US President-elect Joe Biden's business team on December 1, 2020 at the Queen Theater in Wilmington, Delaware. (Top LR) Chair of Economic Adviser Council Candidate Cecilia Rouse, Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen, and Assistant Secretary of Treasury Office nominees Adewale Wally Adeyemo. (Bottom L-R) Nominee for the Council of Economic Advisor Jared Bernstein, nominee for the Bureau of Administration and Budget Neera Tanden, nominee for the Council of Economic Advisor Heather Boushey.
Chandan Khanna | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – President-elect Joe Biden introduced the nation to six key members of his economic team on Tuesday. Together they form a diverse group of experts whose personal history and economic philosophy represent a sharp departure from the last four years of President Donald Trump's tenure.
"This is a family-oriented team," Biden said with the nominees during an event in Wilmington, Delaware. "This team will always be there for you and your families."
Indeed, family was the consistent, if unexpected, topic that ran through each of the nominees' six speeches on Tuesday.
Biden's economic advisors described how their early hardship experiences became windows through which they still view economic policy as savvy economists.
Former Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen, Biden's candidate for the Treasury Department, described how her father, a family doctor, treated patients in the basement of her home in a working-class Brooklyn neighborhood.
At night, she said, her father would talk about "what work means to his patients, our friends and neighbors. Especially when they lose a job, the financial problems, the family problems, the health problems, the loss of dignity and self-worth." "
Yellen added, "I became an economist because I was concerned about the impact of unemployment on people, families and communities."
Neera Tanden, a veteran Democratic policy advisor Biden appointed to head the Bureau of Administration and Household, described how her single mother, an immigrant from India, relied on food stamps to support her two daughters and Section 8 vouchers to pay the rent.
"I am here today, thanks to my mother's determination, but also thanks to the country that had confidence in us, that has invested in her humanity and in our dreams. I am here today for social programs, for budgetary decisions, for a government, who recognized my mother's dignity and gave her a chance, "said Tanden.
Stories like Tanden and Yellen's were also notable because they differ greatly from the experiences and biographies of Trump's first list of economic advisors announced days after the presidential angry election victory in 2016.
Trump's financial advisory team was made up entirely of white men and focused heavily on Wall Street barons and billionaires.
President Donald Trump, National Security Advisor to US President Donald Trump, John Bolton, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, attend a working lunch with Chinese President Xi Jinping following the G20 Summit of Heads of State and Government in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on December 1, 2018.
Kevin Lemarque | CNBC
"I want people who have made a fortune," Trump said at the end of 2016, explaining his preferences for the president's position. Above all, Trump said he did not believe that "a poor person" could be an effective economic advisor. He wanted rich people to run the economy "because we want to think that way".
There was no such "way of thinking" to be seen on Tuesday in Wilmington. Instead, the focus was on the experiences of immigrants, marginalized groups and union workers.
Adewale "Wally" Adeyemo, former deputy director of the National Economic Council and Biden's candidate for deputy finance minister, told how his immigrant parents came to America from Nigeria.
Adeyemo described how his parents, “an elementary school principal and a nurse, came to America to build better lives for me and my siblings. They taught us that we have a responsibility to serve our community and the country that belongs to us offers many possibilities. " " he said.
Cecilia Rouse, a Princeton economist and Biden's decision to chair the Council of Economic Advisers, described how her first business class in college coincided with a steep recession in the early 1980s. "I found it impossible to separate what we were learning from what I knew was going on in cities across the country," she said.
Biden's longtime economic advisor, Jared Bernstein, who wanted to join the CEA, recalled being raised by a single mother who held a photo of Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the wall.
Most recently, Heather Boushey, another choice of Biden, spoke to join the CEA. She shared how her father was fired from work at Boeing in the 1980s. "For the first time, I really experienced this pain called economics," she said.
"I was impressed by the deep power this mysterious force wielded over my life, my friends and my community," said Boushey.
Biden is expected to name several key positions in the White House in the coming weeks.