A key member of President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team says the new administration will make a priority of investing in infrastructure, protecting American companies and jobs, and reducing the emissions that contribute to climate change.
Brian Deese, the incoming director of the National Economic Council, which will make him Biden’s top adviser on economic policy, said during a session that was part of the virtual CES, noted the U.S. currently is facing a grave economic crisis that must be addressed.
“We are in the midst of an economic crisis. The choices we make will have a profound impact,” said Deese, who also served as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and with the White House-based NEC during the Obama administration. “What I learned in 2009 is the risk of doing too little is greater than the risk of doing too much,” he said.
The Biden administration intends to re-join the Paris climate accord immediately after the inauguration and plans to encourage U.S. allies to take a broader and more aggressive approach to addressing climate change.
Limiting climate change and the emissions that contribute to it as well as “de-carbonizing” the economy – reducing the U.S. dependence on oil, gas and coal – are key priorities for the new administration, Deese said.
It will also use a multi-lateral approach to dealing with China, he said, and settling trade disputes. The U.S. needs a more “coherent” approach to dealing with China, which has shut out American technology firms. At the same, time the new administration will encourage companies to diversify their supply chains.
China is the U.S. chief global competitor this century and the challenge can only be addressed by boosting the U.S. economy’s ability to innovate and produce. “We need to rebuild our own capacity by investing domestically in our people,” he said.
At the same time, Deese said the administration favors more investment in infrastructure where the U.S has “underinvested” and making larger investments in the science that supports innovation by the private sector. “We will rely on science,” he added.
The production of the vaccines to inoculate Americans from COVID-19 are a testament to American innovation, Deese noted. Distributing the vaccines, however, will be a “costly and complicated” challenge.
The U.S. emphasis in expanding technical challenges in artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles, which the Trump administration carried over from the Obama years, will remain a priority for the new administration, Deese said.
Deese also said the lens through which Biden sees the crisis is “what benefits American workers and families.” The new administration’s efforts to “build back better” will require a greater emphasis on equity, including more training and more opportunity for minority and disadvantaged communities to participate in the opportunities in a growing economy.
The new administration plans to press companies to treat their workers better.
“We have to treat workers with dignity,” he said. “We have to consider all the stakeholders not just the shareholders,” he said.