White House to tap Lael Brainard, Jared Bernstein as top economic advisors

Lael Brainard, vice chair of the US Federal Reserve, prior to taking the oath of office during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 23, 2022.

Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The White House will likely appoint Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard to run the National Economic Council and Jared Bernstein to lead the Council of Economic Advisers, sources familiar with the matter tell CNBC.

Both roles are integral to shaping Biden administration economic policy as the U.S. tries to tame high costs of living across the country. The appointments are expected to be announced after incoming White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients assumes his role, as soon as next week.

Sources stressed to CNBC that the decisions are not final. Politico earlier reported that the appointments were nearly finalized. CNBC reported last week that Brainard was among the top picks.

“There is no decision on either of these positions, and any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate,” White House spokeswoman Emilie Simons told CNBC.

Brainard has a history of supporting stricter regulation of Wall Street, bucking many proposals to lift rules put in place after the Great Recession. She has expressed interest in how climate change is affecting the financial sector. Biden previously considered her to serve as Treasury secretary or as a replacement for Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

The appointment of Brainard as the White House’s chief economic policy coordinator would burnish ties between the West Wing and the Treasury Department, which have at times been fraught with disagreement, according to people familiar with the matter. Brainard and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who has said she intends to helm Treasury until the end of Biden’s term, served together on the Federal Reserve for three years. From 2009 to 2013, Brainard served as under secretary of the Treasury and previously held NEC deputy roles.

While the day-to-day responsibilities of the role include crafting the president’s economic agenda and coordinating among the government’s labyrinthine agencies, it is also seen as position of esteem that can serve as a gateway to top Cabinet positions. Robert Rubin, who ran NEC from 1993 to 1995, was later appointed Treasury secretary by President Bill Clinton. Lawrence Summers, who succeeded Rubin at Treasury, took the reverse path: he returned to government to run the National Economic Council in 2009 for President Barack Obama.

Bernstein is a member of the board he is expected to head, the White House Council of Economic Advisers. He has been a longtime Biden ally, serving as his chief economist and economic advisor during the Obama administration. His position will require Senate confirmation, the chances of which increased when Democrats secured a 51-seat majority.

Halfway through his term as president, Biden has appointed several new people to top roles. The White House is holding a ceremony on Wednesday to thank outgoing White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain and welcome Zients to the position.

Zients previously served as the White House Covid-19 response coordinator under Biden and an economic advisor to former President Barack Obama.

Current White House NEC Director Brian Deese is expected to depart imminently, sources said. On a call Tuesday evening to preview Wednesday’s meeting of the White House Competition Council, which Deese has led, NTIA administrator Alan Davidson praised his work and thanked him for his service in the administration.

Deese did not respond to a request for comment.

The White House has also considered Sylvia Mathews Burwell, president of American University; Gene Sperling, a White House senior advisor and prior NEC director; and Bharat Ramamurti, the NEC’s current deputy director, for the NEC director role.

Read More:White House to tap Lael Brainard, Jared Bernstein as top economic advisors

2023-02-01 18:36:35

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