‘Recovery for everybody’ pledged by Biden as economic team unveiled

‘It’s time we address the structural inequities in our economy that this crisis has laid bare’

US president-elect Joe Biden: His economic officials are “a first-rate team that is going to get us through this ongoing economic crisis and help build this economy back”.  Photograph:  Chandan Khanna

US president-elect Joe Biden: His economic officials are “a first-rate team that is going to get us through this ongoing economic crisis and help build this economy back”. Photograph: Chandan Khanna

 

President-elect Joe Biden pledged to “create a recovery for everybody”, as he unveiled his senior economic team in Delaware on Tuesday.

Wearing a black boot on his right foot due to a weekend ankle injury, Mr Biden sketched out his economic plan for the country, signalling that the issue of income inequality would be a key priority as he seeks to rebuild the American economy. 

“Times are tough but I want you to know that help is on the way,” he declared.  

“It’s time to invest in infrastructure, clean energy, climate change, manufacturing. It’s time we address the structural inequities in our economy that this crisis has laid bare.”

Referencing his own upbringing in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he noted that sales of luxury properties were up 40 per cent compared to last year, while one in six renters were behind in their rent payments in October. “We’re going to create a recovery for everybody,” he said, describing his group of economic officials as “a first-rate team that is going to get us through this ongoing economic crisis and help build this economy back”.

In a further sign that the incoming president intends to reflect the priorities of the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party, he said that two of his nominees had been recommended by Senator Elizabeth Warren, the left-wing former presidential candidate.

‘Most vulnerable’

His message was underlined by his picks for the top economic positions, most of whom must be confirmed by the Senate. All talked about their own personal and professional backgrounds at the Delaware event, emphasising their belief in the importance of work and the need to address inequalities. 

Janet Yellen, his choice for treasury secretary, pledged to rebuild the American dream “for all Americans”. The coronavirus pandemic has had a “disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable among us”, she said, pledging to address deep structural issues in the American economy including gender and racial disparities as well as climate change.

Cecilia Rouse, the Princeton economist who Mr Biden has tapped as chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, said America was living through “one of the worst jobs crises since the Great Depression”.

She said that the “structural inequities” that have always been present in the American system, are being exacerbated by the downturn.

Senate seats

But in a sign of the difficulty ahead for at least some of Mr Biden’s nominees, senior Republicans lambasted the incoming president’s choice for certain positions, suggesting a tough battle ahead in the Senate. The final configuration of the Senate will not be known until January when elections for Georgia’s two senate seats take place. If Democrats do not win both seats, Republicans will control the chamber, leaving his nominees dependent on winning Republican votes to secure confirmation. Already, Mr Biden’s nomination of Neera Tanden for the role of director of Office of Budget and Management has sparked pushback from Republicans.

Senator John Thune, the second-ranking Republican in the senate, described Ms Tanden, who currently chairs the left-leaning think tank, the Centre for American Progress, as a “hard-edged partisan” on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, attorney general Bill Barr said the department of justice had found no evidence of election fraud that would sway the election for Donald Trump – the latest blow to the US president’s attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election. Mr Barr made the comments in an interview with the Associated Press.