BlackRock’s Deese to Lead Biden’s National Economic Council
(Bloomberg) -- President-elect Joe Biden announced Thursday that he has selected Brian Deese, a BlackRock Inc. executive and former Obama administration official, to lead his National Economic Council.
Deese is “among the most tested and accomplished public servants in the country -- a trusted voice I can count on to help us end the ongoing economic crisis, build a better economy that deals everybody in and take on the existential threat of climate change in a way that creates good-paying American jobs,” Biden said in a written statement.
In a video accompanying the statement, Biden said he chose Deese in part for his experience on climate issues, which includes serving as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama on energy and climate.
“If we’re going to tackle the climate challenge, we need to make sure that solutions are woven into every output of our policy making,” Biden said.
Deese also worked on Obama’s 2008 campaign and joined his administration in 2009. He was part of the task force charged with restructuring the automobile industry following the financial crisis and later became deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Deese’s selection to be director of the NEC, which is part of the White House, had already been confirmed by people familiar with the decision, but the transition waited until Thursday to announce the move.
Deese joins the president-elect’s growing economic team. On Tuesday, Biden announced his first selections, including Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary, Adewale Adeyemo to be deputy Treasury secretary, Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, and Cecilia Rouse to head the Council of Economic Advisers -- all of which require Senate confirmation. As a White House staff position, the NEC role doesn’t need Senate approval.
Biden’s selection of Deese comes as the president-elect’s transition office faces pressure to build a diverse senior team, as well as to satisfy various ideological constituencies within the Democratic Party. Some Black groups had hoped that Biden would choose TIAA Chief Executive Officer Roger Ferguson or former American Express CEO Ken Chenault for the job.
Progressive groups have meanwhile criticized Deese, arguing that his experience at BlackRock may make him too sympathetic to the financial industry. They’re also unimpressed by his record on climate and have pointed to work he did during the Obama years on deficit reduction as a warning sign that he may not support the significant stimulus spending the left is pushing.
Sunrise Movement, a progressive climate group that this summer urged Biden not to bring anyone from BlackRock into his administration until it made changes to its sustainability policies, said it would be watching Deese carefully in his new role.
“We don’t wish to litigate Brian’s record or his commitment — it’ll be his job to prove he understands the urgency of the climate threat every day in his position, and our movement will be there to remind him of what’s at stake,” political director Evan Weber said.
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