No, this isn’t an insurance commercial. It is a full-throated endorsement of President-elect Biden’s economic team — a diverse group with deep experience making economic policy during the financial crisis that rocked the global economy just over a decade ago. This team is well-suited to do the same now as the devastated economy struggles with the Covid-19 pandemic.
First up on the Biden economic policy agenda is another fiscal rescue package to keep the economy afloat until the end of the pandemic. A critical lesson learned in the financial crisis is that when things are going off the rails, policymakers should respond quickly and with everything they have. The longer it takes to respond, the worse the long-term economic damage will be.
Once the pandemic is over, it will take deft policymaking to get all the unemployed back to work anytime soon. Given the possibility of the Senate being under Republican control, the Biden administration could be engulfed in budget wars like those with which the Obama administration grappled. It was tough to watch the brinkmanship over keeping the government open and avoiding default on its obligations. Odds are uncomfortably high that this bad movie will replay in the next two years.
Tanden has run a liberal think tank for much of the past decade and will be a strong voice for progressives and their policies in the Biden administration. This is probably why she has provoked the most significant pushback from Senate Republicans whose support she will likely need to be confirmed.
President-elect Biden’s most important long-term economic challenge will be to lift the financial fortunes of hard-pressed lower-income and minority households. Things were tough for these groups before the pandemic given the decades-long skewing of income and wealth distribution, and the virus has further undermined their finances.
If there is a gap in Biden’s economic team it is that it lacks someone who has started or managed a business. Getting the economy back to a place in which all Americans benefit requires businesses to do well. This means economic policies also need to be considered from a businessperson’s perspective. The new administration is sure to solicit many outside business voices, but policymaking would benefit from an experienced voice on the team.
The Covid-19 pandemic is sure to have long-lasting economic fallout. Just how long will depend in large part on the new president’s economic policies. Judging by the economic team he has assembled, we are in good hands.