Everything You Need To Know And Expect From A Biden / Harris White House #GotBitcoin
Obama-Era Alumni Are Favorites For Biden’s Top Economic Posts. Everything You Need To Know And Expect From A Biden / Harris White House #GotBitcoin
Tracking Joe Biden’s Cabinet Nominees
President-elect Joe Biden rounded out his cabinet nominees by announcing Isabel Guzman, director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate, to lead the Small Business Association.
Earlier Thursday Biden announced he’d picked Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo to serve as his secretary of Commerce and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh to lead the Department of Labor.
Biden named people to 23 cabinet and cabinet-level positions. The president’s cabinet includes the vice president, the attorney general and the leaders of the 15 executive departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs.
There are also seven cabinet-level positions: White House Chief of Staff, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Office of Management and Budget director, United States Trade Representative, United States ambassador to the United Nations, Council of Economic Advisers chairman, and Small Business Administration administrator.
From the start of his campaign, Biden has pledged to ensure his cabinet will look like America in terms of background and ideology. President Barack Obama’s first cabinet included 15 people of color and women. Before the end of the primary Biden had pledged to nominate a woman to serve as his vice president and said he would nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court should a position open up.
Women and people of color are considered top contenders for the departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Energy, Health and Human Services, and the EPA.
President-elect Joe Biden has named the first senior officials to join his incoming administration, a day after the outgoing administration formally initiated the transition process.
Biden will be naming 23 people in total to cabinet and cabinet-level positions. The president’s cabinet includes the vice president, the attorney general and the leaders of the 15 executive departments: Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs.
There are also seven cabinet-level positions: White House Chief of Staff, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Office of Management and Budget director, United States Trade Representative, United States ambassador to the United Nations, Council of Economic Advisers chairman, and Small Business Administration administrator.
From the start of his campaign, Biden has pledged to ensure his cabinet will look like America in terms of background and ideology. President Barack Obama’s first cabinet included 14 people of color and women. Before the end of the primary Biden had pledged to nominate a woman to serve as his vice president and said he would nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court should a position open up.
Women and people of color are considered top contenders for the departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Energy, Health and Human Services, and the EPA.
The Senate will begin taking up confirmation of Biden’s nominees after his inauguration in January.
Here Are Some Of The Names Being Mentioned For The Top Jobs In A Biden Administration:
Brainard, a member of the Fed board since 2014, is the clear favorite to become Treasury secretary. She has resisted loosening bank regulations at the Fed board, dissenting on several measures. On monetary policy, she has been a team player, going along with the majority in every vote.
Her experience serving on the Fed board has given her a relationship with Fed Chair Jerome Powell, who plays an important role in orchestrating with Treasury on the response to a faltering economy in the pandemic.
Brainard was undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs during the Obama administration. The Harvard-educated economist said in a speech last month that the biggest downside risk to her outlook would be “the failure of additional fiscal support to materialize,” which she said risks longer-term scarring to the economy’s growth potential. The Harvard-educated economist has highlighted some more progressive policies recently, such as the Community Reinvestment Act. In January, she gave a speech highlighting reform efforts necessary to encourage more lending in low- and moderate-income markets.
The Biden team is also said to be looking at Jeff Zients, who was director of the National Economic Council under President Barack Obama. He was widely praised for his work to salvage the website associated with the Affordable Care Act, healthcare.gov, after a disastrous initial rollout, and was then dubbed “Mr. Fix-it” in the administration.
Also on the list are Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who was secretary of Health and Human Services under Obama, as well as Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former Fed governor and Treasury official.
Ex-Fed official Roger Ferguson and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic, both Black men, are also possibilities. Bostic, however, is also being considered as a replacement for Powell, whose term is up in 2022. Ferguson was widely praised for his role coordinating the Fed’s response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when then central bank injected billions of dollars into the economy.
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, one of Biden’s progressive rivals for the Democratic nomination, is said to want the job, but she would be a tough sell for confirmation if Republicans control the Senate and is deeply distrusted on Wall Street and in the business community.
Council of Economic Advisers
Jared Bernstein, who was Biden’s chief economic adviser when he was vice president, has seen his name in contention.
A labor economist, Bernstein helped draft a rule almost doubling the salary threshold for overtime pay. Now a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, he is considered left of center and could be a bridge to the progressive wing of the party. He also was an informal adviser to the campaign.
Boushey is also a possibility. She is the president and chief executive officer of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a think tank launched in 2013 that focuses on inequality. She has focused on promoting policies such as paid sick days and child care.
National Economic Council
Boushey is also being considered for NEC director. She served as chief economist for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential transition team and was widely expected to have a prominent economic policy role had Clinton been elected.
Biden has two top candidates for secretary of state: longtime aide Antony Blinken, who served as Biden’s national security adviser, and Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser who was on Biden’s short list for vice president. But Rice would likely not be confirmed by a Republican-controlled Senate.
Blinken is a veteran Washington foreign policy hand. He worked as the Democratic staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was deputy secretary of state from 2015-2017, when he helped implement the Obama administration’s policy pivot to Asia. He also worked in the Obama White House as special assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser.
The odds-on favorite is Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense who was seen as Clinton’s pick for the job if she’d won in 2016. Flournoy was the highest-ranking woman in Pentagon history when she was the top adviser to then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009, and would be the first woman to run the Pentagon.
Another potential candidate is Jeh Johnson, who led the Department of Homeland Security under Obama and would be the first Black Defense secretary. Another name being mentioned is Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. She served in the Army Illinois National Guard in Iraq, where she lost both of her legs in combat.
Sally Yates, a career federal prosecutor who was named deputy attorney general by Obama is among those being chatted about. She served as acting attorney general for 10 days at the beginning of the Trump administration until Trump fired her for insubordination after she refused to defend the ban on travelers from several Muslim-majority countries.
Others under consideration are Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, who lost his re-election bid, and Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by Trump.
The top candidate is Lisa Monaco, who served as Obama’s homeland security adviser. He reportedly gave her the nickname “Dr. Doom” because of her dark assessments of the terrorism threat. She worked for the Biden campaign running what it called a “network” of teams vetting potential vice-presidential candidates. She also served on the committee advising Biden on a response to the coronavirus.
The leading contender to head either the CIA or be Director of National Intelligence is Avril Haines. She served as deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration. She was also deputy director of the CIA under Obama, the first woman to hold the position. In a top intelligence role, she would take the lead on rebuilding the intelligence community, which has been at odds with Trump.
Biden has proposed creating a special position to oversee the response to the pandemic. Members of the coronavirus task force Biden assembled during the campaign could be considered, including Vivek Murthy, a former surgeon general under Obama, and David Kessler, who led the Food and Drug Administration in the Obama administration.
Biden has also said he wants Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases who has become a contrary voice to Trump about managing the pandemic, to have a role in his administration.
Biden is considering establishing a new climate czar to coordinate efforts to fight global warming. Top candidates include former Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped broker the landmark Paris climate accord. During his more than a quarter-century representing Massachusetts in the Senate, Kerry led an unsuccessful push for a carbon cap-and-trade program.
Another potential pick is Jay Inslee, the newly re-elected governor of Washington and self-styled “climate candidate” for the Democratic presidential nomination who has argued for a “full mobilization of the United States” to fight global warming.
Inslee, who spent two terms in the U.S. House, also left an imprint on Biden’s climate plans, including the president-elect’s marquee plan to make U.S. electricity carbon-free by 2035. John Podesta, former President Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, has also been mentioned.
Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA administrator post will be crucial to advancing Biden’s aggressive plans for fighting climate change. The top candidates are California air regulator Mary Nichols and Mississippi’s Heather McTeer Toney, a regional EPA administrator for several Southern states under Obama.
For more than 50 years, Nichols has been at the vanguard of American environmentalism, pushing clean air and climate policies in California that are a model for the nation and the 13 states that specifically adhere to them. But the so-called “queen of green” could face opposition in a Republican-controlled Senate because of her high-profile status as an environmental leader and chief foe of Trump’s climate policy rollbacks.
Toney was the first Black, female, and, having been elected at age 27, the youngest person ever to serve as mayor of Greenville, Mississippi. Now, she’s the national field director for the Mom’s Clean Air Force, a grassroots group dedicated to fighting air pollution. Also under consideration are former Delaware regulator and National Wildlife Federation Chief Executive Officer Collin O’Mara; former Connecticut regulator Dan Esty; former Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire; and Inslee.
Health And Human Services
The leading contenders are two women who Biden also considered for vice president: Representative Karen Bass of California, head of the Congressional Black Caucus, and New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Bass, who was a physician assistant before coming to Congress, has made health care a focus of her career. Her support Medicare-for-All legislation, which Biden has rejected, could make her a tough sell for confirmation to lead the agency that administers the health care system.
Before becoming governor, Grisham was New Mexico’s secretary of health and helped build up the state’s public health system.
She was the first Democratic Hispanic elected governor of a U.S. state and the first female Democratic governor of New Mexico. She has led her state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic since the outbreak worsened in the spring.
Housing And Urban Development
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who was also on the short list as a vice-presidential candidate, is under consideration. As a Black woman and the mayor of a majority Black city, she was praised for her response to the civil unrest last summer.
Phillip Washington, the head of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is under consideration, as is Sarah Feinberg, the interim president of the New York City Transit Authority and former administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration.
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who ran against Biden in the primary is a distinct possibility. He was on Biden’s transition team and was a prominent surrogate for the nominee on the campaign trail. Buttigieg served as in the Navy Reserves in Afghanistan. He would be the first openly gay head of the agency.
Duckworth was head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. She was the first female double amputee elected to the Senate and first senator to give birth while in office.
A Thai-American, she would be another Asian-American woman at the top of the Biden administration, along with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, whose mother was born in India. Duckworth, who was a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard, has ancestors who have served in every major U.S. conflict since the Revolutionary War.
Buttigieg has also been one of the names circulating for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Serving in this post, which has been a cabinet-level job in some administrations, would serve several purposes for Buttigieg. It would allow him to practice the seven languages he says he speaks –Norwegian, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, Dari and French — and would burnish his foreign policy credentials should the 38-year-old decide to run for the presidency again.
National Security Adviser
Blinken, who is also being considered for the State Department, has worked with Biden since he was in the Senate. He said recently that the next administration’s foreign policy would aim to reverse the U.S.’s withdrawal from global affairs under Trump. “We’d actually show up again, day-in, day-out,” he told Axios in October.
Rice is also a possibility for this job, which doesn’t require Senate confirmation. But she may not want it, since she had the same job in the Obama administration.
Another strong candidate for a senior foreign policy position is Jake Sullivan, who served as Biden’s national security adviser when he was vice president and and was an adviser to Clinton when she was secretary of state.
Colin Kahl, who also served as Biden’s national security adviser when he was vice president, has also been considered.
Former Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota is most frequently mentioned. She has led a Democratic rural outreach group, the One Country Project, and has been active as a surrogate for Biden in rural areas.
Other candidates include Representative Cheri Bustos of Illinois, who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; California Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross, a former chief of staff to Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Krysta Harden, a former Obama deputy agriculture secretary who now works with Vilsack as chief operating officer at the Dairy Export Council, are also often mentioned.
Long shots: Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine; Kathleen Merrigan, Obama’s first deputy agriculture secretary; Delaware Agriculture Secretary Michael Scuse; former Governor Steve Bullock of Montana or House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota.
Retiring Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico is the top contender to be secretary of Interior. His father, Stewart Udall, was Interior secretary from 1961 to 1969 and is credited with a major expansion in federal land protection, including the creation of dozens of wildlife refuges, national parks and recreation areas.
Udall, who says conservation is in his DNA, has laid out plans to enlist federal lands in the fight against climate change and has driven efforts to block drilling near the sandstone mesas and ruins of northwest New Mexico’s Greater Chaco region.
Representative Deb Haaland, another Democrat from New Mexico, and Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona who leads the House Natural Resources Committee, also have won praise from environmental groups and been recommended to head the Interior Department.
Senator Eyed As Biden Interior Chief Has Conservation Streak
The close and bitter end to his fight with Trump will increase pressure on Biden to pick a Republican for his cabinet in a nod at bipartisanship, as Obama did with his first Defense secretary. Possible contenders include two Republicans who spoke at the Democratic convention: former Ohio Governor John Kasich and Meg Whitman, a tech executive who ran for California governor.
He is also said to be considering the late Senator John McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain, for a role, along with Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, former Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and former Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania.
Chief of Staff
The leading candidate is Ron Klain, who was Biden’s vice presidential chief of staff and led the Obama administration’s economic recovery and Ebola crisis response. Those experiences would be particularly relevant, given that Biden would be tackling coronavirus and the resulting economic downturn upon taking office.
Steve Ricchetti is also a former Biden vice-presidential chief of staff, and was chairman of Biden’s 2020 campaign.
Also being mentioned is Zients, a co-chair of Biden’s transition team and a former director of the National Economic Council under Obama.
Close associates such as Ted Kaufman, Biden’s longtime chief of staff in the Senate who led the transition team, and Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, could also play big roles in the inner circle.
Long shot: Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond, an early Biden endorser and campaign co-chair, who would be the first Black White House chief of staff.
Wall Street Wants To Be Sure Biden Can Keep Warren’s Army At Bay
Wall Street has made its peace with a Joe Biden victory, taking comfort in his decades-long political career in which moderation is a prevailing trait. But it’s nervous about his more liberal allies.
Finance executives will be closely watching how Biden handles the coming internal Democratic fight between centrists and progressives that threatens to increase regulation and dent profits.
Firms are counting on his business-friendly inner circle — a group that includes long-time Democratic stategists, corporate lawyers and former lobbyists — to exert the most influence in selecting nominees for agencies like the Treasury Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission that manage the economy and police the markets.
Middle-of-the-road candidates have a key advantage: They’ll have a much easier path to confirmation in a Senate that appears likely to remain in Republican hands.
Yet liberal Democrats, inspired by Senator Elizabeth Warren’s focus on wealth inequality and distrust of big banks, are intent on getting like-minded officials into those jobs. They argue that in a Democratic administration, the president must pick regulators with strong records of prioritizing average Americans over financial titans.
“Personnel is policy,” and progressives have come into the fight “armed with a bazooka,” said Stephen Myrow, managing partner of Beacon Policy Advisors, a Washington-based firm that tracks regulatory and legislative proposals. “You will certainly see some re-regulation.”
Hanging in the balance could be the reach of post-crisis rules that were eased during the Trump administration. Over the past four years, adjustments to complex requirements like capital levels, collateral for derivatives trades and brokers’ legal responsibilities have saved banks tens of billions of dollars.
Firms are also concerned there will be a fresh focus on investigations, a clampdown on executive pay and that regulators will be slow to lift restrictions on dividends and share buybacks that were implemented due to the pandemic.
Can Buybacks Resume?
Banks will return excess capital to shareholders if regulators allow them.
Biden has already tapped former Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler and KeyBank NA executive Don Graves to examine financial regulatory agencies as part of the presidential transition, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Gensler’s role should appease progressives, as he gained a reputation for standing up to Wall Street during President Barack Obama’s administration. Conversely, the involvement of a long-time banker like Graves will probably reassure financial firms.
Though banks, private equity firms and hedge funds mostly escaped the spotlight during a presidential campaign dominated by coronavirus, their top managers and Washington lobbyists — many of whom donated to Biden’s run — are now emerging from the shadows to offer lists of preferred agency chiefs.
In a nod to Biden’s pledge to have a diverse administration, their candidates include women and people of color who have experience at investment firms. A number, too, have worked under Obama, making them a known quantity to Wall Street.
The progressives, however, say they plan to draw the line at regulators in the vein of Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner or Lawrence Summers.
The activists have also been busy doing opposition research, paying particular attention to employees at private equity firms and asset manager BlackRock Inc., which they contend holds too much sway in Washington. Progressives say they plan to oppose most industry-connected candidates, even for lower-level jobs.
Still, with the chances of Democrats taking the Senate looking challenging, the financial industry might dodge some of the most arduous measures that Washington could have thrown at them. That includes higher corporate taxes, new levies on stock trading and high-profile Senate hearings where CEOs would face a barrage of uncomfortable questions.
Along with the slate of new agency chiefs, the Biden victory will impact financial companies large and small in numerous ways. What follows is a look at several agencies and policy areas that will be on the front burner as the Biden administration begins in January.
New Constraints On Pay?
More than a decade since Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, there’s still a major requirement that’s never been finished: a mandate that financial regulators implement constraints on executive pay at banks, brokerages, asset managers and other firms.
The purpose is to rein in compensation practices that encouraged the kind of excessive risk-taking that caused the 2008 financial crisis. But regulators have proposed rules multiple times without ever settling on an approach.
While firms sought to get out in front of the rules by beefing up their own policies for clawing back bonuses and withholding deferred pay, watchdogs appointed by Biden could mandate requirements that are much tougher that those that companies have adopted.
A Private Equity Reckoning?
It’s no secret that private equity firms are No. 1 on the Democrats’ hit list for the finance industry. The lightly regulated investment companies are sure to face policy fights that could impact their business model, as well as the companies they own.
Democrats’ goal of imposing new taxes on buyout firms will face headwinds in the Senate. But it’s possible eliminating the carried interest loophole, which allows partners’ profits to be taxed at a lower capital gains rate rather than as income, could draw bipartisan support.
Other tax targets that might imperil the industry, such as limiting the deductibility of the debt that is often piled on corporate acquisitions, seem doubtful.
Even without Congress, Biden’s regulators are expected to step up scrutiny of private equity and could issue new rules. Though some Trump holdovers could slow the process, the industry is likely to be reviewed by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the powerful group of regulators led by the Treasury secretary.
FSOC can put firms under Federal Reserve supervision or regulate industry practices that it deems potentially unsafe.
Lastly, Democrats in the House may turn to a “name-and-shame” agenda, by holding hearings and conducting investigations to highlight issues like bankruptcies of portfolio companies or the industry’s more controversial investments in health-care and private prisons.
A Reprieve On Taxes?
Trump’s 2017 tax cuts have been particularly beneficial for banks. Their effective rates used to be higher than those paid by non-financial companies and had more room to fall.
Paying More To Uncle Sam
After Years Of Savings Provided By Trump Tax Cuts, Banks Could See An Increase In Their Tax Bill
Biden has proposed an increase to the corporate rate that could result in the six biggest U.S. banks paying an additional $9 billion in 2021, and much more in future years as their earnings recover from the pandemic. But it’s hard to see Republican senators supporting a tax hike.
A Reinvigorated CFPB?
Wall Street has already ceded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to the progressives, who want Warren’s brainchild to get much tougher than it has in the Trump years in policing mortgages, credit cards and other products.
Warren herself is sure to play a role in picking its next director and one potential candidate is U.S. Representative Katie Porter of California, an acolyte of the Massachusetts senator.
Banks are hoping that if a more liberal appointee is confirmed to run the CFPB, Biden may gain flexibility to pick moderates to take the helms of the Treasury Department, the Fed and the SEC.
Earnings For FDIC Insured Banks Topped $230 Billion In 2018 And 2019
Still, the CFPB won’t have a light-touch agenda like it did under Trump, when the agency’s budget was closely scrutinized and it focused on smaller payday lenders, mortgage firms and auto loan companies.
Big banks are likely to get more attention, along with new rules and sanctions. That includes an expected effort to rein in overdraft fees – which bring lenders some $11 billion annually.
A Muscle-Flexing FSOC?
In the Trump era, FSOC strayed from its envisioned role of trying to spot risks that could cause another financial panic, focusing instead on ways to cut rules. Most think that will quickly change under Biden.
Its powers include the authority to designate a company “systemically important,” which puts firms under heightened Fed supervision. The council can also do the same for products or practices it believes are too risky, such as money market funds or securities lending. In addition, FSOC sets key oversight priorities.
Biden’s regulators will be able to fill six of the 10 voting seats. Still, four Trump appointees, including the Fed chairman, will retain their jobs and can stay on for at least a year — meaning any change may not come fast.
A Tougher SEC?
No watchdog matters more to Wall Street’s vaunted investment banks than the SEC, which will be at the center of the fight between progressive Democrats and moderates over the direction of financial regulation in the next four years.
Liberals would like to see former SEC Commissioner Kara Stein return to the agency as chairman. She is a vocal industry critic, who during her SEC tenure blasted bank fines as too weak and repeatedly questioned whether the agency should have placed more restrictions on products like leveraged exchange traded funds.
Candidates favored by moderates include former SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson Jr. and Georgetown Law Professor Chris Brummer, who would be the first African American chairman.
Pain For Regional Banks?
Regional lenders such as U.S. Bancorp, PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and Truist Financial Corp. are among those that have benefited most from the Trump administration, with regulators tailoring rules so that Wall Street banks got the toughest oversight.
Biden appointees could revisit those rollbacks, though some Democratic lawmakers backed the relief that mid-sized lenders got under Trump. New watchdogs and Democrats might also exert more scrutiny on potential mergers involving regional banks. Such lenders, however, can count on GOP allies in the Senate to help fend off attacks.
Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden Addresses The Nation As Election Count Continues In Few Key States
What Biden Can Really Do on Climate, Even Without the Senate
Science-based regulatory policies and a White House climate office could help counteract warming, no legislation required.
If there’s one thing working on climate for a living teaches you, it’s coping with uncertainty. If there are two, it’s how politics seemingly trumps all else.
Welcome to the wondrous world of climate politics.
On Friday morning, votes were still being counted, leaving Democratic candidate Joe Biden on the brink of claiming victory over President Donald Trump. Control over the U.S. Senate—through which much of Biden’s $2 trillion climate agenda would need to pass—looks likely to hang in the balance of two runoff elections in Georgia.
Biden in the White House with Democratic allies in total control of Congress could clearly do much more to rein in carbon-dioxide emissions than a president working alone.
Still, there’s a lot a climate president could do. Even the simple step of returning to science-based policymaking would be an enormous improvement and an important first step.
A task force put together during the campaign and led by former Secretary of State John Kerry and Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, identified 56 policy moves on climate and energy that don’t need help from Congress.
To help sort through some of the possibilities, I checked in with energy economist and lawyer Danny Cullenward and political scientist David Victor, authors of the timely new book Making Climate Policy Work. They both emphasized the reality of polarization that will hold true regardless of what happens in Georgia.
“The Senate balanced on a knife-edge will mean that putting through new legislation will require a careful effort to bring along many different interests,” Victor says.
“Climate policy by itself won’t carry the day—it must be linked to broader agendas of social justice, addressing inequality, and first and foremost economic recovery.”
The first test will likely be any kind of economic stimulus package. That’s not a certainty with a Republican-controlled Senate, which didn’t vote on a second stimulus bill before the election. But there’s at least some hope, whereas the chance of climate legislation is close to zero.
That makes it particularly important for a Biden administration to use a climate lens for any measures aimed at stimulating the economy, since other spending measures will likely be limited.
Republicans’ sudden, newfound love for fiscal austerity may well rekindle interest in a ( modest) carbon tax. Expect lots of talk of “budget reconciliation,” a parliamentary process by which budgetary measures can be passed without needing to overcome any filibuster in the Senate.
Senate cooperation might also limit who can be put into any posts requiring Senate confirmation, unless Biden follows President Trump’s lead and bypasses Senate confirmation by appointing people to “acting” posts.
Without the Senate, a Biden presidency could refocus the spotlight on climate policies controlled by the executive branch. Rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement is important, although largely symbolic alone. The key question there is how credible and durable administrative action will be.
Opening a climate office in the White House, which could coordinate executive orders and regulatory actions and, for example, government procurement, would mark a big change. That places the emphasis on agencies and regulatory tools that can set the tone for years to come—think clean infrastructure investments and government building retrofits, rather than reversible short-term action.
These actions would go well beyond regulatory authority under the Clean Air Act, which could help accelerate the move toward cleaner cars and electricity. Cullenward pointed to an important, oft-overlooked agency: the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which sets important guidelines around policy support for zero-carbon energy sources.
It “operates under a totally different legal paradigm—economic regulation, rather than pollution control or natural resource management,” Cullenward says.
The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission could also prove crucial. The SEC is essential to setting standards around disclosure of climate-related corporate information. Similarly, the CFTC’s Market Risk Advisory Committee just recently released a major climate report led by Bob Litterman (with whom I have co-authored a recent carbon pricing study).
The report’s first recommendation is to “establish a price on carbon,” something neither CFTC itself or anyone in the White House can do alone beyond individual sectors like power generation. But there are dozens of concrete actions financial regulators can take, the report noted, from including climate risk explicitly as part of its mandate “to monitor and identify emerging threats to financial stability.”
Cullenward emphasizes the enormous potential for climate action from a White House “that understands the distinct areas of legal and policy expertise required to navigate a coordinated push in energy regulation, financial regulation, and tax policy.” None of this will come easy, especially not in a deeply divided country. But policy action towards climate is the way the trends now point.
Drowned out by U.S. election news, China this week followed its net carbon-neutrality commitment by 2060 with a pledge to phase out non-hybrid internal combustion engines by 2035. The EU, Japan, South Korea and others have now embraced 2050 targets for zeroing out emissions.
A Biden administration’s task of speeding up progress toward a low-carbon, high-efficiency future will be easier than trying to stand in the way of fundamental market trends and apart from the rest of the world. The future always bats next.
Biden Charts Course for New Administration
President-elect’s transition team reviews series of executive orders that could reverse Trump administration policies.
President-elect Joe Biden forged ahead with his transition to the White House, charting a course for significant policy changes even as President Trump declined to concede the race.
A day after the Associated Press declared the 77-year-old Democratic former vice president had garnered enough electoral college votes to win the presidency, Mr. Biden’s transition team was weighing who would fill senior roles in the White House and across the government, according to people familiar with the matter.
It also was discussing executive orders that would reverse some of the Republican incumbent’s signature policy initiatives, including his decision to pull out of the Paris climate-change agreement, the people said.
A transition spokesman said no decision had been made on which executive orders to pursue, but added, “he has the same levers at his disposal as all of his predecessors to address the crises facing the American people.”
The Saturday announcement of Mr. Biden’s win capped an extraordinary week in which both campaigns, and the nation as a whole, awaited media projections on a vote count that took longer than expected because of the widespread use of mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
After being declared the winner Saturday, Mr. Biden gave a national address at a drive-in rally in his hometown of Wilmington, Del. “I pledge to be a president who does not seek to divide, but unify, who doesn’t see red states and blue states, but only sees the United States,” Mr. Biden said.
Also speaking at the rally was running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice president. “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she said to resounding cheers, as several young girls looking on from the crowd waved flags.
The AP’s tally of votes remains preliminary until certified by individual states, and several states have yet to be called. The Electoral College votes in December, and the final results are announced in Congress in January.
Mr. Trump’s campaign has filed lawsuits to contest the vote-counting process in several states, though it was unclear whether any, if successful, would meaningfully change a state’s results.
Some close to Mr. Trump said they believe he will ultimately concede the election once he has time to absorb his loss, but those people also note that the president is difficult to predict.
Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, urged the president to exhaust his legal options, according to people familiar with the situation.
Others pressed the president’s wife, Melania, and his daughter and senior adviser, Ivanka Trump, to help focus Mr. Trump on the final weeks of his term, aides said.
Members of Mr. Trump’s team discussed various scenarios with him over the weekend, according to a White House official.
On Sunday afternoon, the president tweeted, “Since when does the Lamestream Media call who our next president will be? We have all learned a lot in the last two weeks!” He has boasted of receiving the most votes for a sitting president.
As of Sunday afternoon, Mr. Biden had so far received 75.2 million votes, the most cast for any presidential candidate in history, and Mr. Trump has received 70.8 million votes, the second most ever, according to the Associated Press.
White House spokesman Judd Deere said Sunday that Mr. Trump “will accept the results of a free and fair election. The Trump administration is following all statutory requirements.”
Mr. Biden on Sunday attended Mass in Wilmington, Del., joined by his daughter and grandson. He also visited a cemetery where his son Beau and other family members are buried. He didn’t have other events on his schedule for the rest of the day. Mr. Trump went to his golf course in Virginia on Saturday and Sunday.
Former President George W. Bush called Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris on Sunday and offered congratulations. Mr. Bush expressed confidence in the ballot-counting process that the Trump campaign is challenging in several closely fought states.
“President Trump has the right to request recounts and pursue legal challenges, and any unresolved issues will be properly adjudicated,” Mr. Bush said in a statement. “The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”
Congressional GOP leaders largely opted not to acknowledge over the weekend that Mr. Biden had won the election, reflecting Mr. Trump’s continued influence in the party.
“What we need in the presidential race is to make sure every legal vote is counted, every recount is completed, and every legal challenge should be heard,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said Sunday.
Mr. Biden’s win caps a bitter and unusual campaign, the first in more than a century conducted amid a pandemic, in which some 100 million ballots were believed to have been cast before Election Day.
The longtime Washington figure, who had a 36-year career in the U.S. Senate before serving as President Obama’s vice president for two terms, campaigned with a promise to soothe a politically fractured nation, offering an alternative to Mr. Trump’s tumultuous governing style.
A Biden administration faces major challenges in the White House, from containing a coronavirus pandemic that is setting new records for daily infections to restoring a struggling economy.
Mr. Biden’s advisers have been quietly planning for a transition for months, establishing a team of dozens of policy experts who have been tasked with implementing his policy agenda, filling thousands of jobs and ensuring that the former vice president is ready to govern on Jan. 20 when he is scheduled to be sworn into office.
The team launched a website Sunday listing four priorities: response to Covid-19, economic recovery, racial equality and climate change.
On Monday, Mr. Biden is expected to announce a team of health experts and scientists who will advise the transition as it fleshes out the president-elect’s plan for getting the coronavirus pandemic under control in the U.S. as daily cases reach record highs.
His transition advisers have also assembled teams focused on every major government agency—from the State Department to the Environmental Protection Agency—that will draft plans in the coming weeks to put in place key policy commitments the former vice president made on the campaign trail.
The agency review teams will eventually meet with career government officials at the agencies to get up to speed on how the agency operates and what major regulations and initiatives are currently in the pipeline.
In recent weeks, Mr. Biden’s transition team has spent much of its time determining which senior positions to fill first. Past presidents have typically initially focused on national security jobs, but Mr. Biden is expected to announce his cabinet nominees for health and economic positions first, aides said, a reflection of his pledge to quickly address the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic downturn.
The first round of cabinet announcements aren’t expected until later this month, likely during the week of Thanksgiving, a Biden official said, with more coming in December. Mr. Biden is expected to roll out staff for top White House jobs within the next week, an official said.
Veterans of past presidential transitions said it is essential to get a White House chief of staff in place quickly because that person acts as the president-elect’s right hand throughout the transition.
“My advice to a president-elect: Name your chief of staff very, very early. The only staff you can build very, very quickly is the staff at the White House,” said Andy Card, who served as George W. Bush’s chief of staff and worked on his presidential transition.
People close to Mr. Biden expect him to take that advice. A top candidate for the job is Ron Klain, a former White House Ebola czar who was Mr. Biden’s first chief of staff in the Obama administration and a top adviser during the campaign.
Other senior advisers to Mr. Biden, including Steve Ricchetti and Cedric Richmond, are also expected to get jobs in the administration.
Advisers to Mr. Trump said he remained convinced that the election has been taken from him and is in a fighting mood, even though there has been no evidence of widespread voting fraud. They expect Mr. Trump to continue to mount legal challenges, at least for now.
But Mr. Trump’s advisers privately have been urging him to prepare for a loss, according to people familiar with those conversations.
“My guess is that by Monday or Tuesday he’ll be in a place where it’ll be easier” to accept defeat, said a Republican who regularly talks with the president. “He’s down now to just the guys who won’t ever tell him no. But he’s hearing from folks he respects around the country that he needs to let it go.”
“There’s a lot of things he needs to be careful of because he’s got business interests,” this person added. “He can still be the leader of the Republican Party.”
Another close adviser to the president said Mr. Trump “thinks he was robbed. I imagine he is shocked, too. In his psyche he cannot fathom losing. In any event I think he will truly continue to be the dominant force in GOP politics.”
Mr. Biden’s transition has already received some resources from the government in compliance with the law, including office space at the Commerce Department’s headquarters in the Herbert C. Hoover Building in Washington.
However, for Mr. Biden to receive the additional resources set aside for the president-elect—including more government office space, millions of dollars and government email addresses—the General Services Administration, an obscure government agency, has to formally identify him as the winner.
In past elections, the GSA has sent a letter identifying the winner within days of the AP and networks calling the election, long before the results are made official by the Electoral College.
As of Sunday the GSA administrator still hadn’t sent the formal letter and the Biden transition team was publicly urging the formalization.
Several names have come up repeatedly for cabinet posts, including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.), two allies of Mr. Biden’s, are said to be interested in serving as secretary of state. Tony Blinken, Mr. Biden’s longtime foreign-policy adviser, is also being discussed for the position.
Michele Flournoy, a former senior Obama administration Defense Department official, is seen as a top candidate to lead the Pentagon in what would be a barrier-breaking pick. Allies of former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, an Afghanistan war veteran and one of Mr. Biden’s primary rivals, have promoted him as a potential U.N. ambassador or Veterans Affairs secretary.
Mr. Biden’s aides are cognizant of the impact that the balance of Republican and Democrats in the Senate will have on his ability to confirm his nominees. If Republicans maintain Senate control, that could prompt Mr. Biden to choose more centrist nominees.
The Biden transition will ultimately need to fill in roughly 4,000 jobs in a new administration. There are already plenty of people who are interested. Ahead of the election, allies and aides to Mr. Biden were bombarded with calls, texts and emails from Democrats pitching themselves for positions within a potential administration.
Officials who have worked on transitions before say Mr. Biden needs to proceed as normal given the short time frame before he takes the White House.
“The clock doesn’t stop ticking on you, and even if you’ve got recounts going on in various states or ongoing disputes about the presidential election, you still have an administration to prepare for on Jan. 20 and you don’t get any extra days in the calendar,” said Michael Toner, who was general counsel for Mr. Bush’s transition.
Mr. Toner said even as the 2000 election was being disputed until mid-December, Mr. Bush’s transition team was working as if he was the president-elect by vetting members of his future cabinet before the race was called.
However, Mr. Biden will have something Mr. Bush didn’t: Updated legislation that formalizes the transition process and offers government resources. The Biden transition team has a deep understanding of the transition rules because former Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman, who is heading up Mr. Biden’s team, helped write one of the laws.
World Leaders Welcome Biden Win As They Seek Reset In U.S. Ties
World leaders welcomed Joe Biden’s election win with many hoping the Democratic U.S. president-elect will spur a reset in ties, bringing a renewed focus on global issues like climate change and a more collaborative response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In his four years as president, Donald Trump upended decades of accepted American foreign policy. He criticized longstanding allies in Europe, withdrew from international agreements and organizations, and set aside human rights concerns to cultivate ties with more authoritarian leaders in Saudi Arabia, Hungary and Turkey.
Biden has promised a more multilateral approach. Even so, he’s expected to continue a tougher line on trade and will need to balance public sentiment at home, which is for America to stop shouldering so much of the burden for global defense.
Here’s A Roundup Of The Key Reactions Around The World:
Chancellor Angela Merkel said she looked forward to working with Biden. “Our transatlantic friendship is indispensable if we are to face the greatest challenges of our time,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter by her spokesman.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called for a fresh start for transatlantic ties — what he called a “New Deal.”
“Joe Biden made clear during the campaign that he sees the global strength of the U.S. in team play and not going it alone. We also want the west to play as a team again,” Maas said in a statement. “Only that way can we make our common values felt in the world, only then can we have the necessary clout.”
China is likely to face a stronger stance from the U.S. under Biden on human rights issues and for its crackdown on Hong Kong. But state media focused mostly on Trump, rather than Biden. Trump has made repeated references to voter fraud, without providing significant evidence, and has said he plans to fight on via the courts.
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-run Global Times, said Trump’s actions could continue to reverberate, including for ties with China. Biden won’t be sworn in until late January.
“Given his unique personality, and mobilization capability that other defeated candidates don’t have, if he rejects this result and sticks to this attitude to the end, it will have far-reaching impact,” Hu said on Twitter. In a separate post on Weibo, Hu said China “needs to get in touch with Biden’s team to explore the possibility of getting rid of extreme turbulence in the China-U.S. relationship.”
President Tsai Ing-wen said she looked forward to further “friendship” with the U.S. “The values on which we have built our relationship could not be stronger,” she said in a tweet. Beijing considers the democratically-run island part of its territory.
While Tsai’s party has more in common with Biden on environmental and social issues, he has for decades advocated for “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan, seeking to minimize the risk of a direct conflict with China. Under Trump, the U.S. approved billions of dollars in armed sales to Taiwan.
There’s been no official reaction from President Vladimir Putin. His spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment. Four years ago, Putin sent Trump his congratulations within hours of U.S. television networks calling the result.
Opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who is in Germany recovering from a near-fatal poisoning attack, did weigh in:
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who developed a rapport with Trump, called the U.S. “our closest and most important ally,” a situation he said would not change under a Biden presidency. He cited climate change, trade and international security as key priorities. The U.K. will need a trade deal with the U.S. as it exits European Union arrangements under Brexit.
“I think that there is far more that unites the government of this country and government in Washington any time, any stage, than divides us,” Johnson told the Associated Press.
Iran And The Middle East
President Hassan Rouhani called on Biden to make amends with the Islamic Republic after the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy.
“An opportunity for the future government of the U.S. has arisen for it to compensate for its past mistakes and to return to respecting global norms and the path of commitment to its international obligations,” Rouhani said, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.
The Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord and imposed sweeping sanctions to try to force Tehran to accept a tougher deal that also limits its missile program and ambitions in the Middle East. Biden has indicated he may seek to rejoin the pact.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who arguably was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Trump administration’s foreign policy, took longer than some of his Middle Eastern counterparts in congratulating Biden. He first tweeted he was looking forward to working with Biden and Harris, before thanking Trump in a separate post for his friendship.
Trump repeatedly broke with U.S. precedent to boost Netanyahu’s nationalist agenda, recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights and moving the American embassy to Jerusalem.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed, issued a brief statement of congratulations on Sunday night via the official Saudi Press Agency. The king noted close historical ties between the countries and wished Americans “further progress and prosperity,” SPA said.
There was no comment so far from Turkey. Both Ankara and Riyadh had cozy ties with Trump and may face greater scrutiny under a Biden administration, including by Congress.
The president of Iraq, Emir of Qatar and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed all sent well wishes to Biden.
Egyptian President Abdel-Fatty El-Sisi, the first foreign leader to call and congratulate Trump in 2016, said he was “looking forward to working and cooperating with the new president-elect.” Egypt will likely face more of the traditional American scolding over human rights once Biden takes office.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had an at-times prickly relationship with Trump, including on trade, spoke of the “extraordinary relationship” between the countries in his statement congratulating Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
“We will further build on this foundation as we continue to keep our people safe and healthy from the impacts of the global Covid-19 pandemic, and work to advance peace and inclusion, economic prosperity, and climate action around the world,” he said.
Mexican leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who struck up a close relationship with Trump, held off his congratulatory message, saying the process is not over and votes are still being counted. “We don’t want to be imprudent,” he said at a briefing.
President Emmanuel Macron called on the incoming American administration to “work together” with France. “We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges,” he said on Twitter.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Biden a “strong supporter” of the defense grouping, which found itself under fire from Trump for insufficient contributions from member states aside from America.
“A strong NATO is good for North America and good for Europe,” he said in a statement. “We need this collective strength to deal with the many challenges we face, including a more assertive Russia, international terrorism, cyber and missile threats, and a shift in the global balance of power with the rise of China.”
Commission chief Ursula Von Der Leyen said a renewed partnership was of particular importance given current global issues including the Covid-19 pandemic.
India and Asia
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi focused on Harris as a source of pride for Indian-Americans, calling the incoming vice president “pathbreaking.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke of “shared values” in the U.S.-Australia alliance as he congratulated Biden and Harris. The U.S. has sought to enlist countries in Asia to counter China’s military and economic clout. Australia has found itself increasingly in China’s cross-hairs also on trade.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga spoke of strengthening the U.S.-Japan alliance under Biden; Trump had periodically mused about forcing Japan to pay more for the American troops housed on its soil. — Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) November
Leaders Slowest To Congratulate Biden May Be His Biggest Worries
While congratulations have flowed in from around the world for Democrat Joe Biden in his victory over Republican President Donald Trump, some world leaders have been conspicuously quiet.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are among the heads of state who still haven’t sent warm wishes to Biden more than a day after he claimed victory and promised a return to a more values-based foreign policy. That silence says as much about the diplomatic challenges facing Biden as it does the unconventional approach of Trump.
Here Are Some Of Those Who Haven’t Spoken Up So Far:
The populist leader of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, has been referred to as the “Trump of the Tropics” and has previously said he hoped that the U.S. president would get re-elected. At an event on Nov. 7, Bolsonaro made some brief comments on the U.S. and foreign policy, but didn’t comment specifically on Biden’s victory.
“We pay attention to foreign policy, we have our preferences, and what happens abroad matters to each one of us here,” he said. “I am not the most important person in Brazil, just as Trump is not the most important person in the world, as he has said himself.”
Xi, who issued a statement congratulating Trump the day of his victory speech in 2016, is likely seeking to avoid the wrath of a U.S. leader who is still contesting the outcome. While English-language state media outlets struck a hopeful tone, strategic rivalry between the two nations is expected to continue under Biden.
Chinese government advisers expect the Biden administration to push back against China’s growing assertiveness and team up with allies to confront Beijing over the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang and its crackdown on Hong Kong. The U.S. is likely to continue pursuing closer ties with Taiwan, considered the most sensitive bilateral issue between the world’s two largest economies.
Xi’s silence contrasted with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen, who quickly congratulated Biden with a tweet, reflecting that the “values on which we have built our relationship could not be stronger.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters Saturday that he doesn’t want to be “imprudent” about congratulating Biden. “I want to wait until the electoral process is finished,” he said, even as the peso rose with traders betting Biden would be better for Mexican exports.
Despite Trump campaigning on building a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border and blaming the government in Mexico City for the flow of Central American migrants toward the U.S. border, Trump has called his relationship with Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, “incredible,” and the two seem to enjoy friendly ties cemented by the Mexican president’s efforts to stop Central American migration and willingness to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. AMLO was one of the few leaders to trek to DC in the middle of the pandemic to meet Trump in person, flying commercial to do so.
Few world leaders have benefited from Trump more than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who’s had three summits with the U.S. President since June 2018 that altered the course of the relationship — from an exchange of insults to a strange friendship characterized by handshakes and warm letters. Yet North Korea, which for decades has presented some of the most difficult security challenges for the occupant of the White House, is likely to remain silent on the results of the U.S. presidential election.
A search through its state media from 1996 shows it’s made no mention about the winner of the vote in the days following an election. That doesn’t mean Pyongyang is ignoring what’s going on. The North Korean regime has a history stretching back decades of timing provocations around U.S. elections to grab maximum attention, according to an analysis by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’s Beyond Parallel.
No foreign leader loomed quite as large over Trump’s time in office as Putin. Trump was persistently dogged by allegations that his successful 2016 campaign for the presidency benefited from the help of Russian intelligence and a state-sponsored disinformation campaign. Trump’s refusal to condemn Putin drove his domestic critics to fury, even as Russia’s geopolitical ambition ran contrary to U.S. strategy from Ukraine in Eastern Europe to Syria and the Middle East.
Now, Russia could face a return to a more confrontational U.S. approach under Biden. Opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who’s in Germany recovering from a near-fatal poisoning attack, spoke out on the U.S. election before Putin, saying elections were “a privilege which is not available to all countries.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday that Putin will “wait for the official tabulation of the results” before congratulating the winner, adding that no final outcome had been declared yet.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has benefited enormously from Trump’s unconventional approach to the Middle East, as well as the war in Syria. And so while Turkey on Sunday congratulated the West African nation of Guinea on its election, Erdogan has yet to send his regards to Biden as Trump continues to complain, without evidence, that the election was stolen. Erdogan has so far evaded sanctions for Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense missile system.
He convinced Trump to pull U.S. troops out of Kurdish areas in Northern Syria — a move that shocked many military observers and allowed Turkey to send its own forces into the zone. “President Erdogan — He’s tough, but I get along with him,” Trump said in 2019. Biden, who has previously called for the U.S. to support Turkish opposition parties, could end up enforcing sanctions on Erdogan.
The Five Things Biden Must Do To Repair The Harm Trump Has Done
The president-elect must begin to build a modern, expert-led civil service and bring talent back into the executive branch.
Typically, the start of a presidential administration is filled with expectation. Victorious campaign staffers arrive in Washington to claim jobs at federal agencies. Lobbyists commandeer hotel ballrooms for breakfast buffets with incoming power brokers. Magazines assign fashion photographers to do shoots of the West Wing’s newest inhabitants.
The mood won’t be quite so heady this time. When Joe Biden takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, 2021, he will inherit the gravest national crisis faced by any new president in the past 75 years. Though a vaccine for the coronavirus may be ready for initial use, infections are likely to remain rampant as Americans endure a winter crowded indoors.
Tens of millions will remain out of work, and many children may not have returned to the classroom. Members of the new president’s own staff may be forced to work remotely for months, even as they begin taking action on policy priorities ranging from health care and climate change to trade and nuclear arms control.
Then there’s a less obvious but perhaps even more daunting challenge: rebuilding the government after four years of Donald Trump, whose assault on the “administrative state” has demoralized federal workers and chased away thousands of career civil servants—the very specialists best suited to help the country find a way out of its current morass.
America’s calamitous pandemic response has exposed the costs of Trump’s war on expertise. “We’ve got a number of broken agencies that desperately need repair,” says Paul Light, a professor of public service at New York University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Biden’s half-century of experience in Washington, including eight years in the executive branch, makes him uniquely qualified to lead the reconstruction project.
Depoliticizing federal agencies, restoring the morale of government workers, and strengthening accountability for political officials will be among his immediate priorities—but Biden should also seize the opportunity to push through long-overdue reforms to make the government more nimble and dynamic. In the spirit of candidate Biden’s campaign slogan, here are five imperatives to “build back better.”
1. Empower The Scientists
On Nov. 9, the president-elect announced the creation of a council of advisers on coronavirus, made up of prominent physicians, infectious-disease experts and former federal public-health officials. By elevating scientific voices, Biden sent an important signal of change. Among all of the Trump administration’s failures in handling the pandemic, none has proved more corrosive than its undermining of government scientists, notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease specialist.
White House officials have exerted pressure on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration to influence public-health guidance and to speed up therapeutic-drug trials and the pace of vaccine approval.
Trump has personally defied medical professionals and spread false information about testing, Covid-19 fatality rates, and alleged “cures” for the disease. The effect has been to heighten mistrust on all sides about public-health officials’ pronouncements, which in turn makes it even harder to defeat the pandemic.
“These organizations, the CDC and the FDA, were once the envy of the rest of the world,” says Ali Nouri, president of the Federation of American Scientists. The “gold-standard” agencies “have now become politicized under Donald Trump. That’s done great harm that will take a long time to repair.”
The erosion of the government’s scientific knowledge base extends beyond agencies focused on the pandemic. The administration has marginalized career employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which collects data related to climate change, and replaced the agency’s top scientist with a climate change denier.
It’s forced dozens of top scientists out of government, including the head of mineral resources research at the U.S. Geological Survey and the archaeologist at the National Park Service who was responsible for protecting historic public sites from the effects of climate change.
A May 2020 survey by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative found that because of budget cuts and “neglectful and disdainful treatment of career staff” at the Environmental Protection Agency, more than one-quarter of those with relevant expertise in environmental science had left the agency since 2016.
The exodus of government scientists will hamper the nation’s ability to respond to pandemics and climate-related natural disasters. Biden can start to undo the damage by coaxing departed experts to return to government—in part by taking advantage of one of Trump’s more sensible reforms, which allows agencies to rehire former federal workers at a higher pay grade.
The new administration should also reinstate hundreds of advisory committees Trump eliminated, Nouri says, and combat the spread of scientific disinformation on social media, which is contributing to the worsening of the pandemic.
“The next administration really needs to establish a central infrastructure to fight health-related and specifically Covid-19-related disinformation, because we know that disinformation is killing people,” he says.
Restoring public confidence in scientific authorities will be crucial to the task of distributing a Covid vaccine, the success of which may determine the course of Biden’s presidency. “When the vaccine is approved, people will need to know how safe it is,” says Paul Weinstein, a professor of public management at Johns Hopkins University and former Clinton administration official.
“The government should focus on transparency. People should be able to see the data. How all of that is managed is going to be critical. If you run the process well, you can go a long way to rebuilding public trust in government.”
2. Bring Back The Career Staff
The hollowing out of scientific expertise is emblematic of a wider crisis. Across the entire federal bureaucracy, Trump’s push to discredit, marginalize, and remove career employees has been ruthlessly effective.
During the first year of his administration alone, the attrition rate among members of the Senior Executive Service—the government’s most experienced employees—climbed 82%. Compared with previous presidents, Trump has installed a disproportionate number of his own appointees into leadership roles in key agencies, at the expense of qualified civil servants.
At the U.S. Department of State, all assistant secretary of state positions are currently occupied by acting officials or political appointees; more than half of ambassadorships are held by political appointees, rather than career diplomats, nearly double the average rate of previous administrations.
In addition to hurting staff morale, Trump’s reliance on loyalists has caused institutional instability. According to a Brookings Institution study, the Trump administration has seen a 91% turnover in the most influential executive branch jobs, more than any of its five most recent predecessors.
The leadership chaos and sidelining of experienced staff have accelerated government breakdowns under Trump, from the shambolic response to Hurricane Maria in 2017 to immigration policies that have left more than 500 children separated from their parents for close to three years, and now Covid. At the start of the pandemic, more than half of the 70 highest-ranking positions involved in the response were either unfilled or occupied by acting officials.
Brookings’s Light says high-profile federal debacles have become more common over the past 30 years in part because of the increase in transient, underqualified political appointees filling important policymaking roles. The U.S. now has at least 4,000 executive branch jobs reserved for political appointees—double the number in the 1980s and far more than in any other advanced democracy.
Biden should consciously reverse that trend, Light says. “There’s always pent-up demand for appointments, and this administration will be no different. It’s a perfectly reasonable instinct to put your people in charge. But you’ve got to avoid the temptation to match Trump pound for pound in terms of political appointees.”
Max Stier, head of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, points to Fauci as the embodiment of the kind of public servant whom Biden should entrust with greater decision-making responsibilities.
“If you really want to reform the government, you need to have good ideas, but you also need to execute them effectively,” Stier says. “The career workforce is not the enemy—in fact, it’s the starting point.”
3. Let The Watchdogs Do Their Work
Among the most fateful early decisions confronting the new president will be whether to investigate his predecessor or hold him accountable by some other means, such as a Sept. 11-style truth commission. Regardless of how Biden chooses to handle allegations against Trump, he should take steps to strengthen rules around financial disclosure and transparency and reinforce norms against using the levers of government for personal gain.
“There’s so much distrust of everything,” says Weinstein, the former Clinton official. “It’s going to be important for Biden to say, ‘There are a set of rules. We’re going to follow those rules, and we’re going to enforce them.’ And that includes defining and reinforcing the correct role of the White House in relationship to the federal agencies.”
The new administration should make clear that it will submit to rigorous oversight from Congress and watchdogs inside and outside the government. It can endorse legislation backed by congressional Democrats that would expand whistleblower protections for federal workers and protect them against retaliation if they file Freedom of Information Act requests in an effort to expose misconduct.
Also critical will be reinvigorating the offices of federal inspectors general, the independent watchdogs that probe and publicize cases of official waste, fraud, and abuse. Earlier this year, Trump fired the IGs at four different agencies without giving Congress 30 days’ notice or a written explanation, as required by law.
As a first step, Biden can call on the new Congress to hold hearings on the motives for Trump’s dismissal of the IGs. He should then reinstate the watchdogs and allow them to resume their work.
4. Modernize The Government
The 2 million-person federal government has actually grown slightly under Trump, but it’s reached senescence. Only 6% of workers are under the age of 30, whereas 44% are 50 or older. One-third of employees will be eligible for retirement in 2023, and the figure is twice as high for members of the Senior Executive Service.
Meanwhile, agencies are struggling to recruit younger talent to fill their needs. Eighty-three percent of federal departments report staffing shortages, and 63% say their employees lack critical skills, according to the Partnership for Public Service.
This crisis, brewing for years, won’t be solved simply by changing the occupant in the Oval Office. Experts such as Stier point to the government’s flawed hiring process, which relies on a cumbersome, opaque job-posting system.
Even if job hunters figure out how to submit their applications successfully, it takes an average of 100 days to receive a government job offer, more than twice as long as in the private sector. And once inside the bureaucracy, younger workers find inadequate mentorship and support, leading to high rates of attrition.
Where to begin? Streamlining background checks, expanding internship programs, and recruiting on college campuses—even virtually—can help agencies attract younger talent.
So would fixing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which promises student-debt relief for those who pursue careers in government yet is so rife with complexities that only 1% of those eligible for loan forgiveness actually receive it.
The scale of the challenges facing the new administration will require systemic organizational change. “We have a legacy government that hasn’t kept pace with the world around it, whether you’re talking about pandemics or cyberattacks or economic meltdowns,” Stier says.
“We should understand that this is the world we’re in. And what we know is these problems won’t slow down; if anything, they’ll accelerate and proliferate.”
Effectively dealing with emerging threats requires a different kind of workforce, one that’s more agile and digitally native and draws on private-sector expertise while reflecting the country’s diversity. “What you need is a much deeper shift in mindset,” says Anne-Marie Slaughter, chief executive officer of New America, a Washington think tank, and former head of policy planning at the State Department.
“We need to go from operating like a 20th century corporation, with this vast org chart with different areas of responsibility, to something more like a consulting firm, where you have teams of experts from across the government that come together to form and re-form.”
Slaughter thinks Biden should work with Congress to reform the country’s diplomatic corps, allowing foreign service officers to work in the private sector and opening up opportunities for Americans with specialized skills to do short-term assignments overseas. “We have to be able to tap the full range of talent in our society to tackle the global issues we face,” she says. “And asking people to sign up for 30-year careers is just not going to do that.”
A model Biden can look to is the U.S. Digital Service, created by President Obama to rescue one of his biggest administrative failures: the botched rollout of healthcare.gov.
Made up of technology industry veterans recruited for two-year tours in Washington, the agency has worked to improve the delivery of government services, saving taxpayers $3.5 billion over five years—one reason it’s received consistent backing from the Trump White House and Republicans in Congress. Investing in an expansion of USDS, and applying the lessons of its success, would be a strong signal of Biden’s commitment to innovation, with the added virtue of drawing support from both sides of the aisle.
5. Rejoin The World
The most complex reconstruction job awaiting Biden is one he’s focused on for much of his campaign: repairing America’s global image and rallying like-minded countries to come together to solve common challenges. But the international landscape will look much different than it did four years ago, when Biden departed the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory for the last time.
Trump’s hostility to multilateral organizations and disdain for traditional alliances have left the U.S. more isolated and less influential than it’s been in decades. To deal with intensifying geopolitical conflict, the threat of nuclear proliferation, and the emergence of a more assertive China, the U.S. will need to shore up its relationships around the world. Yet even among America’s allies, any assurances Biden provides will be treated with wariness after the volatility of the Trump years.
“I don’t think the world is ready [for the U.S.] to simply say, ‘We’re back.’ We’re going to have to be back in a different mode,” Slaughter says. “It will be relatively easy to reactivate relationships. The question is, how are we going to lead? And the answer can’t just focus on how the U.S. government is going to lead, but how we lead along with a number of other countries—as well as our industries, our universities, our scientific establishment.”
Biden has pledged to rejoin a range of international bodies and agreements cast aside by Trump, including the World Health Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Paris climate accord. He should also reverse Trump’s decision not to participate in Covax, the global Covid-vaccine purchasing pool that 180 countries, including China, have joined. Doing so is not just in the interest of global health but would benefit American consumers by giving them access to vaccines developed in other countries.
This underscores a reality that’s likely to remain true for the foreseeable future: If the country is going to get itself out of this mess, it’s going to need to ask for help. Learning to accept the limits of American power is the first step toward recovering it.
Bidenomics: What Middle-Class Joe Means For Business And The Economy
President-elect Biden will probably bring a less confrontational tone on trade, a return to the Paris climate accord, and help for Americans who aren’t rich.
President-elect Joe Biden will take office in January facing a pandemic, a vulnerable economy, a divided Congress, and a solid portion of the electorate that’s been convinced by President Trump that the election was stolen.
What will he do—better yet, what can he do? He can’t claim a mandate for the Democrats’ progressive campaign platform: The race was close and was mainly a referendum on Trump’s personality, not the Democrats’ agenda.
By nature Biden is a healer and a bridge-builder, not a change agent. And if he does push to enact his party’s most ambitious ideas, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the likely Senate majority leader, will stand in the way.
The new configuration in Washington could be good for corporate profits, but not necessarily for the economy. Stocks shot up Nov. 4 and 5 as investors appeared to bet that McConnell would prevent Democrats from enacting a big increase in the corporate income tax rate. (Trump’s 2017 tax cuts reduced the corporate rate to 21% from 35%; Biden wants to take back half of the cut, raising the rate to 28%.)
On the other hand, a big new coronavirus relief package is less likely than if Democrats had taken the Senate, which still appears to be a long shot. That will weigh on economic growth in 2021.
Biden will try to repair trade relations with allies that Trump sundered with such ill-advised gambits as tariffs on their products in the name of U.S. national security.
He will rejoin the Paris climate accord, but, to the consternation of his green supporters, he says he won’t try to shut down fracking for shale oil and natural gas or adopt the liberals’ Green New Deal. He may step up antitrust enforcement, which would be bad for the targets of government lawsuits but potentially good for their smaller rivals.
Biden’s earliest priority must and will be getting a grip on the Covid‑19 pandemic. For business, Trump’s greatest failing was to prioritize economic growth over human lives by playing down the coronavirus.
That had the unintended consequence of harming both lives and livelihoods: Businesses ranging from restaurants to airlines are in worse shape than they would have been if the administration had combated the virus earlier and more aggressively. (Even after being hospitalized, Trump continues to brush off mask-wearing.)
None of this is particularly controversial. True, Trump struck a chord with his base, especially in South Florida, when he said Biden “has handed control to the socialists and Marxists and left-wing extremists like his vice presidential candidate.”
But the accusation didn’t ring true with a majority of voters, including some crossover Republicans, who sense that Biden is a moderate and that his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris of California, while unabashedly liberal, is a team player. Among Biden’s most trusted aides are holdovers from the Obama administration such as Bruce Reed, Tony Blinken, Jake Sullivan, and Anita Dunn. Not a socialist in the bunch.
Liberals say the perception that Obama saved the banks in 2008 and 2009 while letting homeowners go bust sowed the seeds of Trumpism. “One of the things Democrats have learned is that unless there is real change, that working people really do feel a difference, we would be setting the stage for another Trump.
A different Trump, but another Trump,” says Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “It is really important that economic growth is more broadly shared, so it doesn’t just go to the top 1%.”
There’s an unwritten rule in journalism that an article about the winner of a presidential election really ought to contain the phrase “now comes the hard part.” So: For Biden, now comes the hard part. He walked into a mess the last time he entered the White House, in 2009, but he was merely the veep, and the challenge was a recession, not an implacable virus.
The country is more divided now. Problems that once loomed in the future, like climate change, are right up in our faces. A heavy weight is settling onto shoulders that will be 78 years old in January.
Biden and his team would do well to study closely the Trump administration—not just for what it got wrong, but for what it got right. Before the pandemic hit, the U.S. economy was running strong, corporate profits were high, and unemployment rates were at half-century lows. A year ago the jobless rate for Black men touched 5.1%, the lowest since monthly record keeping began in 1972.
That’s what economists call a “high-pressure economy.” When their preferred hiring pool runs dry, employers reach deeper into the well of available workers. Whether a Republican or a Democrat is in the White House, strong economic growth is the most powerful force for equal opportunity.
Democrats argue that the Trump expansion was merely a continuation of Obama’s, but that’s not entirely fair. The unemployment rate is like a spring—easier to compress when it’s high than when it’s already been pushed down. An overall rate of 3.5%, the level as recently as February, is an undeniable success.
While Trump doesn’t deserve all the credit, the tax cut he signed in December 2017 did contribute to the growth spurt by leaving more money in the pockets of Americans of all income levels (though the rich got the biggest breaks) and reducing the taxation of corporate income.
Democrats agree that a tax cut was needed. Their complaint is that the 2017 bill showered too many of the benefits on rich individuals and big companies. Biden wants to eliminate the cuts for individuals earning more than $400,000 a year and raise the corporate income tax rate.
Presidents come into office intending to set the agenda, but the stream of history finds its own channel. “It’s very hard to get things done when you’re president even if you have a lot of political capital,” says Glenn Hubbard, a Columbia economics professor who was chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2001 to 2003.
That said, Trump did get a lot done, and though he’ll be remembered as the king of chaos, much of his agenda was conventionally Republican. His team managed to push deregulation of everything from internet privacy to nursing homes. They won support for reform of federal sentencing guidelines—a rare bipartisan measure.
They gained Senate confirmation of three conservative Supreme Court justices and more than 200 other federal judges. They raised military spending, reduced environmental protections, throttled back immigration and asylum—particularly from Muslim nations—streamlined drug approval, and eliminated the tax penalty for not having health insurance.
Trump wasn’t able to achieve everything he wanted. Only a fraction of the promised border wall is built, and Mexico isn’t paying for it. U.S. troops are still in Afghanistan. There’s been no big infrastructure bill, even though both parties say they want one.
And he’s promised a “phenomenal” replacement for the Affordable Care Act so many times without delivering, it’s become a standing joke even among fellow Republicans.
Roughly speaking, the Trump term started strong and finished weak. “I would say that some of the biggest positive effect he had was literally right at the beginning,” when “businesspeople picked up their animal spirits,” says Hubbard.
He says Trump was correct to push China harder than his predecessors had done but erred by trying to do it alone, pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks and then levying steel and aluminum tariffs not only on China but also on Canada, Mexico, and Europe.
Hubbard gives Trump especially poor marks for his response this year to the economic damage done by the pandemic. He says the White House left it to Congress to draft the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, poorly executed the Paycheck Protection Program, and quixotically pushed for a postponement of payroll tax deductions that big employers largely ignored.
Biden won’t find things any easier. First there’s the struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party, which will be waged from door to door in the West Wing. Then there’s Republican opposition, especially assuming Republicans keep control of the Senate. McConnell said in 2010, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” and he hasn’t gotten more cooperative since.
Biden, a longtime senator with deep respect for the body’s traditions, seems unlikely to push for killing the filibuster.
Biden promises to reverse Trump’s visa restrictions, reinstate protections against housing discrimination that Trump suspended, toughen gun laws, and build on Obamacare by adding a public health insurance option.
But he isn’t that far apart from Trump on some other key issues, including rebuilding the U.S. manufacturing base and relations with China, which may be the most important matter for the U.S., foreign or domestic, for years to come. “If you close your eyes when Biden’s talking about China it could be Trump,” says Hubbard.
There are differences, to be sure: Biden will likely be more predictable than Trump with respect to China and work through established multilateral organizations, such as the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. On the other hand, he will almost certainly confront China on human-rights issues—in its Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, for one—that were of little interest to Trump.
Biden’s first test, even before taking office, will be his ability to help congressional Democrats cut a deal with the GOP on coronavirus relief. He doesn’t want to take the oath of office in January with the economy in shambles.
On Nov. 4, Bloomberg Economics estimated that if Biden won, the relief package would amount to $2 trillion with a Democrat-controlled Senate but only $500 billion with a Senate that remained in control of the opposition party (which appears to be the case). Divided government is never easy.
Then again, if all Biden manages in four years is to bring back a measure of civility and decency and restore the ordinary functions of government, that would be enough for many who voted for him. On March 4, 1865, with the Civil War winding down, President Lincoln vowed in his second inaugural address to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” That should be Joe Biden’s aspiration as well.
Here’s What Biden Could Change Just By Executive Order
Expected orders would affect health care, the energy sector, travel and more.
As people and markets around the world brace for Joe Biden’s move into the White House, a key factor is what the veteran Democratic politician could accomplish without having to work with Congress.
Biden is widely expected to make use of executive orders that affect health care XLV, 0.48%, the energy sector XLE, 2.33% and other areas.
“Biden will presumably be at least as active in issuing Executive Orders as was President Obama, or President Trump for that matter,” said James Lucier, an analyst and managing director at Capital Alpha Partners, in a note.
Below are some preliminary expectations around such orders or related executive actions.
Biden looks poised to sign an order once in office that puts the U.S. back in the World Health Organization, reversing President Donald Trump’s efforts to cut ties with the WHO during the coronavirus pandemic.
The former vice president pledged last month during the campaign to require facemasks in all federal buildings and on “interstate transportation,” as part of his approach to fight COVID-19.
He also has promised to step up White House use of the Defense Production Act for manufacturing critical products, including personal protective equipment and other medical gear.
Climate Change And Energy
Biden has said he will have the U.S. rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, a voluntary global pact that takes aim at climate change.
That expected move on the Paris deal tops the graphic below that was tweeted out by Rapidan Energy Group’s director of business and content development, Leslie Hayward.
The graphic also highlights how a Biden administration could block drilling for oil and gas XOP, 2.82% on federal lands, restore California’s authority to set automobile standards for fuel economy and emissions, and restrict the fossil-fuel industry’s access to lower-cost financing.
The former vice president said at last month’s debate that he would stop giving federal subsidies to the oil industry.
Biden is expected to scrap Trump’s travel ban targeting some Muslim-majority nations, as well as bring back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA lets “dreamers” — people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children — stay in the country.
The Trump administration earlier this year said it will reject new DACA applications and shorten renewal periods after the Supreme Court refused to let the program be scrapped completely.
In addition, Biden has promised an executive order that would establish a task force that aims to reunite with their parents the 500-plus children separated at the border from their moms and dads.
Biden could increase the minimum wage for workers on federal contracts through an executive order.
He is expected to jettison the “Mexico City Policy,” which requires that foreign organizations certify that they will not “perform or actively promote abortion” if they receive U.S. taxpayer money. The policy has been a political football, tossed out by Democratic presidents and picked up by Republicans.
Biden is also viewed as on track to deliver an executive order that promotes diversity and inclusion in the federal government, and he’s promised to set up a White House Council on Gender Equality.
In addition, he has pledged to establish a federal right to union organizing for all public-sector employees, saying he would do that by fighting for key legislation and signing it into law.
Biden is expected to push in some way for some forgiveness of student loans, having called during his White House campaign for the cancellation of a minimum of $10,000 in such loans per borrower while also proposing other programs that target student debt.
Attorneys from Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending argued in a September letter that the executive branch has the authority to cancel student debt.
Biden Selects Long-Time Aide Ron Klain As Chief Of Staff
President-elect Joe Biden named long-time aide Ron Klain, who played a leading role during the economic and public health crises of the Obama administration, as his White House chief of staff.
Klain will manage the incoming White House through a pandemic that is surging across the country, once again filling hospital beds and threatening the economy. Biden has said that bringing the coronavirus outbreak under control will be his top priority.
White House chief of staff has long been one of the most powerful jobs in Washington. The person is the gatekeeper for the president, deciding who gets to speak with him and who doesn’t, and is often one of the last advisers in the room before major decisions. It’s generally one of the first jobs that a president-elect fills, setting the tone for a new administration.
“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again,” Biden said of Klain in a statement announcing the appointment. Klain called the appointment “the honor of a lifetime.”
Klain twice served as chief of staff to vice presidents — Biden at the beginning of the Obama presidency and Al Gore at the end of Bill Clinton’s administration. He also has experience on Capitol Hill that could prove important as the new administration contends with a potential Republican majority in the Senate.
Klain’s experience with Biden on implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, and his role leading the federal government’s response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic, will be relevant to the work that the new administration will face in tackling the coronavirus and the resulting economic downturn.
Klain has maintained good relationships among Democrats, and some had campaigned against another candidate for the job, Biden adviser Steve Ricchetti. Ricchetti is expected to be tapped for a senior adviser role in the Biden White House.
Klain was a natural choice for Biden. He has the president-elect’s trust and more pertinent experience than anyone else who might have been considered for the post, people familiar with Biden’s considerations said.
His relationship with Biden goes back more than three decades, to his first, short-lived 1987 presidential campaign, and he was chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee when Biden was the committee chair.
He’s also been a key campaign adviser, not just on the coronavirus, but in preparing Biden for his campaign debates.
President Barack Obama’s selection of Rahm Emanuel in 2008 signaled that he expected to brawl with Capitol Hill, while President Donald Trump’s pick of former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus in 2016 was intended to create a bridge to the GOP establishment from an unconventional president-elect.
Of all the things Trump changed about the American presidency, the role of chief of staff was one of the biggest. He’s had four of them.
Priebus lasted about six months after a stormy tenure in which Trump resisted his efforts to control him and the flow of people and information into and out of the Oval Office. Former Marine General and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly replaced Priebus and lasted another six months, working to bring more stability to the White House.
He’s since become openly critical of Trump. Former Representative Mick Mulvaney held the job in an acting position for a little more than year, and was replaced at the start of the coronavirus pandemic by Mark Meadows, another former congressman. Meadows tested positive for Covid-19 last week.
Biden is expected to restore the role to its historic duties of gatekeeper, enforcer and top adviser, one early signal of how his presidency will hew more closely to tradition.
Klain was Biden’s chief of staff from 2009 to 2011, when he helped the then-vice president lead the Obama administration’s oversight of the $800 billion effort aimed at pulling the U.S. out of a severe economic downturn.
As Biden’s team prepares for new economic stimulus measures potentially in the trillions of dollars, Klain said he would draw on what he learned a decade ago.
“We need a plan that’s as big as the problem we have,” he said in an interview earlier this year. “These challenges that we faced in 2009 and 2010, they’re back again — they never went away — they’re back again with greater emphasis, and his experience doing that makes him well-positioned to put these issues front and center today.”
Klain was the Obama administration’s Ebola response coordinator in late 2014 and early 2015. The deadly virus infected only 11 people in the U.S., but its ability to spread ignited a federal response.
While the choice initially drew criticism because of his lack of public health experience, Klain got strong marks for his management of the levers of government. The administration also benefited from an outbreak that was far more contained than Covid-19.
There’s only been one public rift between Biden and Klain. In 2015, Klain signed onto Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign before it was clear that Biden was going to sit out the race. One person close to Biden said the former vice president has moved past any hard feelings.
Biden Fills Economic Posts With Experts On Systemic Racism
Previous administrations haven’t made race scholarship such a clear priority.
When it comes to economic policy, President-elect Joe Biden is putting racial disparities high on the agenda as he assembles his administration.
The incoming president tapped Mehrsa Baradaran, whose book “The Color of Money” is a key reference on the racial wealth gap, to prepare the Treasury Department for the transition. She’s joined by Lisa Cook, an economist at Michigan State University, on the “landing team” for the Federal Reserve and banking and securities regulators. They are among more than 500 experts who will focus on race as they shape Biden’s policies on issues like housing, health and small-business lending. Baradaran declined to comment, and Cook referred questions to the Biden team.
Observers say they’ve never seen expertise about race figure so prominently in economic roles.
“It’s an incredible signal to the Black community,” said Anna Gifty Opoku-Agyeman, co-founder of the Sadie Collective, a nonprofit working to get more Black women in economics. “This administration is going to be focused on thinking about: ‘How do we build up Black wealth? How do we close this racial wealth gap?’”
Disparities in economic opportunity and achievement have been a prominent topic in the U.S. this year, since the summer’s widespread demonstrations against racism and police brutality. Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Raphael Bostic, the first Black Fed president in the central bank’s 106-year history, has said systemic racism is both an economic and a moral issue.
Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are emphasizing diversity as they prepare to assume power next year. Women comprise more than 50% of the new administration’s landing teams, according to the transition team, and more than 40% of advisers are from groups that are historically underrepresented in the federal government, like racial minorities, people with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQ.
“Having these individuals who are representative of their community in the actual room where they can voice their perspective and have their perspective actually translate to policy — it matters more than you think,” Opoku-Agyeman said. Next, she said, she will watch to see whether progressive-leaning advisers can drive policy change.
Among Biden’s Other Experts On The Racial Wealth Gap Are:
* Don Graves, who leads the Treasury landing team. He’s a former Obama administration official and was head of corporate responsibility at KeyBank until he joined the campaign in September.
* Bill Bynum, who will advise the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He’s chief executive of the Hope Credit Union.
* Tene Dolphin, who will serve on the Commerce Department’s landing team. She’s the first executive director for the Greater Washington Black Chamber of Commerce.
Such personnel decisions hint at the incoming administration’s emphasis on addressing disparities.
“Inequality in our economy causes a lot of problems,” said Ben Zipperer, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute. “There’s a growing awareness that we can actually do something about it.”
Biden Urged To Make Haaland First Native American In Cabinet
A campaign to pressure President-elect Joe Biden to put Representative Deb Haaland in charge of the Interior Department — and make her the first American Indian cabinet secretary in U.S. history — is gaining ground in Washington.
The effort, which involves lawmakers, tribal leaders and some environmentalists, also is making headway with Biden transition officials, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named discussing deliberations over personnel.
Haaland, who was just elected to her second term in the House, is a top contender for the post of Interior secretary along with retiring Senator Tom Udall, the people said. Both are Democrats from New Mexico.
Representative Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, just took himself out of the running, throwing his support behind Haaland for the post in a letter Monday to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Biden officials have been urged not to give serious weight to Senator Martin Heinrich, another Democrat from New Mexico, in part because of his decision to support current Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s confirmation last year, two of the people said.
If tapped and confirmed for the role, Haaland, 59, would be the first Native American to serve as any cabinet secretary. As a citizen of the Laguna Pueblo, a 7,700-member tribe west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, she became one of the first two Native American women in the House of Representatives when she was sworn in last year, alongside freshman Sharice Davids of Kansas.
“If selected, I would be honored to serve and support the Biden-Harris climate agenda, as well as help repair the government to government relationship with tribes that the Trump administration has ruined as the first Native American cabinet secretary in our nation’s history,” Haaland said in an emailed statement.
Haaland also highlighted the Interior Department’s role tackling climate change and preserving public lands. She has advocated greater federal government consultation with tribes, conservation of federal lands and federal-tribal collaboration to prevent violent crimes, partly in her role leading the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Lands.
Activists are appealing to Biden’s campaign commitment to elevate the voices of indigenous people, emphasizing that Native Americans are guardians of the land often overlooked in major environmental decisions. That role was vividly on display during months of protests of the Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 2016.
Protecting The Land
“The entire world saw indigenous people trying to do the basic thing of protecting the land and the water they considered a sacred site for their ceremonies,” said Jane Kleeb, an anti-pipeline activist and the chairwoman of the Nebraska Democratic Party who has encouraged Haaland’s selection. “The world changed in that moment, and I think that has impacted Democratic leaders.”
Where previous Interior secretaries have “given lip service to tribes on consultation in honoring treaty and sovereign rights,” Haaland would bring a commitment to change course, Kleeb said. “It would be a transformative moment — not just in symbolism, but in the way that she views how we should be protecting that land.”
Biden transition spokesmen did not respond to a request for comment.
The Interior Department runs the national park system and oversees grazing, recreation, energy development and other activities on about a fifth of the U.S. Through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the department works directly with 578 federally recognized Native American tribes. The Interior Department also holds trust title to more than 56 million acres of lands for tribal nations.
“It is long past time that a Native American person serve as secretary of the interior,” and Haaland is “ready” for the role, more than 130 leaders of sovereign tribal nations said in a letter to Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. “Representative Haaland has championed the environment, helped lead efforts to address climate change and worked to improve the nation-to-nation relationship between our tribes and the United States — all issues within the Department of the Interior’s responsibilities.”
Both Haaland and Udall have fought Trump administration efforts to unleash oil and gas development on public lands in the West. They also paired with Grijalva and 49 other lawmakers in a legal brief opposing eased limits on methane leaks from oil wells on federal lands.
Their views neatly align with Biden’s climate and environmental ambitions — but other factors could be at play in Biden’s Interior secretary selection. That includes the makeup of the rest of his cabinet and the confirmability of his choices in the narrowly divided Senate. While Udall could benefit from his relationships with Senate colleagues, Haaland would not have the same advantage.
Udall, who served two terms in the Senate after a decade in the House and a stint as New Mexico’s attorney general, has championed a plan to protect at least 30% of U.S. land and ocean by 2030. He also has argued for enlisting federal lands in the fight against climate change — using the territory as uninterrupted habitat for vulnerable species and a repository for carbon dioxide, instead of as a source of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases they generate.
In an emailed statement, Udall praised both Haaland and Heinrich. “Like so many New Mexicans, I’m excited about the vision of the incoming Biden-Harris administration and I am honored to be considered for an opportunity to continue my public service,” he said.
Sigh Of Relief’ For Markets On Janet Yellen News
News that Joe Biden will nominate Janet Yellen to be Treasury Secretary landed gently on Wall Street.
Traders intensely familiar with the former Federal Reserve chair cheered the pick in anticipation of her working well with the central bank to help the economy bounce back from the pandemic. Just last month, Yellen said the U.S. needs to “continue extraordinary fiscal support.” The pick also put an end to Wall Street’s fretting over Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has vowed to clip big banks with tighter financial regulations.
The S&P 500 popped higher on the news before ending the day roughly where it had been, up by 0.6%.
Krishna Guha And Ernie Tedeschi Of Evercore ISI:
Yellen is supremely qualified. She believes it is essential to continue fiscal as well as monetary support for the economy and will likely seek to leverage her credibility with Congress over time to promote more fiscal support including for the unemployed and for state and local governments. Though she will be careful ahead of confirmation and is not someone who has much experience of political deal-making.
Peter Mallouk, Chief Executive Officer Of Creative Planning:
The markets love this appointment because being the former Federal Reserve chair, there’s no surprises about her thinking. It’s very reassuring that Biden’s got an eye towards the markets and the economy. It’s a very, very safe bet, especially considering the markets were considering Elizabeth Warren, which I think would have been viewed as she has obviously a different position about Wall Street. It’s exciting she’ll be the first woman in that role as well.
KC Rajkumar And Jahanara Nissar, Analysts At Lynx Equity:
Definitely a great choice. Even though Yellen had been mentioned as a top choice for Treasury, her actual appointment puts a whole of worries behind the market. There’s this audible sigh of relief given Yellen’s record of firm hand and quiet competence. Most relieved would be the banks, given her focus on easy policy and her familiarity with the chiefs at the major banks during her prior role as the Fed chief.”
Chris Rupkey, Chief Financial Economist For MUFG Union Bank
One thing is for sure and that is there is unlikely to be as many Fed-Treasury spats and not only because Janet Yellen is no pushover. Very different skill sets involved here crossing over from the head of the Federal Reserve where the Treasury secretary is more political. I cannot think of someone who is better fit to run the U.S. Treasury. I can’t wait to finally hear what she thinks should be down with tax and spend policies in the new administration. There is no one more qualified.
Subadra Rajappa, Head Of U.S. Rates Strategy, Societe Generale SA:
She clearly has a long history on her stance on monetary policy, but fiscal policy especially, at these extraordinary times, requires not just technical knowledge but also negotiation skills and working closely with lawmakers. One thing she clearly brings to the table is a close working relationship with the Fed, and the close ties been monetary and fiscal policy and its impact on the economy.
Biden Offers A Trump Rebuke With His Choices For Spy Chief, DHS
President-elect Joe Biden is delivering a not-so-subtle rebuke to President Donald Trump with his choices of nominees to lead two key national-security agencies.
For his director of national intelligence, Biden has selected Avril Haines, a former top CIA official with years of experience in the espionage community who would fill a job that Trump had largely reserved for people better known for their loyalty to him.
And as homeland security secretary, the president-elect has picked Alejandro Mayorkas, a former head of Citizenship and Immigration Services who would become the first Latino and immigrant to lead an agency that has played a central role in Trump’s widely criticized border crackdown. Mayorkas also served as deputy secretary of the department.
The selections were announced Monday by Biden’s transition team as part of a broader slate of cabinet posts including the president-elect’s choices for secretary of State and national security adviser. The moves marked Biden’s latest effort to begin forming his administration, even as Trump and his allies refuse to concede the election and continue to contest the result, stalling the formal handoff of power.
Haines will be the first woman selected to oversee the 17 agencies that make up America’s intelligence community after her previous posts at the CIA and time as a deputy national security adviser in the Obama administration. Mayorkas, the first Latino and immigrant picked to run DHS, also served as deputy DHS secretary in the Obama administration.
The 51-year-old Haines is “one the hardest working people I know and she’ll be fantastic at DNI,” former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said during an event Monday hosted by the Center for a New American Security. “I can’t stress enough the importance of a well-running functional, bipartisan, credible intelligence community.”
Assuming she is confirmed by the Senate, Haines’s experience will contrast sharply with Trump’s most recent picks to lead the intelligence community. Feeling like he was undermined by “deep state” operatives across his government, President Donald Trump increasingly turned to political allies instead of intelligence veterans to serve as his DNI.
While his first DNI chief, former Indiana Senator Dan Coats, was a respected former member of the Intelligence Committee, Coats’s willingness to publicly criticize the president for siding with Russian President Vladimir Putin put him in Trump’s crosshairs and left him sidelined by then-CIA chief Michael Pompeo.
By the time the president tapped former Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to be acting DNI in early 2019, his strongest credential was his unwavering support of Trump.
Grenell, who also made history as the highest profile openly gay member of Trump’s administration, held the post until another loyalist with little background in intelligence, former Texas Representative John Ratcliffe, replaced him in May.
Ratcliffe was criticized for politicizing intelligence issues in October when he downplayed Russia’s role in election meddling after Trump signaled he was tired of hearing about Moscow’s interference in U.S. politics.
Like Haines at DNI, Mayorkas would also start work with a deep understanding of how his agency works.
A 60-year-old Jewish Cuban-American, Mayorkas came to the U.S. from Havana as an infant. He said in a tweet Monday that he fondly recalled the “refuge” the U.S. provided his family and said he’d look out for those who flee persecution in search of a better life.
— Alejandro Mayorkas (@AliMayorkas) November 23, 2020
When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
When I was very young, the United States provided my family and me a place of refuge. Now, I have been nominated to be the DHS Secretary and oversee the protection of all Americans and those who flee persecution in search of a better life for themselves and their loved ones.
From the day he announced his candidacy for president in 2015, Trump whipped up anti-immigration sentiment, saying the U.S. was plagued by undocumented Mexican immigrants who were “rapists” and vowing to get Mexico to pay for building a bigger and longer wall along the border.
Under Obama, Mayorkas had a key role in developing and shepherding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, or DACA, which came under fire as soon as Trump took office.
White House officials, including adviser Stephen Miller, spent the better part of his administration trying to undo DACA, which protects people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The program, which was never codified in legislation, gave those children, often called Dreamers, protection from being deported and allowed them to work legally.
Trump said he would “take care” of Dreamers and continue negotiating immigration laws when asked about his position on DACA at an October town hall, but he never offered clear proposals to do so. Biden, meanwhile, committed to reinstating DACA in the first 100 days of his presidency, according to his campaign website.
Trump’s Immigration Overhaul, and What Biden Might Do: QuickTake
“Mr. Mayorkas’s efforts to help immigrant youth through the creation of the DACA program earned him the trust and respect of immigrant communities,” Kerri Talbot, the director of federal advocacy at Immigration Hub, said in a statement Monday.
That will contrast with the Trump’s administration’s unapologetic pressure on refugees and both legal and undocumented migrants, including the forced separation of thousands of children from their parents when they were caught crossing the border from Mexico.
Trump also ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to broaden the targets of their immigration raids after the Obama administration sought to prioritize undocumented migrants with criminal records.
When he was pressed about the treatment of immigrants in custody — even those separated from their children — Trump responded that those people “are living far better now than where they came from.”
Immigrants rights groups said they hope a for a more compassionate approach from the next administration.
“Alejandro Mayorkas is an inspired choice,” Frank Sharry, the executive director of the group America’s Voice said in a statement. “Mayorkas understands intuitively what America at its best stands for and how these values need to be operationalized in law, regulation and policy.”
Biden Plans To Roll Back Trump-Era Education Policies
President-elect wants to expand resources for public schools and reinstate several civil-rights guidelines that were rescinded.
As with environmental and immigration policy, President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to bring sweeping changes to education and to reverse some of the civil rights-related moves made under President Trump.
The current education secretary, Betsy DeVos, sought to bolster school-choice programs, proposed cuts to public-school funding and called for swift school reopenings during the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Biden, meanwhile, has said he wants to expand resources for public schools and has pledged to appoint a teacher to head the Education Department.
“The DeVos administration has basically chosen to side on the powerful and not the vulnerable, not the marginalized,” said Arne Duncan, former President Barack Obama’s education secretary. “That’s going to fundamentally change.”
A spokeswoman from the Education Department, Angela Morabito, defended the department’s current policies, especially on school choice, saying: “There is no one less powerful and more marginalized than the student trapped in a failing, government-assigned school with no way out.”
Mr. Biden frequently points to his wife, Jill Biden, a community college professor and member of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, to underscore his support for educators.
“For American educators, this is a great day for you all. You’re going to have one of your own in the White House, and Jill’s going to make a great first lady,” Mr. Biden said during his presidential victory speech earlier this month.
Education policy scholars say Mr. Biden will need to give priority to securing education funding and providing guidance to schools for how to safely reopen if closed due to the pandemic. And while he has proposed increases in education spending, he likely will face challenges in Congress if Republicans keep control of the U.S. Senate and with the Democratic majority in the House narrowed.
It likely will be easier for his administration to reinstate several civil-rights guidelines that Mrs. DeVos rescinded. Mr. Biden has also signaled he would be less supportive of charter schools than past administrations, prompting concern among some groups that support school-choice policies.
Mr. Biden wants to make community college tuition-free for two years and public college tuition-free for families making less than $125,000 annually. He also supports doubling the maximum value of Pell grants to roughly $13,000 a year for low- and moderate-income students.
Throughout the presidential campaign, Mr. Biden said he would push to forgive $10,000 in debt for every American with federal student loans to help them cope during the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Biden has promised billions in spending for public schools. He said he wants to triple funding for the Title I program, which assists schools with a high percentage of students from low-income families and receives roughly $15 billion annually. He also wants to fund universal prekindergarten.
Those proposals will likely face challenges in Congress if Republicans hold on to their majority in the Senate. Two runoff races in Georgia will determine which party controls the Senate in January. If Democrats win both seats, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, in her role as president of the Senate, could cast a tiebreaking vote.
Some progressives, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have called for Mr. Biden to forgive student debt through executive action, though it isn’t clear whether such a move would survive a legal challenge.
Mr. Biden has pledged to restore Obama-era civil rights guidelines that Mrs. DeVos rescinded.
Under the Trump administration, the Education Department rolled back guidance that enabled transgender students to choose bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
Mrs. DeVos also rescinded guidelines that encouraged the use of race in college admissions to promote diversity, and she revoked a federal guideline directing schools not to punish minority students at higher rates. Education policy scholars said Mr. Biden’s administration could quickly undo many of those actions.
Mr. Biden has said he would end Mrs. DeVos’s Title IX rules. The regulations, which drew criticism from victims-rights advocates, bolstered protections for those accused of sexual misconduct.
Undoing Mrs. DeVos’s Title IX rules would likely take longer, since the Biden administration would need to overturn or revise the rules through legislative or administrative processes.
“There are a lot of ways in which the Trump administration has rolled back rights for students in this country. A lot of that deals with transgender students or students who have experienced sexual assault. So Vice President Biden will absolutely reverse those rollbacks in policy,” Stef Feldman, Mr. Biden’s campaign policy director, told reporters in October.
Mr. Biden has promised greater scrutiny for charter schools, prompting worry among some school-choice advocates.
“I absolutely am deeply concerned that a union-controlled Biden Education Department could have a chilling effect on the progress that the states and parents have made in securing educational options and excellence for the kids,” said Jeanne Allen, chief executive of the Center for Education Reform.
Mr. Biden has called for more stringent guardrails for charter schools, which are publicly funded but mostly privately managed, to access federal funds. He also wants to end federal funding for charter schools run by for-profit companies, which make up about 12% of charter schools, according to the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.
During the Democratic primary and general election, Mr. Trump touted his support for charters and school-choice policies, arguing that parents should have more flexibility to decide where their children attend school.
While the Obama administration supported the growth of charter schools and drew the ire of some teachers unions, Mr. Biden has formed closer ties to teachers unions, which have called for greater accountability for charter schools.
“He has been working closely with us over these last few months to listen and understand what the issues are that we are facing in this moment,” Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, said. “We know we have a partner.”
Some centrist Democratic groups have urged Mr. Biden to continue investing in nonprofit charter schools, which they say have strong support among minority groups.
“The data is consistently clear that nonprofit public charter schools, particularly in our urban communities that serve our African-American and Latino students, have performed well,” said Shavar Jeffries, president of Democrats for Education Reform. “For that reason, there’s also very strong support among African-American and Latino parents for charter schools.”
Biden Builds All-Female White House Senior Communications Team
President-elect Joe Biden has built a senior communications team composed entirely of women, including Jen Psaki to be the face of the administration as White House press secretary, his transition said Sunday.
Psaki, a former Obama White House communications director and State Department spokeswoman, has been an on-camera spokeswoman for Biden’s transition office. Kate Bedingfield, deputy campaign manager and communications director during the 2020 campaign, will be Biden’s White House communications director.
Ashley Etienne, a former communications director and senior adviser to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, will be Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s communications director. Symone Sanders, one of Biden’s most visible campaign aides, will be senior adviser and chief spokesperson for Harris. Sanders advised Harris and traveled with her during the final weeks of the campaign, a task she’s continued in during the transition.
Karine Jean-Pierre will be principal deputy press secretary after serving as a senior adviser during the campaign. She also worked on Barack Obama’s two presidential campaigns and in his White House as a regional political director. Pili Tobar, the Biden campaign’s communications director for coalitions, will be deputy communications director.
Liz Alexander, whose work with Biden dates back to his time in the Senate, will be communications director for Jill Biden.
Biden Taps Yellen As Treasury Secretary To Rebuild U.S. Economy
President-elect Joe Biden named former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury secretary, the first woman to run the agency.
He also named Neera Tanden to head the Office of Management and Budget, Cecilia Rouse to lead the Council of Economic Advisers. Long-time advisers Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey will also be on the CEA.
Yellen and others will be tasked with steering the economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic.
President-elect Joe Biden took a significant step this week toward addressing the damage to the U.S. economy inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic, naming an economic team led by his choice for Treasury secretary, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.
In Yellen, Biden will have a battle-tested policy maker who can draw on her nearly two decades at the Fed to help rebuild an economy in dire need of government cash and confidence. Biden has called for trillions of dollars in new stimulus to aid the small and mid-size businesses that are the nation’s jobs engine.
“We face great challenges as a country right now,” Yellen said in her first post on Twitter after Biden announced he would nominate her. “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’s expected to champion what she’s called “extraordinary fiscal support” to help the pandemic-ridden economy — deficit spending that she says is affordable given extraordinarily low interest rates.
Biden also announced other picks for his economic policy team early Monday, including longtime Democratic policy staffer Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget. Cecilia Rouse, formerly of the Obama administration and currently dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs, will head the Council of Economic Advisers. Both roles require Senate confirmation.
Adewale Adeyemo, a former senior adviser at BlackRock Inc. who is president of President Barack Obama’s foundation, will be nominated as the deputy Treasury secretary.
At the top of their to-do list will be to break a deadlock in Congress over additional relief spending, an effort that would be far easier if Democrats win two Georgia Senate seats in runoff elections next month to wrest control of the chamber from Mitch McConnell’s Republicans.
Yellen is seen winning easy confirmation in the Senate. While she occasionally sparred with Republican lawmakers as Fed chair, she’s widely respected, and some GOP senators publicly complimented her selection.
“It’s important we have credible and experienced people to serve at the highest levels of government. Yellen has clearly demonstrated her capacity during her public service,” Representative Patrick McHenry, the highest-ranking Republican on the House Financial Services committee, said Monday.
At 74, she will be the oldest Treasury secretary in recent memory, and the first woman to lead the agency.
Yellen would be the second person in the modern era to serve as both Fed chair and Treasury chief, after Jimmy Carter appointee William Miller, and the only one to also have led the White House Council of Economic Advisers, which she did in the Clinton administration.
“Biden made a clever pick with Yellen,” said economist Marc Sumerlin of Evenflow Macro in Washington. “She’s non-partisan, has earned everybody’s respect, and can give intellectual heft to the stimulus argument more than anyone else could have.”
Here’s a look at her challenges ahead.
The U.S. economy is showing signs of further erosion as coronavirus cases spiral and some states begin to shutter businesses again in a bid to slow the spread. The U.S. outbreak threatens to be a drag on the nascent labor market recovery, with jobless claims ticking up and payroll gains forecast to slow further.
Nine months into the pandemic, more than six million people still claim extended unemployment assistance.
Key for the Biden administration is passing a fiscal stimulus package that bolsters consumer finances and supports additional spending. The Fed is set to maintain an accommodative monetary policy to help drive growth.
History suggests Yellen will be sworn in by early February. Among her first tasks will be to decide what to do about the Fed’s pandemic lending programs. Outgoing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said some will sunset on Dec. 31. She may find a way to extend them, which is the Fed’s preference, or perhaps redesign them since many remained largely untapped.
Investors predict that with a less volatile boss than her predecessor, Yellen can be a stabilizing force on Wall Street.
President Donald Trump’s practice of policy making by tweet sowed unpredictability for businesses and investors. Yellen’s tenure at the Fed — as chairman, vice-chairman, governor, and San Francisco Fed president — means that she’s keenly aware of the market impact of her words, a stark contrast with senior Trump administration officials.
“The markets love this appointment because being the former Federal Reserve chair, there’s no surprises about her thinking,” said Peter Mallouk, chief executive officer of Creative Planning.
Yellen comes as something of a relief to Wall Street after talk of Biden choosing Senator Elizabeth Warren, a nemesis of big banks with a preference for stronger financial regulation, as his Treasury chief.
But it’s the influence of progressive Democrats like Warren that steered Biden away from current Fed Governor Lael Brainard. Before Election Day, Brainard was a favorite for Treasury secretary among Biden’s advisers. Biden’s allies have since asked that Brainard remain at the Fed, where she’s the lone Democrat on the board.
The party’s liberal wing appreciates Yellen for her support of tighter financial regulation, for which she’ll be the point person in the Biden administration. That will thrust her into anticipated policy battles between progressives and moderates over the policing of Wall Street.
The most liberal lawmakers want to restore and even toughen post-financial crisis rules weakened during the Trump administration. But centrists may push for a more cautious approach, arguing that it would be a mistake to clamp down on banks at a time when the economy is imperiled.
As Treasury chief, Yellen will lead the Financial Stability Oversight Council, the powerful group of regulators that tries to identify and rein in emerging threats posed by the industry. Since it was created through the Dodd-Frank Act, FSOC has become a forum for agencies like Treasury, the Fed and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to collaborate on oversight.
Yellen’s record indicates she may use the position to push for new rules on so-called shadow lenders, such as money-market mutual funds and investment banks that are outside the Fed’s reach.
In recent years she’s sounded alarms in particular about leveraged lending — loans extended to businesses that are already highly indebted — due to concerns that the economy could suffer significant job losses if the corporate borrowers start defaulting. Shadow banks are very active in leveraged lending.
What’s less clear about Yellen is whether she’ll embrace the Treasury secretary’s role as an occasional economic aggressor. While international economic diplomacy will be part of her purview, taking her to Group of 20 meetings that she participated in as Fed chair, she’ll now play a much larger role in U.S. foreign policy.
Part of her new remit will be to work with the State Department and other national security agencies to manage the vast U.S. sanctions portfolio. But as Biden indicated during his presidential campaign, his early agenda will include repairing ties with allies damaged by Trump’s “America First” position.
Mnuchin and predecessors including Hank Paulson played central roles in managing trade policy and relations with China. It remains to be seen if Biden will hand Yellen the same power.
The new administration will also need to decide whether to scrap, keep, or escalate the billions of dollars in tariffs levied against Chinese imports, and whether to stick to the partial trade deal Trump signed with Beijing in January or seek to renegotiate it.
Yellen also will be involved in determining whether to continue sanctions imposed on Chinese officials for their crackdown on human rights, and she’ll inherit Trump administration restrictions aimed at cutting off Chinese technology companies’ access to American intellectual property.
Yellen has spoken in favour of liberalizing trade and has publicly disagreed with Trump’s position that China’s management of its economy swelled the U.S. trade deficit. She said in February that “we haven’t seen” any evidence that duties on Chinese goods made U.S. manufacturers more competitive or more likely to hire.
At Treasury, Yellen would also decide whether to continue branding China as a currency manipulator in biannual reports. The U.S. label has no practical effect, but adds to tensions between the world’s two largest economies.
While not singling out Beijing, Yellen said in 2019 that it was “really difficult and treacherous” to determine when a country is massaging its currency to gain a trade advantage. A weaker exchange rate, she said, may just be a byproduct of looser economic policy.
Biden To Name Tanden As Budget Chief, Likely Riling GOP
President-elect Joe Biden is turning to longtime Democratic policy staffer Neera Tanden to lead his Office of Management and Budget and Cecilia Rouse to head the Council of Economic Advisers, people familiar with the process said.
Biden will also nominate Adewale Adeyemo, a former senior adviser at BlackRock Inc., to be deputy Treasury secretary as part of a slate of economic-team nominations he plans to announce on Tuesday, the people said. Adeyemo is a Nigerian-born attorney and president of the Obama Foundation.
Brian Deese, another Blackrock executive who served in the Obama administration, is likely to be offered the job of National Economic Council director, according to people familiar with the matter.
Tanden’s nomination already appeared to be in trouble with Senate Republican aides expressing opposition before it was formally announced.
Drew Brandewie, an aide to Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn said on Twitter that she “stands zero chance of being confirmed.”
Another aide said Republicans in the Senate would certainly block Tanden, who’s viewed as too progressive even though she’s also had squabbles with some on the left.
Combined with other appointments, the economic team Biden is expected to unveil on Tuesday will include three women, two African Americans and an Indian American as he seeks to create a diverse group of economic advisers and put women and minorities in jobs historically held by White men.
Biden has also tapped two economic advisers from his presidential campaign, Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, to be members of the CEA.
Bernstein and Boushey are well liked by progressives. Boushey, who runs the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, has advocated for paid parental leave and raising the minimum wage. Bernstein was Biden’s chief economic adviser in the White House during President Barack Obama’s first term.
In addition to ethnic and gender diversity, the choices show Biden turning to experienced Washington hands as he begins building his economic team. He’s selected Janet Yellen, the former Federal Reserve chairman, as his nominee for treasury secretary, Bloomberg News reported last week.
He received some criticism from Representative Jim Clyburn, the most senior Black lawmaker in Congress, who is credited with helping Biden with the South Carolina primary, a win that sped his progress toward the nomination.
In an interview with Juan Williams for his column in The Hill newspaper, Clyburn indicated he was disappointed the president-elect had named just “one Black woman so far” to a senior position — Linda Thomas-Greenfield as United Nations ambassador.
“I want to see where the process leads to, what it produces,” Clyburn added. “But so far it’s not good.”
Tanden, an Indian-American who currently leads the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, worked on the Obama administration’s health-care reform and was a close adviser to Hillary Clinton.
Rouse also worked in the Obama administration as a member of the CEA and is currently dean of Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. If confirmed, she would be the first African American to chair the CEA.
Adeyemo would bring international economic experience to the Biden team, complementing Yellen’s more domestic focus over the course of her academic and government career. Adeyemo was deputy chief of staff to Jack Lew when he was Treasury secretary and was the first chief of staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Elizabeth Warren.
Biden’s team will inherit a U.S. economy rocked this year by the coronavirus pandemic, and will have to try to sustain its revival. There’s already signs of increasing fragility as virus infection rates increase and states begin to lock down businesses again. That threatens the nascent recovery of the labor market, with jobless claims ticking up and payroll gains forecast to slow further in November.
Biden Picks Ally Jim Clyburn As Chair Of Inaugural Committee
President-elect Joe Biden has picked one of his top allies in Congress, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, as chair of his inaugural committee.
Biden announced the leadership for the committee on Monday. Clyburn will be joined by four co-chairs, including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware.
“These leaders reflect the strength, spirit, and diversity of America and have always held a steadfast commitment to restoring the soul of the nation, building back the middle class, and unifying the country,” Biden said in a written statement.
Clyburn has been one of Biden’s most steadfast supporters — the highest-ranking Black lawmaker in Congress, whose endorsement helped turn around Biden’s flagging primary campaign. Clyburn spoke out late last month, saying Biden has not yet appointed enough African Americans to his cabinet.
Richmond has been also been tapped to work in the White House as a senior aide to Biden, including running the Office of Public Engagement.
President Donald Trump has not yet conceded defeat, and continues to allege a widespread fraud without evidence. Trump has declined to say whether he will attend Biden’s inauguration, as is the custom.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Is On The Shortlist Of Joe Biden’s Picks For The Role Of Attorney General
* New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is one of four candidates being considered for attorney general in President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, a source told the Associated Press on Friday.
* The other three contenders include former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, and Judge Merrick Garland.
* Cuomo has previously said he has “no interest in going to Washington” despite having previously served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under then-President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001.
* Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The high profile New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is on the shortlist of candidates under consideration to become President-elect Joe Biden’s attorney general, a source closely involved in the process told the Associated Press on Friday.
Cuomo, who has a longtime friendship with Biden, is reportedly one of four people who are in the running for the top role, which is currently held by William Barr.
The other three contenders include former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, and Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick in 2016.
The role is one of several Cabinet selections that have not yet been announced.
Cuomo has previously said he has “no interest in going to Washington” after an Axios report published two months ago tipped him for the role.
When asked by reporters what he would say to Biden if the position were offered to him, Cuomo said in October: “I would say, ‘You are an old friend. You are a good friend. You’re going to win this election. You’re going to be the president. I’ll help you any way I can.'”
Cuomo repeated his stance in a radio interview in New York this week, but also said that the attorney general job “is really critical, especially now,” AP reported.
The role would not be completely new to Cuomo, who was New York’s attorney general from 2007 to 2011.
He is also no stranger to Washington, having previously served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under then-President Bill Clinton from 1997 to 2001.
Cuomo saw a surge in popularity earlier this year after holding daily televised briefings on New York’s COVID-19 response when New York City found itself at the center of the US outbreak.
However, over the months, the governor has received criticism over his handling of the state’s nursing homes.
It is not clear how seriously Cuomo is being considered, although the source confirmed to AP that no decision had been reached yet and no announcement is expected imminently.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Accused of Sexual Harassment by Ex-Aide
Spokeswoman for governor denies allegations: ‘There is simply no truth to these claims.’
A former economic-development aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and current candidate for Manhattan borough president accused the Democratic governor Sunday of sexually harassing her while she worked for the state.
Lindsey Boylan, 36 years old, said in posts on Twitter that Mr. Cuomo “harassed me for years. Many saw it, and watched. I could never anticipate what to expect: would I be grilled on my work (which was very good) or harassed about my looks. Or would it be both in the same conversation?”
Ms. Boylan didn’t return messages asking her to elaborate on her Twitter posts. She later tweeted that she wouldn’t be talking to reporters about the matter.
Caitlin Girouard, a spokeswoman for the governor, denied the allegations.
“There is simply no truth to these claims,” she said.
A state official said Ms. Boylan didn’t file any formal complaints against the governor while she was a state employee.
Ms. Boylan worked at the state’s economic-development authority, Empire State Development, from 2015 to 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile. She then moved into the Executive Chamber—Mr. Cuomo’s dedicated staff—and served from March 2018 to October 2018.
Mr. Cuomo’s national profile has increased based on his management of the coronavirus pandemic in New York. He is being considered for appointment as U.S. attorney general by President-elect Joe Biden, people familiar with the matter have said.
In the midst of the #MeToo movement, Mr. Cuomo signed legislation in 2018 that, among other things, extended state workplace harassment protections to contractors, banned mandatory arbitration for harassment victims and required private employers to develop anti-harassment policies and conduct annual training.
In a Democratic primary challenge, the actress Cynthia Nixon accused Mr. Cuomo that year of being slow to act on complaints of sexual harassment against allies. Ms. Nixon pointed to Sam Hoyt, a former state Assembly member whom Mr. Cuomo hired as an economic-development adviser.
A former state employee, Lisa Marie Cater, said in a 2017 lawsuit that she was forcefully kissed and groped by Mr. Hoyt, who helped her get a job at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Ms. Cater said in the lawsuit that Mr. Cuomo and his advisers had ignored her complaints.
A lawyer for the governor said that Ms. Cater’s complaints about Mr. Hoyt were investigated thoroughly. Her legal claims against both Messrs. Cuomo and Hoyt were dismissed in 2019. It wasn’t clear whether Mr. Hoyt left state government as a result of the investigation. Mr. Hoyt and his lawyer previously said Mr. Hoyt and Ms. Cater had a consensual romantic relationship.
Mr. Cuomo’s campaign responded to Ms. Nixon at the time by pointing to his legislative record.
After leaving state employment, Ms. Boylan mounted an unsuccessful Democratic primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler over his initial reluctance to impeach President Trump. She declared her candidacy for borough president in November.
Minority-Owned Firms Hurt by Pandemic Will Be Focus For Small Business Administration Nominee
Isabel Guzman will oversee the $284 billion Paycheck Protection Program of forgivable loans and other efforts to help small businesses.
President Biden’s pick to lead the Small Business Administration, Isabel Guzman, pledged to ensure the Paycheck Protection Program and other initiatives reach minority-owned businesses and those in underserved communities during testimony in her Senate confirmation hearing.
“There are many communities that face barriers to capital or have experienced historic racism or barriers that have prevented them from building the wealth that’s needed for accessing capital,” Ms. Guzman said Wednesday during the hearing held by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
“It’s really critical that we look at all of our programs from that lens of equity and make sure we’re reaching our underserved populations,” she added.
The Paycheck Protection Program, the federal government’s main form of coronavirus aid for small businesses, will be a focus for Ms. Guzman, an Obama administration alumna who served most recently as director of California’s Office of the Small Business Advocate. Mr. Biden has said an equitable distribution of small-business aid is a priority as his administration seeks to address racial and economic inequality.
Lawmakers from both parties have praised the program for providing a vital lifeline to small businesses during the pandemic. Still, it has faced scrutiny over potential fraud and concerns the loans weren’t sufficiently reaching mom-and-pop and minority-owned firms.
Those concerns followed the Trump administration’s rocky rollout of the program last spring, as businesses without existing relationships with lenders—which issue the loans—struggled to access the program early on.
The Trump administration took steps to address the issue, including earmarking funds for community lenders, which tend to have strong ties to minority communities and very small firms. When the program reopened last month, only community lenders issued the loans initially, which the SBA said was part of an effort to ensure access for women, minorities, veterans and underserved communities.
More recently, lenders have said glitches in the SBA’s loan-approval process were slowing down their ability to move borrower applications forward.
In her prepared testimony, Ms. Guzman said she would ensure the SBA has “the right systems, technology and operating processes in place to advance its mission” if she is confirmed.
The Paycheck Protection Program offers loans for payroll, overhead costs and other eligible expenses. The loans are forgivable, provided recipients spend most of the money to pay workers. It reopened last month with $284 billion in funding, after an initial run from last April to August that distributed about five million loans totaling $525 billion.
The SBA has approved roughly $73 billion in PPP loans to both first- and second-time applicants since the initiative reopened, according to the most recent agency data.
Senators during the hearing questioned Ms. Guzman on several aspects of PPP, including her stance on affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and citizens with criminal records receiving the loans.
Ms. Guzman declined to comment on Planned Parenthood specifically, but said she would welcome the opportunity to discuss the program’s rules with lawmakers to ensure the agency is adhering to them. She said she would also consider what administrative action she could take to ensure greater access to the program for those with criminal records.
Ms. Guzman served as deputy chief of staff at the SBA under President Obama. In California, her home state, she helped implement a grant program for businesses affected by the pandemic. Ms. Guzman has said she became interested in entrepreneurship as she grew up, working alongside her father at the family business, a veterinary hospital.
Senators on Wednesday emphasized the central role the SBA and Ms. Guzman will play in helping small businesses recover from the economic downturn. A Federal Reserve report released Wednesday found that many small firms remain under stress during the pandemic and believe that additional government support is crucial.
At the SBA, Ms. Guzman would also be responsible for several other relief initiatives authorized by Congress as part of the coronavirus stimulus package passed last December, including a $15 billion grant program for concert halls and other live venues.
Ms. Guzman’s task list could grow longer still if President Biden’s small-business proposals for the next coronavirus stimulus package come to fruition. Mr. Biden’s $1.9 trillion plan calls for $15 billion in flexible grants to small firms and $35 billion in funding for small-business lending and investments.
Sen. Tim Scott (R., S.C.) questioned Ms. Guzman on how raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour—a move Mr. Biden supports—could affect small business. Republicans broadly oppose a $15 minimum wage, and Mr. Scott said he hoped Ms. Guzman would be “a voice of reason” in discussions about the issue.
Ms. Guzman in response said she believes “strongly in being the voice of small business,” and that the SBA has resources that could help small businesses adapt to the marketplace and any challenges.
Kevin Kuhlman, vice president of government relations at the National Federation of Independent Business, said he would be listening for Ms. Guzman’s view on how the Biden administration’s regulatory agenda might affect small firms. In addition to calling for a $15 minimum wage, which the NFIB opposes, the Biden administration has signaled support for increased workplace-safety rules to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr. Kuhlman said many new regulations in quick succession could pose challenges for small firms recovering from the downturn. “If the environment is one that stresses enforcement and paperwork requirements and increased compliance,” Mr. Kuhlman said, “that could negatively impact the small business economy overall.”
Biden Asks 56 Trump-Appointed U.S. Attorneys To Step Down
President Joe Biden’s Justice Department began the process of removing most U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Donald Trump while asking two officials working on politically sensitive cases to stay on.
“We are committed to ensuring a seamless transition,” acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson said in a statement Tuesday.
Wilkinson said “interim and acting leaders in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will make sure that the department continues to accomplish its critical law enforcement mission, vigorously defend the rule of law and pursue the fair and impartial administration of justice for all.”
Replacing top prosecutors is standard for new administrations as the president seeks to put a stamp on U.S. attorneys’ offices across the country. The timeline for the officials to depart is a matter of weeks.
The decision is expected to affect 56 Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys. There are 93 U.S. attorneys, according to the Justice Department.
Despite the overhaul, the Biden administration is asking U.S. Attorney David Weiss in Delaware to continue in office. Weiss is overseeing the tax investigation of Hunter Biden, the president’s son. Wilkinson asked Weiss to continue during a Monday night call, according to a department official.
John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, will be asked to step down from that position but will continue in his role as special counsel looking into the origins of the investigation into Trump’s dealings with Russia, the official said.
The Biden administration also is expected to ask Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to move into an independent role to supervise solely the cases related to the deadly Jan. 6 mob attack at the U.S. Capitol, according to another official.
Biden officials are discussing a possible special counsel role for Sherwin, in which case a Democratic appointee would oversee the other cases in D.C., the largest U.S. attorney’s office in the country, that official said.
In 2017, at the start of the Trump administration, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama to submit their resignations. Most had to leave their jobs immediately although some were given time to finish their work.
Merrick Garland, Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has yet to have his confirmation hearing.
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