KETR

Biden Announces More Historic Picks For His Economics Team

Nov 30, 2020
Originally published on November 30, 2020 11:26 pm
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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

President-elect Joe Biden has officially announced a few other members of his economic team. NPR's Franco Ordoñez had previously confirmed Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary. Labor economist Cecilia Rouse is tapped to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. If confirmed, she would be the first African American to lead the CEA. NPR's Scott Horsley is with us now to talk it through. Good morning.

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what can you tell us about some of these people that he's named?

HORSLEY: Well, this is a team that was sort of telegraphed over the weekend - many of them not really household names, but certainly well known to the kind of wonky economic community in Washington. A lot of them are veterans of the Obama White House. Some also served with Hillary Clinton in her campaigns. They are experienced. They're serious. In a statement - they're diverse, as you mentioned. In a statement, President-elect Biden said, this is a team that looks like America and brings seriousness of purpose to the task of addressing an economy that is, you know, in a deep hole right now and is slowly digging its way out at the same time that they're trying to get control of the pandemic.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Indeed. I mean, it really is an important moment for this country. And looking at this new economic team, I'm wondering about longtime Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein and economist Heather Boushey, who will join the CEA as well. What can you tell us about them?

HORSLEY: Jared Bernstein was Joe Biden's chief economist when he served as vice president early in the Obama administration. He was responsible for sort of sizing up the damage done by the Great Recession, the financial crisis, and helped to shape the response to that, the recovery plan. He's now at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He was previously with the Economic Policy Institute. He's a left-leaning economist. He'll serve on the Council of Economic Advisors.

And Heather Boushey will also be on that council. She currently heads the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which - as the name suggests - is a think tank that works on, you know, building an economy that kind of works for everybody. And then, as you mentioned, Cecilia Rouse has been tapped to lead the Council of Economic Advisors, where she would be the - she had previously served on that council, and she would be the first African American to head the council.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think what will be very cheering to Democrats and certainly supporters of the president-elect is that this is a very diverse group of economic advisers. It's historic.

HORSLEY: It is - a couple of African Americans, a lot of women. Again, not necessarily household names yet out in the country, but well known to the policy community in Washington. So far, the sort of lightning rod that has emerged on the list is Neera Tanden. She was an adviser to Hillary Clinton in the '08 campaign and then was part of the Obama administration. She's been tapped to lead the Office of Management and Budget, which is a somewhat obscure but extremely powerful arm of the White House.

And of these names that have been floated by the incoming administration, she's the one that's sort of drawn the most arrows. Communications director for Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas has already basically taken aim at Neera Tanden and said she'll face the toughest confirmation battle of this group. The rest...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Why?

HORSLEY: ...I think, are likely to have a relatively easy path to confirmation. Not all of these are jobs that require Senate confirmation.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What is - what are the complaints about her, briefly?

HORSLEY: Well, in his tweet, he seemed to take offense at some of the mean things that Tanden had said about Republican senators who will have to vote on her confirmation. She's certainly, you know, someone who's been a longtime policymaker and has had policy differences with Republicans. Whether that goes beyond policy to anything else is hard to say. But, again, she's been kind of the lightning rod of this group. I think the others are mostly sort of solid policy folks who've often worked kind of behind the scenes, and it would be surprising if they attracted the same kind of scrutiny.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's NPR's chief economic correspondent Scott Horsley with the news this morning that President-elect Joe Biden has officially announced the members of his economic team. Thank you very much.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.