Biden economic nominee says will work to stop Americans "falling through the cracks"

FILE PHOTO: Cecilia Rouse, U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, speaks as President-elect Biden announces nominees and appointees to serve on his economic policy team at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 1, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The deep economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic gives the United States an opportunity to rebuild a more equitable economy, President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the White House Council of Economic Advisers told senators on Thursday.

Princeton University economist Cecilia Rouse said in prepared testimony for her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee that COVID-19 has caused too many Americans to lose economic security.

“Far too many have slipped through our frayed safety net into hardship and hopelessness,” Rouse said. “And structural inequities that have always existed within our economy have not just been exposed, but exacerbated, their impact more devastating than ever before.”

As head of Biden’s top economic advisory body, she said she would focus less on “average” outcomes, which have created an economy that has become more unequal.

“That analysis fails to capture the experience of many people who are left behind, particularly people of color. Therefore, one of my priorities as Chair will be to try to understand how policies will impact all those in our country as we strive to ensure the economy works for everyone.”

Rouse, 57, would be the first Black economist to chair the Council of Economic Advisers. She served on the council in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011, the worst years of the previous economic crisis, and also served in a Clinton White House economic policy post.

She said in testimony that she was drawn to the field as a Harvard undergraduate during the early 1980s recession, when unemployment was rising, focusing her work on the labor market and the impact of education on people’s job prospects and income security.

She said the Biden administration must take action to shepherd the U.S. economy on a solid footing.

“But as deeply distressing as this pandemic and economic fallout have been, it is also an opportunity to rebuild the economy better than it was before — making it work for everyone by increasing the availability of fulfilling jobs and leaving no one vulnerable to falling through the cracks.”

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