Biden taps Yellen to lead barrier-breaking economic team

Published December 1, 2020
Presi­dent-elect Joe Biden on Monday formally picked ex-Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen (pictured) to lead the Treasury. — Reuters/File
Presi­dent-elect Joe Biden on Monday formally picked ex-Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen (pictured) to lead the Treasury. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: Presi­dent-elect Joe Biden on Monday formally picked ex-Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen to lead the Treasury, one of a slate of economic officials who would break racial and gender barriers in the US government.

The announcement of Biden’s economic team comes after running mate Kamala Harris made history as the first woman and first person of both African American and South Asian descent to win the vice presidency.

If they win Senate approval, Yellen would be the first female Treasury secretary, and be joined in the executive branch by the first African Americans to serve as her deputy and as head of the White House economic council, as well as the first South Asian in a key budget role.

“We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream — a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children,” Yellen tweeted following the announcement.

“As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.” Job number one for the 74-year-old, who previously made history as the first female Federal Reserve chief from 2014 to 2018, will be helping the US economy recover from the sharp downturn in growth and mass layoffs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unless lawmakers are able to overcome their differences in the closing weeks of the year, she will likely be tasked with convincing Democrats and Republicans in Congress to pass another spending bill to aid the recovery amid a months-long deadlock on new aid.

“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement announcing his appointments.

He has stressed that he would strive for diversity while choosing staff for when he takes office in January.Yellen’s nomination was first reported last week, and Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris will formally unveil the nominees on Tuesday.

Many of those tapped to serve on Biden’s economic team include former officials of Barack Obama admi­nistration, under whom Biden served as vice president.

Nigerian-born Wally Adeyemo, a former deputy national security advisor and current president of the Obama Foundation non-profit, will serve as deputy Treasury secretary. He would be the first African American in that role.

Neera Tanden, president of liberal think tank Center for American Progress, was tapped as head the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, she would be its first South Asian leader.

Also named was Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs Cecilia Rouse as chair of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), the first African American in that post.

Jared Bernstein, who previously advised Biden when he was vice president under Obama, will join the CEA, as will Washington Center for Equitable Growth Presi­dent Heather Boushey.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2020

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