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‘Help is on the way’

Wilmington, Del: With coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surging in the country and the job market struggling to pull itself out of the abyss caused by the pandemic, President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday formally announced the advisers who he hopes can guide the United States back to solid economic footing.

The six-person economic team Biden has tapped comprises veterans from previous Democratic administrations and, if confirmed, includes a number of historic firsts.

Speaking from Wilmington, Del., the President-elect referred to the group as “first rate” and well-equipped to meet the dual challenges the pandemic and the sputtering economy present.

“A team that’s tested and experienced, it includes groundbreaking Americans who come from different backgrounds but who share my core vision for economic relief here in the United States of America,” Biden said.

Biden said Congress should come together to pass a “robust” aid package, but he also repeated his call for “immediate relief” in the lame duck period before he takes office. The rollout of Biden’s team comes as lawmakers have offered new aid proposals.

Biden also laid out a laundry list of economic goals that must be addressed early on in his administration. These include keeping businesses and schools open safely, delivering economic relief for those who have lost jobs or had hours cut, stabilizing the nation’s health care system and addressing racial inequities the virus has laid bare.

“Our message to everyone struggling right now is this: Help is on the way,” Biden said.

The incoming administration’s economic team is set to be led by Janet Yellen, a former Federal Reserve chair whom Biden nominated for treasury secretary. Yellen would become the first woman to lead the department in its 231 years of existence.

Yellen also highlighted many of the economic challenges facing the Biden administration and vowed to champion policy changes to deal with issues such as gender discrimination and small business lending that blocks wealth-building opportunities for communities of color.

“It’s a convergence of tragedies that is not only economically unstable, but one that betrays our commitment to giving every American an equal chance to get ahead,” Yellen said.

Neera Tanden is to serve as director of the Office of Management and Budget. If confirmed, Tanden would be the first woman of color to lead the OMB.

“We face great challenges as a country right now. 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,” she wrote. “As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.”

Cecilia Rouse, one of the nation’s top labor economists, is to serve as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers. If confirmed, the Princeton dean will become the first African American and the fourth woman to lead the CEA in its 74 years of its existence.

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