Janet Yellen nominated to be Treasury Secretary as Biden rolls out Cabinet picks

Onur Toper, Staff Writer

President-elect Joe Biden has begun to shape his Cabinet over the past several weeks with important positions being announced to the American people. 

Notably, Janet Yellen was nominated to be Treasury Secretary. The 74-year old economist is incredibly qualified and experienced, holding a degree in economics from Brown University and a Ph.D in economics from Yale University. She served as the Chair of the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018, the Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisors under President Bill Clinton, and in other high-level economic posts. 

She was nominated by President Obama to the Fed Chair position, being the first woman to hold that role. She made inequality a focus during her time as Chair and sought to raise attention to the impact of monetary policy on the working people of our country. She began to raise interest rates during her term and paved the way for a strong economy with low unemployment and a healthy labor market. In a break of precedent, she was not renominated by President Trump in 2018, instead replaced by current chair Jerome Powell. She is highly regarded by most, if not all, people on both sides of the aisle. 

She will now play a vital role in helping the United States recover from the economic recession caused by the coronavirus. Millions of Americans are out of work and unemployment hit a historic high in the spring with a 14.7% rate which has now dipped to 6.7%. Yellen recognizes these challenges but remains adamant on her ability to steer our country in the right direction. “We face great challenges as a country right now. To recover, we must restore the American dream — a society where each person can rise to their potential and dream even bigger for their children,” she wrote. “As Treasury Secretary, I will work every day towards rebuilding that dream for all.”

Yellen will become the first person to head the Treasury department, Federal Reserve, and White House Council of Economic Advisers. She will also be the first woman to hold the position of Treasury Secretary, a feat that has excited many across the nation, including people here at Saint Joseph High School. Former members of Fed Challenge, a high school competition in which students present monetary policy recommendations to Federal Reserve economists, were featured in the Washington Post in an article about Yellen’s impact on females in the field of economics; Head Coach Julia Chismar, a former Saint Joe Economics teacher who still coaches the program, was also included. 

My reaction was pure elation, and the first people I thought of were my Fed Challenge teammates, and the women especially

— Clare Firth

Saint Joe graduate Clare Firth, 23, added, “And I knew Ms. Chismar was over the moon about this, because we have fan-girled over Janet Yellen for so many years.”

A similar ecstatic reaction came from Ms. Chismar, who tweeted “I am honored to be included with these women who are following in the footsteps of Janet Yellen.” 

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

The President-elect has also announced other top positions in his cabinet. His longtime aide Antony Blinken was nominated as Secretary of State; he comes from a depth of diplomatic experience having been deputy national security adviser and deputy Secretary of State during the Obama administration. 

Other top picks reflect a strength in experience, as well a diversity that reflects the United States. These choices include Alejando Mayorkas who was nominated to be Secretary of Homeland Security, who will become the first Latino to hold the position. Avril Haines was nominated to be Director of National Intelligence, making her the first woman to hold the role. Lloyd Austin will be the first Black Defense Secretary; and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra was nominated to be Health and Human Service Secretary and will become the first Latino to hold the role. 

Saint Joseph Graduate Pete Buttigieg is still in the mix for a role in the administration, with a new report by Axios saying he might be nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to China, while other sources say he could be tapped to lead the Department of Commerce. Buttigieg has apparently expressed to the Biden team that he prefers a foreign policy or national security role, making an ambassadorship ideal for the former Mayor. 

With less than six weeks until inauguration day, the incoming administration is gearing up to deal with pressing issues like the COVID-19 Pandemic, an economic recession, and other dilemmas that will be front and center as the Biden-Harris team takes over on January 20th.