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Biden economic nominees highlight experience and diversity

US President-elect Joe Biden stands in front of a blue background and US flag with his hands in front of his chest while speaking.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Joe knows the economy needs fixing.
  • Karen Ho
By Karen Ho

Global finance and economics reporter

Published

President-elect Joe Biden has officially announced several people he intends to take senior economic roles in his administration. That’s in addition to Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary.

The group includes past members of the Obama administration, policy experts, Wall Street executives, as well as a controversial leader from a left-leaning think tank.

They highlight the different interests of centrists and progressives within the Democratic party. In addition to expertise, competence, and bipartisan respect from lawmakers, progressives want nominees for these roles to put forth significant policies and proposals to fulfill a key Democratic promise made during the campaign—a stronger and fairer US economy. Here’s a rundown:

Cecilia Rouse, Council of Economic Advisors chair

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Rouse is Biden’s nominee to chair the three-member Council of Economic Advisors (CEA). A labor economist and the dean at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, she was previously confirmed by the US Senate as a CEA member in 2009. If confirmed again, Rouse would become the first African American and the fourth woman to lead the CEA in the 74 years of its existence.

Read a study she wrote

Rouse also co-authored the paper “Diversity in the Economics Profession: A New Attack on an Old Problem” in the Journal of Economic Perspectives.


Jared Bernstein, Council of Economic Advisors member

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Bernstein will be nominated to be a member of the CEA. He served as Biden’s chief economist and as an economic adviser during the Obama Administration.

Bernstein’s experience includes a role as senior economist and director of the Living Standards Program at the non-partisan Economic Policy Institute; deputy chief economist at the Department of Labor under President Clinton and executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class. He is currently a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and is a former social worker. Bernstein completed his PhD in social welfare at Columbia University.

Watch him on air

Berstein is a frequent guest on financial television channels.


Heather Boushey, Council of Economic Advisors member

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The current president, CEO, and co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a non-profit think tank, will be nominated as a member of the CEA.

Rouse, Bernstein and, Boushey will likely focus their advice to policy changes aimed at narrowing racial disparities and economic inequality. That includes labor rules, community college access, and an aggressive stimulus to help the economy recover from the pandemic. The group is seen as being in favor of expanded government spending in areas such as education, infrastructure, and green industry. Boushey and Rouse also co-signed a letter to Congress with former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke in June arguing for more economic relief from the US government.

Read a lot more about her

In August, the New York Times published an interview and profile of Boushey. She told the paper, “countries that have this deep inequality like we do are much more prone to financial crises”.


Neera Tanden, head of Office of Management and Budget 

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Tanden is Biden’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). She is currently the president of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank and the subject of several reports critical of her leadership and accusations of union-busting at its publication, ThinkProgress. If confirmed by the Senate, Tanden would be the first woman and South Asian American to hold the position.

See how she runs the show

At the 2019 CAP Ideas Conference, she moderated a panel called “Creating an All-In Economy.”


Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, deputy secretary of Treasury

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Adeyemo has been named as Biden’s forthcoming nominee for deputy Treasury secretary. He’s considered an expert on macro-economic policy and consumer protection with national security experience. Adeyemo was deputy director of the national economic council, deputy national security advisor, and the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, working with Elizabeth Warren to set up the agency. After the Obama administration he took a job at BlackRock advising the bankers there. He’s currently the president of the Barack Obama Foundation. If confirmed, the Nigerian-born Adeyemo would be the first Black person in the role.

Watch him give a speech

In 2016, he delivered “The G-7 and the Global Economy” to the Peterson Institute for International Economics. It contained the clairvoyant line, “the increasingly interconnected global economy means that economic costs of an epidemic can quickly rise.”


Brian Deese, National Economic Council director

REUTERS/Mandel Ngan

The current global head of sustainable investing at BlackRock, Deese has been chosen to be Biden’s National Economic Council director, according to Axios. Prior to working on Wall Street, he was a member of Obama’s National Economic Council, eventually rising to deputy director. Other roles in the Obama White House included deputy director of the OMB, and senior adviser to the president, with a partial focus on climate change and energy issues. While there he worked on the auto industry bailout and the Paris climate agreement.

Hear him on the pod

In 2017, Deese was a guest on Pod Save America to talk about what exactly was in the Paris climate agreement.

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