a statement afterward. 

Meanwhile, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said any COVID relief package would have to be tied to a government funding proposal – the federal budget runs out at midnight on Friday, December 11 – and he said that form would likely come in an omnibus.

‘It will all likely come in one package,’ he said. 

Biden will take the presidency as the country battles a deadly pandemic and the economy struggles to recover from having to shutter during the rising rate of infection.

The president-elect shared his confidence in his economic team. The message from both himself and his nominees were focused on the personal side of the economy and the hardships people are facing. 

Yellen would also be the first Treasury Secretary who was also Chair of the Federal Reserve, Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, and Chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. 

Her husband, George Akerlof, won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001. 

‘Her husband, George, is pretty good too. He is a Nobel Prize recipient, but he’s the one who married up,’ Biden joked in his opening.

He also joked the writer of the musical ‘Hamilton,’ about the first Treasury secretary Alexander Hamilton, should look to Yellen for his next project.

‘Janet will be the first woman to hold this office. We might have to ask Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote a musical about the first Treasury Secretary, Hamilton, to write another musical for the first woman Treasury Secretary, Yellen,’ he said. 

Joe Biden joked that  Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote a musical about the first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton may have to write another musical for the first woman Treasury Secretary

Joe Biden joked that  Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote a musical about the first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton may have to write another musical for the first woman Treasury Secretary

Senators on both sides of the aisle spoke well of Yellen after Biden formally announced his intention to appoint her. She is expected to be confirmed for the job. 

Yellen said she learned the value of work from her father. 

‘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,’ she said in her remarks. 

But it’s Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, who is likely to draw strong opposition in the Senate, whether or not Republicans maintain control of the chamber.

Both liberals and conservatives found fault with her and were quick to voice it. 

Biden focused on Tanden’s personal story when he introduced her. 

‘She was raised by a single mom on food stamps, an immigrant from India who struggled, worked hard, and did everything she could for her daughter to live out her American dream,’ he said.

He made no mention of the controversy around her. 

Nor did Tanden when she spoke but, instead, kept her remarks focused on her economic values and her life story.

‘I’m 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. Sometimes, they make all the difference,’ she said. 

Tanden recalled how her mother Maya divorced her father and was left alone to raise her and her sister.

‘She faced a choice — return to India, where at the time divorce was stigmatized and opportunity would be limited — or keep fighting for her American Dream,’ Tanden said. 

‘She stayed, and America came through for her when times were tough. We relied on food stamps to eat. We relied on Section 8 vouchers to pay the rent. We relied on the social safety net to get back on our feet. This country gave her a fair shot to reach for the middle class and she made it work,’ she noted.

Neera Tanden, Biden's pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, who is likely to draw strong opposition in the Senate

Neera Tanden, Biden’s pick to run the Office of Management and Budget, who is likely to draw strong opposition in the Senate

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event to name his economic team

President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event to name his economic team

Joe Biden also showed his medical boot for the first time after fracturing his foot playing with his dog

Joe Biden also showed his medical boot for the first time after fracturing his foot playing with his dog

But Republicans and liberals have signaled their dislike for Biden’s choice – some of it stemming back to the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham called Tanden a ‘nut job’ and expressed doubt she’d be able to get a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.

‘If we win both seats in Georgia, I’ll be the budget chairman,’ Graham said Monday night to Fox News’ Sean Hannity. ‘The OMB director has to come before the budget committee for hearings to be confirmed. I think I would ask different questions than Bernie Sanders, who would be the budget chairman if Democrats win in Georgia.’

He said he wants to ‘make sure this nut job Tanden doesn’t become the director of the budget, in charge of the Office of Management and Budget.’ 

OMB is the power agency that runs the federal budget. 

But Tanden has also tangled with the Democratic Party’s progressive left, in particular those loyal to Sanders, who challenged Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020.

Tanden is a longtime Clinton ally and head of the liberal Center for American Progress.

‘Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden,’ tweeted former Sanders campaign press secretary Brianna Joy Gray. 

In another tweet, she wrote: ‘To foster unity, Biden taps Republicans and Neera Tanden, a woman who is openly disdainful of Bernie Sanders and his coalition, but who is friendly with extreme bigots online,’ she tweeted.  

 




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