On Monday, November 30, President-elect Biden announced the first members of his economic team. Biographies for each individual are below.
Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury
Yellen is an economist at the Brookings Institution and was an advisor to the Biden campaign. Yellen was the 15th Chair of the Federal Reserve, appointed under the Obama-Biden administration, serving from 2014 to 2018, when President Trump opted not to nominate Yellen for another term. From 2010 to 2014, she was the Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, making her the first Vice Chair to then become Chair of the Federal Reserve. She had previously been appointed to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors from 1994 to 1997. While Chair of the Federal Reserve, Yellen is credited with maintaining low interest rates while seeing job and wage growth, including, at the time, the greatest improvement in unemployment numbers since 1948. Yellen has been described as a “dove” due to her prioritizing unemployment more than inflation and her reluctance to support interest rate hikes. She was the first woman to hold the position of Chair of the Federal Reserve and the first Democratic nominee to run the Federal Reserve since 1979.
Before joining the Federal Reserve Board of Governors for a second time, Yellen was the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco from 2004 to 2010. She was the 18th Chair of the Council of Economic advisers from 1997 to 1999 during the Clinton administration. She also chaired the Economic Policy Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development from 1997 to 1999. Yellen earned a degree in economics from Brown University and her Ph.D. from Yale University.
Neera Tanden, Director of the Office of Management and Budget
Tanden is the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a center-left think tank and policy institute. Prior to leading CAP, she was the Center’s COO. Tanden was previously the Domestic Policy Director for Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, and served in the Obama-Biden administration as Senior Adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius, where she was described as one of the key architects of the Affordable Care Act, including work proposing the later-withdrawn public option. Tanden is known for being publicly critical of politicians on both sides of the aisle, which could impact her Senate confirmation process.
Tanden is well known for her close ties with the Clintons, working as Associate Director for Domestic Policy in the Clinton administration and as a Senior Advisor to the First Lady. She was the Deputy Campaign Manager and Issues Director for Hillary Clinton’s successful senatorial campaign and was Senator Clinton’s Legislative Director. Tanden was an advisor to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and was named to Clinton’s transition team. Tanden earned her bachelor of science from the University of California, Los Angeles and her J.D. from Yale Law School.
Wally Adeyemo, Deputy Secretary of the Treasury
Adeyemo is the president of the Obama Foundation. Adeyemo served in the Obama-Biden administration as both Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics and as Deputy Director of the National Economic Council from 2015 to 2016. He served as Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of Staff to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and as the chief negotiator of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. While at Treasury, he helped craft the Administration’s response to the 2008 financial crisis. Adeyemo has served as the President’s representative to the G7 and G20.
Adeyemo also served as the first Chief of Staff for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Elizabeth Warren. Before joining the Obama Foundation, Adeyemo was a Senior Advisor at BlackRock and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, and serves on the boards of Demos, the Golden State Opportunity Foundation, and Just Homes. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley and his J.D. from Yale Law School.
Cecilia Rouse, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers
Rouse is the Dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. She served as a member of the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA) from 2009 to 2011 during the Obama administration. If confirmed, she would become the first African American and the fourth woman to lead the CEA. Rouse’s primary research focus is on labor economics and the economics of education.
Rouse is the Founding Director of the Princeton University Education Research Section, is a member of the National Academy of Education, and is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research. She is on the board of directors for MDRC, serves as director of the T. Rowe Price Equity Mutual Funds, and an Advisory Board member of the T. Rowe Price Fixed Income Mutual Funds. Rouse has previously served as an editor of the Journal of Labor Economics and as a senior editor of The Future of Children. Rouse received her bachelor’s and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.
Jared Bernstein, Member of the Council of Economic Advisers
Bernstein has been a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities since 2011. He previously served as Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to then-Vice President Biden, Executive Director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team from 2009 to 2011. Before joining the Obama administration, Bernstein was a senior economist and the director of the Living Standards Program at the Economic Policy Institute. He was the Deputy Chief Economist at the Department of Labor from 1995 to 1996.
Bernstein has written several books including Getting Back to Full Employment: A Better Bargain for Working People, Crunch: Why Do I Feel So Squeezed?, The State of Working America, and The Reconnection Agenda: Reuniting Growth and Prosperity. He has been published in the New York Times and Washington Post and appears as an on-air commentator for CNBC and MSNBC. He has extensive experience in federal and state economic and fiscal policies, income inequality and mobility, trends in employment and earnings, international comparisons, and the analysis of financial and housing markets. Bernstein received his bachelor’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music, his master of social work degree from Hunter College, and his Ph.D. in social welfare from Columbia University.
Heather Boushey, Member of the Council of Economic Advisers
Boushey is the President & CEO and co-founder of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, which was established in 2013. She previously served as chief economist for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential transition team. She has also served as an economist for the Center for American Progress, the United States Joint Economic Committee, the Center for Economic and Policy Research, and the Economic Policy Institute. She is the author of Finding Time: The Economics of Work-Life Conflict and Unbound: How Economic Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do About It and a co-editor of a volume of 22 essays titled After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality.
Boushey regularly contributes to the New York Times, The Atlantic, and Democracy Journal. She also makes television appearances on Bloomberg, MSNBC, CNBC, and PBS. Her research mainly focuses on the intersection between economic inequality, growth, and public policy. She currently sits on the board of the Opportunity Institute and is a senior fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research. Boushey received her bachelor’s from Hampshire College and her Ph.D. in economics from the New School for Social Research.
President-elect Biden’s economic team has deep experience in government and academia and will bring to their new roles a largely progressive worldview focused on full employment, higher wage growth, and reducing inequality. Nearly all of the President-elect’s team served in senior roles in the Obama administration or, as in the case of Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen, were appointed to their positions by President Obama. Several members of the new team, including Cecilia Rouse, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, have experience working on various aspects of the Recovery Act in 2009, and Biden’s team is likely to advocate for fiscal policies that encourage higher government spending in 2021 and possibly beyond to help the American economy recover from the COVID-induced recession.
It is noteworthy that some members of the team, including Yellen, have already received praise from some Republican members of Congress. Even the more progressive members of the team, like Boushey, have advocated for ideas like automatic stabilizers that the moderate New Democrat Coalition has strongly supported as a means to create countercyclical fiscal triggers tied to the unemployment rate and other economic indicators.
The president-elect’s economic team is also noteworthy for its racial, ethnic, and gender diversity. Yellen would serve as the first female Treasury Secretary in the department’s history, Rouse would serve as the first Black Chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, and Wally Adeyemo would become the first Black Deputy Treasury Secretary. The Biden transition has worked to put together a team that, as the transition has noted, “looks like America,” and while his nominees are ideologically aligned, they also appear to be broadly acceptable to both the progressive and moderate wings of the party.
The Biden transition has already called on the Senate to begin confirmation hearings, as all of the members of the economic team who have been announced so far would require Senate confirmation. (Biden’s National Economic Council Director, rumored to be Brian Deese, would not require Senate confirmation).
So far, only the nomination of Neera Tanden as Director of the Office of Management and Budget has drawn fire from Senate Republicans. It is possible that past partisan statements made on social and traditional media will jeopardize her nomination. Should she advance to a confirmation hearing, Tanden’s work on the Affordable Care Act early in the Obama administration is likely to get significant attention as well.