President-Elect Joe Biden introduced his economic team on Tuesday, December 1, at a ceremony in Wilmington, Delaware. Their personal stories are significant, and such a contrast to the grafters, foreclosure millionaires, and partisans of the Trump Administration working on behalf of donors and special interests instead of the American people. Biden’s team, besides having extraordinary expertise and experience, also bring the life-lessons and background to infuse a budget and economic policies with values. The ultimate goal: to revitalize the economy in such a way as to redress systemic inequalities, environmental unsustainability, summed up in the phrase, “Build Back Better.” There is the recognition, too, that addressing the epidemic of poverty, hunger and evictions is tied to addressing and eradicating the coronavirus pandemic and overall health care and public health. Here are remarks, highlighted:
I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving even if it was far from tradition and apart from the ones we love.
I know times are tough, but I want you to know that help is on the way.
Last week, I announced nominations and staff for critical foreign policy and national security positions. A first-rate team that will keep us safe and secure.
Today, I am pleased to announce key nominations and appointments for critical economic positions in the Administration. A first-rate team that will get us through the on-going economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than before.
This team is tested and experienced.
It includes groundbreaking Americans who come from different backgrounds, but share my core economic vision.
That given a fair shot and equal chance, there’s nothing beyond the capacity
of the American people.
Let’s not forget that the middle class built this country and unions built the middle class.
And from the most unequal economic and jobs crisis in modern history, we can build a new American economy that works for all Americans.
But we need to act now. And we have to work together.
In the weeks since winning the election, Vice President-elect Harris and I have convened meetings with labor leaders and CEOs and Mayors and Governors of both parties.
There is consensus that, as we battle COVID-19, we have to make sure that businesses and workers have the tools, resources, guidance, and health and safety standards to operate safely.
Our goal is simple: to keep businesses and schools open safely.
For the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs — or hours — and have had to claim unemployment, we have to deliver them immediate relief.
This includes affordable health care for millions of people who have lost it or are in danger of losing it.
Child care, sick leave, family leave, so workers don’t have to choose between work and family.
Relief from rent and student loans.
We need to support small businesses and entrepreneurs that form the backbone of our communities but are teetering on the edge.
There’s an urgent need to fund states and cities, so they can keep frontline workers on the job.
We must keep vital public services running — law enforcement officers, firefighters, educators — as we did with the Recovery Act in 2009.
Right now, the full Congress should come together and pass a robust package of relief that addresses these urgent needs.
But any package passed in the lame duck session is likely to be — at best — just the start.
My transition team is already working on what I will put forward for the next Congress to address the multiple crises we are facing — especially our economic and COVID crises.
And the team I’m announcing today will play a critical role in shaping our plan for action — starting on Day One — to move fast and revive the economy.
They will help lay out my Build Back Better plan; a plan that an independent analysis by Moody’s — a well-respected Wall Street firm — projects will create 18.6 million jobs.
It’s based on a simple premise: reward hard work in America — not wealth.
It’s time we invest in infrastructure, clean energy and climate change, manufacturing, and so much more that will create millions of good paying American jobs.
And it’s time we address the structural inequalities in our economy that the pandemic has laid bare.
Economists call the current recovery “K-shaped.”
Like the two lines coming out of a K, some people are seeing their prospects soar up while most others are watching their economic well-being drop sharply.
For those at the top, jobs have come back and their wealth is rising.
For example, luxury home sales are up over 40 percent compared to last year.
But for those in the middle and the bottom, it’s a downward slide. They’re left figuring out how to pay bills and put food on the table.
Almost one in every six renters was behind on rent payments as of late October.
Let me be clear, with this team and the others who we will add in the weeks ahead, we will create a recovery for all and get this economy moving again.
We will create jobs, raise incomes, reduce drug prices, advance racial equity across the economy, and restore the backbone of this country — the middle class.
Our message to everyone struggling right now is this — help is on the way.
After my Dad lost his job in Scranton, Pennsylvania -and eventually moved the family not far from here in Claymont, Delaware, he’d say, “Joey, a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. Respect. Your place in the community. It’s about being able to look your kid in the eye and say that everything will be okay.”
He also used to say, “Joey, I don’t expect the government to solve my problems. But I expect it to understand my problems.”
This team understands.
For Secretary of the Treasury, I nominate Janet Yellen.
No one is better prepared for this crisis.
She will 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.
Janet is one of the most important economic thinkers of our time.
She has spent her career focused on employment and the dignity of work. She understands what a job means to people and their communities.
Respected across party lines and around the world, by Main Street and Wall Street. An educator, a mentor.
Above all — the daughter of a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood who never forgot where she came from.
Her husband, George, is pretty good too. He is a Nobel Prize recipient, but he’s the one who married up.
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.
For Director of the Office and Management and Budget, I nominate Neera Tanden.
I’ve known Neera for a long time. A brilliant policy mind with critical practical experience across government.
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.
And Neera did just that.
She understands the struggles that millions of Americans are facing.
And she will be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to lead the OMB.
She will be in charge of laying out my budget that will help us control the virus, deal with the economic crisis, and build back better.
But above all, she believes what I believe — a budget should reflect our values.
For Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, I nominate Wally Adeyemo.
A skilled leader and thinker on issues ranging from macroeconomics to consumer protection, and from national security to international affairs.
I worked with Wally during the Great Recession, and I saw him tackle one big job after another.
Deputy National Security Advisor to President Obama. Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Former Chief of Staff to Elizabeth Warren, where he helped create the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau.
It’s designed to protect consumers and working people from unfair, deceptive, and abusive financial practices.
And now, Wally will be the first African American ever to hold this post, and the highest-ranking African American in Treasury Department history.
An immigrant from Nigeria, a son of a nurse and an elementary school principal, Wally understands everything we do is for the people.
To understand their struggles, and most of all, their dreams.
For Chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisors, I nominate Cecilia “CC” Rouse, one of the most distinguished economists in the country.
An expert on labor economics, race, poverty, and education.
Dean of Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs. Member of the Council of Economic Advisors to President Obama. Advisor to President Clinton at the National Economic Council.
More than that, she’s a proud daughter, whose mom — a school psychologist — encouraged her to pursue economics, whose dad — one of the country’s first African American astrophysicists — who dared her to dream.
If confirmed, CC will be just the fourth woman to lead the Council of Economic Advisors and the first African-American ever to hold the post.
And as CEA Chair, she will serve as a member of my Cabinet.
As a member of the Council of Economic Advisors, I appoint Jared Bernstein.
A brilliant thinker with a quick wit — and a big heart he got from his mom — an educator — who raised him right.
A social worker turned economist, Jared is one of my closest economic advisors.
He served as my Chief Economist during my Vice Presidency.
He was there in the foxhole during the Great Recession with the economy on the brink and our country on its back.
I couldn’t think of anyone else who I would want by my side to face the challenges ahead.
Jared will be one of the leading voices of my Administration on economic policy.
I can always count on him to deliver it straight from the shoulder as his hero FDR said.
One thing I can assure you is working people will always have a voice with Jared on the Council.
As a member of the Council of Economic Advisors, I appoint Heather Boushey.
She is one of the foremost economists working to make sure we build an economy that works for all Americans.
A daughter of a union family — it’s no wonder she believes so deeply in the idea: leave no one out, leave no one behind.
During the campaign, I relied on her counsel on addressing the structural inequalities in our economy.
I’ll do so again as President because it is a central issue of our time.
To this team — thank you for accepting the call to serve.
To your families — thank you for your sacrifice. We could not do this without you.
And to the American people, this team will always be there for you and your families.
Eleven years ago President Obama and I entered office during the Great Recession and implemented the Recovery Act that saved us from a Great Depression.
We didn’t see the map of America in terms of blue states and red states. We only saw the United States of America.
We worked with everyone — for everyone.
And we recovered and rebuilt — together — as one nation.
Vice President-elect Harris and I will do it again with this outstanding team.
They are ready on Day One.
To the United States Senate — I hope these outstanding nominees will receive a prompt hearing, and that we will be able to work across the aisle in good faith and move forward as one country.
Let us begin the work to heal, unite, and rebuild an economy for all Americans.
They deserve and expect nothing less.
May God bless you.
May God protect our troops.
I’ll now turn it over to the new team, starting with our next Secretary of the Treasury — Janet Yellen.
Nominee for Secretary of Treasury, Janet Yellen
Thank you, Mr. President-elect and Madame Vice President-elect.
It is my great honor to have this opportunity to serve you and the American people, and to join this incredible economic team at this moment of great challenge for our country.
Mr. President-elect, when you reflect on what your father taught you about how a job is much more than a paycheck, I hear my own father, who raised our family in working-class Brooklyn.
When he graduated from medical school during the Great Depression, he looked for a home and a place to hang his shingle near the Brooklyn docks. Back then, Bush Terminal on the Upper New York Bay was a thriving hub for manufacturing and transportation — and for the union workers whose livelihoods depended on them.
Knowing they didn’t have cars, my father found a home near a bus line. He started his family practice in the basement while we lived on the floors above. At the end of the day, he would talk to me, my brother, and my mom about what work meant to his patients — our friends and neighbors — especially if they lost a job. The financial problems. The family problems. The health problems. The loss of dignity and self-worth.
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.
Mr. President-elect, I know you’ve done the same. I saw that understanding during the last Great Recession and the Recovery Act that followed.
And now we are facing historic crises again. The pandemic and economic fallout that, together, have caused so much damage for so many and have had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable among us. Lost lives. Lost jobs. Small businesses struggling to stay alive or closed for good. So many people struggling to put food on the table and pay bills and rent.
It’s an American tragedy. And it’s essential that we move with urgency. Inaction will produce a self-reinforcing downturn causing yet more devastation.
And we risk missing the obligation to address deeper structural problems:
Inequality. Stagnant wages, especially for workers who lack a college education. Communities that have seen industry disappear, with no good jobs replacing lost ones. Racial disparities in pay, job opportunities, housing, food security, and small business lending that deny wealth building to so many communities of color. Gender disparities that keep women out of the workforce and keep our economy from running at full force.
It is a convergence of tragedies that is not only economically unsustainable, but one that betrays our commitment to giving every American an equal chance to get ahead.
But I know this team will never give up that commitment. As you have said before, Mr. President-elect, out of our collective pain as a nation, we will find a collective purpose to control the pandemic, and build our economy back better than before.
To rebuild our infrastructure and create better jobs. To invest in our workforce. To advance racial equity and make sure the economic recovery includes everyone. To address the climate crisis with American ingenuity and American jobs.
Working together with the outstanding national security and foreign policy team you announced last week, to help restore America’s global leadership.
And above all, we share your belief in the American dream — of a society where each person, with effort, can rise to their potential, and dream even bigger for their children.
I pledge, as Treasury Secretary, to work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all Americans.
And to the great public servants of the Treasury Department, I look forward to working with you and Wally to rebuild the public trust.
To the American people, we will be an institution that wakes up every morning thinking about you.
Your jobs, your paychecks. Your struggles, your hopes. Your dignity.
Nominee for OMB Director, Neera Tanden
Mr. President-elect, Madame Vice President-elect — I’m humbled and honored by the trust you’ve placed in me to work with this talented team on behalf of the American people.
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.
Like the Vice President-elect’s mother, Shyamala, my mother, Maya, was born in India.
Like so many millions, across every generation, she came to America to pursue a better life.
I was raised in a suburb of Boston — a middle-class kid.
But when I was five, my parents got divorced and my mom was left on her own with two children — and without a job.
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.
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 got a job as a travel agent, and before long, she was able to buy us our own home in Bedford, Massachusetts, and see her children off to college, and beyond.
I’m here today thanks to my mother’s grit, but also thanks to a country that had faith in us, that invested in her humanity, and in our dreams.
I’m here today because of social programs. Because of budgetary choices.
Because of a government that saw my mother’s dignity, and gave her a chance.
Now, it’s my honor to help shape those budgets and programs to keep lifting Americans up, to pull families back from the brink. To give everybody the fair chance my mother got, and that everyone deserves.
That’s the America Maya and Shyamala were drawn to — the America the President-elect and Vice President-elect are ready to grow.
I believe so strongly that our government is meant to serve all the American people — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike, all of whom deserve to know that their government has their back.
I look forward to working together alongside the dedicated career professionals at OMB to expand those possibilities for every American family.
And I want to thank my own wonderful family — my husband, Ben, without whose love and support I would simply not be here, and our children, Alina and Jaden.
Thank you all for this profound opportunity to serve.
Nominee for Deputy Secretary of the Treasury, Wally Adeyemo
Mr. President-elect, Madame Vice President-elect — thank you for this opportunity to return to the Treasury Department and serve the American people.
I know firsthand the President-elect’s capacity to lift our country out of hard times, because I had the privilege of working with him to help Americans recover from the Great Recession.
In California’s Inland Empire, where I‘d grown up in a working-class neighborhood, the Great Recession hit us hard — we were one of the foreclosure capitals in the United States.
The pain of this was real for me — it wasn’t just a number in a jobs report or a story on the nightly news — but neighbors and friends who lost everything.
I was proud of the work my teams did at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Treasury Department to help turn the tide.
I was prouder still to serve with leaders like the President-elect, who oversaw the Recovery Act’s implementation — investing in American workers, betting on their resilience and drive, and giving families a chance to get up off the mat.
I believe that’s what public service is all about at its best: Giving people a fair shot when they need it most, offering hope through the dark times, and making sure that our economy works not just for the wealthy, but for the hard-working people who make it run.
Those are lessons I learned from my parents — an elementary school principal and a nurse, who came to America to build a better life for me and my siblings.
They taught us that we have a responsibility to serve our community and the country that gave us so many opportunities, but I also learned early on how much more needs to be done to ensure that everyone has the fair chance they deserve.
I look forward to working with Janet Yellen to reduce inequality in this country and expand the middle class, and make sure we build an economy that works for everyone.
As we build back better, we must also remain laser-focused on the Treasury Department’s critical role protecting our National Security.
This includes using our sanctions regime to hold bad actors accountable, dismantling the financial networks of terrorist organizations and others who seek to do us harm, and ensuring our foreign investment policy protects America’s national security interests.
The challenges before us today are unlike anything we have ever faced.
But I know that what the President-elect so often reminds us is true — the American people can do anything when given a chance.
I’m honored to be a part of this talented team, to get to work with them and all Americans, to build an economy that gives everyone that chance, and turns our nation once again from crisis to hope.
Nominee for CEA Chair, Cecilia Rouse
Mr. President-elect, Madame Vice President-elect — thank you for the extraordinary opportunity to join this team.
I am humbled and honored, and ready to get to work for the American people.
To be perfectly honest, until recently I did not anticipate that I would return to public service.
As every academic knows, when you’ve laid down roots at a school you love, with incredible students and colleagues you’ve grown with, it isn’t easy to take a leave. It requires a rare combination of urgency and opportunity to pull you away.
But that rare combination is precisely what our nation is facing right now.
My path as an economist began in my first year of college — my mother, a school psychologist, encouraged me to take a course in economics, and it happened to coincide with what at the time was one of the worst spikes in unemployment since the Great Depression.
It was impossible to separate what we were learning in the classroom from what I knew was going on in towns across the country, and I found myself drawn to study the labor market in all of its dimensions — the reasons that jobs disappear; the impact of education on people’s job prospects; the ways we can tear down barriers to job growth and make it easier for people to find long-lasting economic security.
Today, nearly forty years later, we are once again living through one of the worst jobs crises since the Great Depression.
Millions of families have had their lives turned upside down. The safety net has frayed, leaving vulnerable Americans to slip through into hardship and hopelessness, and structural inequities that have always existed in our economy are being exacerbated like never before.
This is a moment of urgency and opportunity unlike anything we’ve faced in modern times.
The urgency of ending a devastating crisis.
And the opportunity to build a better economy in its wake — an economy that works for everyone, brings fulfilling job opportunities, and leaves no one to fall through the cracks.
I look forward to working with the President-elect, the Vice President-elect, and this entire team to address that urgency and seize that opportunity — and make our economic system work better for every American.
Appointee for Member of the Council of Economic Advisers, Jared Bernstein
I’m hard-pressed to find the words to express my gratitude to the President-elect and Vice President-elect for the chance to be here today.
In thinking about the path that brought me here, a good place to start is 12 years ago — almost to the day — when I met with then-Vice-President-elect Biden at his home not far from here.
It was supposed to be a job interview to be his chief economist, but it quickly turned into a conversation about economic justice and fairness — which, as many here know, is a common destination in conversations with the President-elect.
Over the years, we’ve continued that discussion.
Often, it takes the form of some policy minutiae — sometimes, it’s me hitting him with far more graphics than are necessary, or him telling me to stop speaking econo-mese and start speaking English.
Guilty as charged, Mr. President-elect.
I suspect the reason we had such a meeting of the minds back then dates back to a common saying in my household when I was growing up: “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”
I grew up with a single mother — a lifelong educator.
There was a picture of FDR on the wall. Her proudest moment wasn’t when I got a PhD.
It was when I got a union card — Local 802, the New York City’s musicians’ union — but that’s a whole other story.
Of course, if you intend to be part of the solution, you need to accurately diagnose the problem.
On that front, I believe the team assembled by the President-elect and Vice President-elect has been resonant and visionary.
Yes, they’ve stressed the urgent need to control the virus and provide the relief needed to help families and businesses get to the other side of this crisis.
But they’ve been just as adamant that simply getting back to where we were sets the bar too low — we must build back an economy that’s far more resilient, far more fair, and far more inclusive.
It is precisely the vision this nation needs, and I suspect I’m not the only person on this stage champing at the bit to get to work on making their vision a reality.
Appointee for Member of the Council of Economic Advisers, Heather Boushey
Mr. President-elect, Madame Vice President-elect — I am honored and grateful for the chance to be a part of this exceptional team — and excited to get to work helping build an economy rooted in the values we share:
Equality, opportunity, and the dignity of work.
It’s no accident that I’ve focused my career on instilling those values in our economy, developing policies that help our nation grow stronger by growing more equitably.
Like the President-elect and the Vice President-elect, those values were instilled in me at a young age.
In the late 1970s, my dad got a job at Boeing — and if you grew up in Seattle like I did, you know what that means.
A lot more than a paycheck, as Janet referenced, and as the President-elect often reminds us.
And for our family, my dad’s job at Boeing meant security, union benefits, a place in the neighborhood, a place in the middle class.
But when a recession hit in the early 80s, one by one, the pink slips arrived for every family on our cul-de-sac.
Every kid at my bus stop had a parent who was laid off. Our entire community saw its future dimmed, and one day, it was my turn.
So the first time I truly experienced this thing called the economy, it was my parents sitting me down and explaining that things were going to be tougher for a while because my dad was on layoff.
Too many kids in America experience the economy through those difficult conversations — or far worse.
I was struck by the profound power this mysterious force held over my life, my friends, and my community.
And I wondered if that power couldn’t also be wielded to create happier conversations and fuller lives.
I’ve dedicated my career to figuring out how we can grow and sustain the middle class — and uproot the gender barriers and racial barriers that leave too many Americans outside the Dream, looking in.
Through the organization I co-founded, I’ve pursued solutions to reverse the dangerous march of inequality, and bring us back to the core value of broadly-shared success.
That’s the same value I see at the heart of the Build Back Better plan — and it’s why I’m excited and honored to help this team bring not just good jobs — but the good lives and peace of mind that come with them to every American community.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
Mr. President-elect, congratulations on choosing this outstanding economic team.
And to our nominees and appointees, thank you for your continued service to our nation.
This is the team we need to deliver immediate economic relief to the American people, to get our economy back on track, and to make sure it works for working people.
And, as President-elect Biden noted earlier, completing that task could not be more urgent.
Cases of COVID-19 are spiking.
And beyond the tragic loss of life, the toll of this recession continues to mount.
Across America, one in six adults with children say their families are hungry; one in three adults are having trouble paying their bills; and the number of open small businesses has fallen by nearly 30 percent due to this pandemic, while many others are hoping they can stay afloat until a vaccine is available.
These are the struggles — the worries — that keep people up in the middle of the night.
But Americans are not united by their worries alone.
They’re united by their aspirations — for themselves and their families.
Because no matter where you live or what language your grandmother speaks, everyone wants to be able to get a job and keep a job.
No matter what your gender or who you love, everyone wants to be able to buy a home and keep a home.
And no matter how you worship or who you voted for in this election, everyone wants to be able to give their children a decent education, even during a pandemic.
Joe and I understand that.
We were raised to respect the dignity of work.
That’s why I’ve always fought for working people — from standing up for middle class families who’d lost their homes in the Great Recession to joining picket lines to advance workers’ rights.
And I look forward to collaborating with this extraordinary team to put working people front and center in this administration.
These public servants are some of America’s most brilliant minds.
They are proven leaders, whose talents, achievements, and life stories reflect the very best of our country.
And they not only have the experience and expertise to help end this economic crisis and put people back to work, they also share our commitment to building an economy — an America — where everyone has access to a higher minimum wage and affordable health care.
Paid family leave and paid sick leave.
Homeownership, and capital to start a small business.
An America where opportunity is within reach for everyone. For all The People.
So, we’ve got a lot of work to do, to build that America.
And President-elect Biden and I, with this economic team, will be ready to hit the ground running on day one.
Because that’s what this crisis demands.
And that’s what the American people deserve.