President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday presented top advisers who he says will help his administration rebuild an economy plagued by the coronavirus pandemic, explaining: “I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way.”
Biden said he had chosen a “first-class team” that is “tested and experienced” to deal with the country’s economic crisis. He elected liberal advisers who have long prioritized the country’s workers and the government’s efforts to tackle economic inequality.
Unemployment is still high as the COVID-19 outbreak widens the gap between the average person and the richest Americans. The virus, which has claimed more than 269,000 lives nationwide, reappears across the country during holiday trips and colder weather that sends people indoors.
As he often did during the campaign, Biden promised that the United States would eventually emerge with an economy that was dramatically reshaped to better eradicate economic inequality.
“From the most unequal economic crisis and job crisis in modern history, we can build a new American economy that works for all Americans, not just some,” Biden said as he introduced his choices for some of the government’s best economic services in a speech at a theater in Wilmington, Delaware, where he has led his transition to the presidency.
Tuesday also marked the president-elect’s first appearance since hitting two small legs in the right foot while playing with one of his dogs over the weekend. He wore a black walking boot and moved gingerly but tried to keep things light. When he got out of his motorcade, Biden pointed to his trunk and lifted his leg briefly to show it off.
When asked about his foot by journalists, Biden simply replied, “Good, thank you for asking.”
Women got top roles in the Biden economic team
The damage, although not serious, intensifies the scrutiny of Biden’s age, given that he has just turned 78 and is the oldest president ever in his first term. Nevertheless, his team has tried to stay focused on expanding its government and future political challenges, including the pandemic and the economy.
Biden repeatedly evoked his work as vice president when the Obama administration oversaw the economic recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, noting that many of those in his newly formed economic team worked closely with him at the time.
Most of his election demands confirmation from the deeply divided Senate, where some top Republicans have already begun to express opposition. Biden said he hopes “that we will be able to work across the aisle in good faith, move forward as a country.”
Janet Yellen, Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, when she placed greater emphasis than former Fed chairmen on maximizing employment and less focus on price inflation. Biden also appointed Cecilia Rouse as chair of her Financial Advisers’ Council and Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein as members of the council.
Yellen called the economic devastation that the pandemic has created “an American tragedy.”
“To the American people: We will be an institution that wakes up every morning thinking of you,” Yellen said of the Treasury Department, “Your jobs, your paychecks, your struggles, your hopes, your dignity and your unlimited potential.”
If the Senate confirms it, Yellen would be the first woman to serve as secretary of state after breaking ground as the first woman to chair the Fed.
“We may need to ask Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote a musical about the first secretary of the Treasury, Hamilton, to write another musical about the female secretary of the treasury,” Biden joked.
Rouse would be the first black woman to lead the CEA in her 74 years of existence. The president-elect also elected Wally Adeyemo as Yellen’s deputy, making him the first black deputy secretary of state. Neera Tanden, Biden’s choice to head the Office of Management and Budget, would be the first South Asian American in that job.
Rouse, Tanden and Adeyemo will all have to confirm the Senate, and Tanden in particular is already drawing heavy Republican criticism.
“Budgets are not abstractions. They are a reflection of our values, Tanden said during Tuesday’s event.
All of Biden’s choices are outspoken supporters of more government stimulus spending to boost growth – as Biden adopted on the campaign track – although their proposals may face a difficult reception in Congress, which has stalled on a new round of economic relief for months.
The prospects for a large-scale deal may depend on the outcome of run-off elections for both Georgia senate seats. Victory in both would give Democrats control of the House – and its agenda – by the thinnest margin, but Republican victories will quickly test Biden and his team’s ability to negotiate across the aisle to deliver their promised relief to Americans.
As he has done in recent weeks, Biden has repeatedly urged Congress to send immediate funding for pandemic assistance even before he takes office.
“Right now, the whole Congress should come together and send a robust package for relief,” he said. But Biden added that all the packages that were passed during the lame-duck session before the end of the year “probably at best are just a start” and said that his transition team “is already working on what I will present at the next congress to deal with the more crises we face. ”
Meanwhile, gloomy economic news continues. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Monday that the pace of economic improvement has moderated in recent months with prospects remaining “extremely uncertain.”
And Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump’s finance minister, announced last month that he would not grant extensions to five lending programs run jointly by the Fed and the Treasury, which are scheduled to expire on December 31. – including backstops for corporate and municipal debt and the purchase of loans to small businesses and non-profit organizations.