United States President-elect Joe Biden is unveiling his economic team today amid growing concerns about the pace of the nation's economic recovery as governments reimpose restrictions to curtail the surging coronavirus pandemic.
Biden says his economic team is "first rate" and will help build an economy that works for all Americans.
"The goal is simple: To keep businesses and schools open safely, and for millions of Americans who have lost their jobs or hours, and have had to claim unemployment, we have to deliver them immediate relief," Biden said.
Biden introduced key members of the team in Delaware, including former Fed chair Janet Yellen to become Treasury secretary. Biden described Yellen as one of the "most important economic thinkers of our time."
She would be the first female Treasury secretary if confirmed by the Senate.
Biden also introduced Neera Tanden as his choice to run the White House budget office. Tanden's nomination, however, has encountered early disapproval from some Senate Republicans, who will vote on her nomination.
Biden also named his chair and members of the Council of Economic Advisers. He says the CEA chair will serve in the Cabinet. Biden also named a deputy for Yellen.
Biden is calling on Congress to pass a "robust package for relief" to address the economic and public health crisis brought on by the Covid pandemic.
Congressional leaders have been locked in a stalemate over a Covid relief package, with Democrats and Republicans unable to agree on the price tag or content of a potential bill, though a team of bipartisan lawmakers released their own compromise legislation today.
Biden said that any package passed during the lame duck session of Congress would be "at best just a start" and that his team is already working on his own proposal for the new Congress "to address the multiple crises we're facing." He said the team of economic advisers would play a "critical role" in shaping the Biden administration's plan to revive the economy.
Biden has assembled a team of liberal advisers who have long prioritised the nation's workers and government efforts to address economic inequality, as unemployment remains high and as the Covid-19 outbreak widens the gulf between average Americans and the nation's most well off.
The virus, which has killed more than 268,000 Americans, is resurgent across the country amid holiday travel and colder weather sending people indoors.
Yellen served as chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, when she placed a greater emphasis than previous Fed chairs on maximising employment and less focus on price inflation. Biden also named Cecilia Rouse as chair of his Council of Economic Advisers, and Heather Boushey and Jared Bernstein as members of the council.
All are outspoken supporters of more government stimulus spending to boost growth — which Biden embraced on the campaign trail — though their proposals could face a difficult reception in Congress, which has stalemated on a new round of economic relief for months now.
The prospects for a large-scale deal could hang on the outcome of runoff elections for both Georgia Senate seats. Victories in both would give Democrats control of the chamber — and its agenda - by the slimmest of margins, but Republican victories will quickly test Biden and his team's ability to negotiate across the aisle to deliver on their promised relief for Americans.
The event comes a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said that the pace of improvement in the economy has moderated in recent months with future prospects remaining "extraordinarily uncertain."
Steven Mnuchin, President Donald Trump's Treasury Secretary, announced last month that over the objections of the Fed that he would not grant extensions for five lending programmes being operated jointly by the Fed and the Treasury Department that are scheduled to expire on December 31, including backstops for corporate and municipal debt and the purchase of loans for small businesses and nonprofits.