Biden says he has picked a Treasury secretary who will please all Democrats

Biden concludes his remarks to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov 19, 2020.
Biden concludes his remarks to reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov 19, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

WILMINGTON, DELAWARE (AFP, REUTERS) - President-elect Joe Biden said on Thursday (Nov 19) he had selected a person to run the Treasury Department and would reveal his choice as soon as next week.

“We’ve made that decision,” Biden told a news conference.

“And you’ll find it is someone who I think will be accepted by all elements of the Democratic Party... progressive to the moderate coalitions.”

He said he would disclose his pick for Treasury secretary either before or after next Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday.

Candidates on Biden’s shortlist include former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, current Fed Governor Lael Brainard, Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former Fed governor, and Raphael Bostic, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. 

Biden’s Treasury nominee, who must be confirmed by the US Senate, may face an agenda of historic depth and breadth, fighting health and economic crises while pursuing the lofty goals the president-elect set during his campaign.

Biden’s candidate would take over from Steven Mnuchin, who has presided over the White House’s response to the devastating economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Mnuchin worked with lawmakers in Congress to pass the US$2.2 trillion (S$2.96 trillion) Cares Act earlier in the year, which helped the economy recover from the mass layoffs and sharp contraction in growth caused by the pandemic. 

However key provisions of that Act – such as a programme of loans and grants to small businesses as well as expanded unemployment payments – expired over the summer, raising fears that the United States will endure a new slowdown in growth as virus cases spike nationwide. 

Negotiations between Democrats and Republicans in Congress along with Mnuchin on passing another stimulus measure have been deadlocked for months.

Biden also said he supported the way the Federal Reserve had managed interest rate policy.

“I think it’s been positive so far,” Biden said about the Fed’s interest rate policies.

He also said he would not order a nationwide shutdown to fight the Covid-19 pandemic despite a surge in cases, describing such a move as "counterproductive".