Joe Biden Renominates Jerome Powell as Fed Chair: Speech Transcript

Speaker 1: (00:36)
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, accompanied by Chair Jerome Powell and Governor Lael Brainard.

Joe Biden: (00:53)
Good afternoon, please, please sit down.

Joe Biden: (00:57)
Before I begin, I want to comment on the tragedy that occurred last night during the holiday parade in Wisconsin. While we don’t have all the facts and details yet, we know this morning that five families in Waukesha are facing fresh grief of a life without a loved one. At least for 40 Americans are suffering from injuries, some of them in critical condition. And an entire community is struggling, struggling to cope with the horrific act of violence. Last night, the people of Waukesha were gathered to celebrate the start of a season of hope and togetherness and Thanksgiving. This morning, Jill and I, the entire Biden family and I’m sure all of us pray that that same spirit’s going to embrace and lift up all the victims of this tragedy, bringing comfort to those recovering from the injuries and wrapping the families of those who died in the support of their community. We’re all grateful, the extraordinary work are the first responders from law enforcement to emergency room doctors who are working around the clock to deal with the terrible consequences of what happened last night. My administration is monitoring the situation very closely.

Joe Biden: (02:19)
But now let me turn to today’s announcement. 20 months ago, the COVID-19 pandemic exploded in America, creating the worst economic crisis we faced since the Great Depression, wreaking havoc not only on our economy, but the economies across the world. In just two months, over 20 million Americans lost their jobs and unemployment rate shot up to 14.8%, the highest ever recorded in America. And all remember the scenes, major cities and small towns, main streets that looked like ghost towns, boarded up businesses, empty roads, empty highways, empty airports, and empty train stations. Offices were closed, schools were closed and hospitals were taken to the breaking point. When you remember the depths of the crisis we faced, it’s all the more amazing, the progress that we’ve made since then. We’ve gone from an economy that was shut down to an economy that’s leading the world in economic growth. We’ve gone from small businesses being shuttered to a record number of new small businesses starting up. And we’ve gone from a devastating job destruction to record new job creation.

Joe Biden: (03:37)
Don’t get me wrong, we still the long way to go to fully recover from all the pain and destruction caused by the pandemic. And we’re still dealing with the difficult challenges and complications caused by COVID-19 that are driving up costs for American families. I know for a lot of Americans, things are still very hard, very hard. If you look at all the facts, all the facts, you can only come to one conclusion. We’ve made enormous progress in this country. First and foremost, our economy is creating jobs, lots of jobs. In fact, we’ve seen a record new job growth in America this year, 5.6 million jobs just since I was sworn in, in January the 20th. More jobs created at this point in a new presidency than ever before in American history. We have seen a dramatic drop in the unemployment rate from a high of 14.8% in April of 2020 to 4.6% today. Earlier this year, independent experts were predicting it would take until the end of 2023 to see unemployment that low.

Joe Biden: (04:51)
Our economy is creating new businesses, lots of new businesses. In fact, Americans are starting small businesses at a record rate, up 30 per percent compared to before the pandemic. Economists will tell you that an increase in new business is one of the best signs of an economy, an economy that’s becoming more innovative and more dynamic. And that’s because small businesses aren’t just the heart and soul America, they’re not just the bedrock of so many communities across the country. America’s small businesses are the primary job creators, innovators and drivers, that power economic progress. That’s why it’s a powerful statement of the faith that we have in our country, where our country and our economy is heading. That small business creation is surging, surging in America today. Which is why I’m proud to say, if you look at my presidency so far, it’s a jobs presidency and it’s a small business presidency.

Joe Biden: (05:53)
So, if you look at the facts, here’s what the record shows. Record job creation, record economic growth, record new small business creation. That’s the story that should give us confidence about the economy that we’re building. Confidence in ourself. Confidence in the future. Now, after years of wages being flat or falling behind, we’re also seeing something else. Things are getting better for American workers, higher wages, better benefits, more flexible schedules. Balance sheets for American families are better as well. Savings are up. Home equity is up. Credit card balances are down. And if you continue you and combine the wage increases, we’ve seen with the direct relief my administration has provided to middle class families. The typical and middle class family’s disposable income has actually gone up 2% this year, even after accounting for higher prices. That’s the kind of recovery just one year after are crippling worldwide economic crisis, that’s unprecedented. It makes us stand out from the rest of the world.

Joe Biden: (07:08)
America’s the only major economy, the only one in the world, where the economy is bigger today and families have more money in their pockets today than before the pandemic hit. That’s even after accounting for inflation. None of our competitors internationally can say that, none. It’s a testament to the hard work and perseverance of the American people. It’s a testament to the effective of the vaccines and our vaccination effort. And it’s a testament to the economic policies we fought so hard to pass and put in pace, especially the American Rescue Plan. And it’s a testament to the Federal Reserve.

Joe Biden: (07:46)
But for all the progress we’ve made, we know we still are faced challenges, serious challenges. We know there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty in the country. We know it’s tough for families to keep up with the rising cost of gasoline, food, housing, and other essentials. It’s not just an American problem, it’s a worldwide problem. It doesn’t make any easier for Americans, but it’s a worldwide problem. Every country is dealing with the same problems emerging from the pandemic. Supply chain bottlenecks, disruption caused by spikes in COVID-19 elevated prices. They’re all taking a bite out of our family budgets. Perhaps no entity pays a more important role in navigating these challenges than the Federal Reserve, because it’s the Fed’s job to balance two key goals. The first is to maximum employment, to get as many Americans working as possible. And the second is to keep inflation low and stable. To meet these goals it’s going to require patience, skill and independence. That’s why today I’m nominating Jerome Powell for a second term as Chair of the Federal Reserve and I’m nominating Lael Brainard to take the position as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve.

Joe Biden: (09:11)
When our country was hemorrhaging jobs lasts year and there was panic in our financial markets, [Jay’s 00:10:59] steady and decisive leadership helped to stabilize markets and put our economy on track to a robust recovery. Jay is a believer in the benefits of what economists call maximum employment. That’s an economy where companies have to compete to attract workers instead of workers competing with each other for jobs, where American workers get steady wage increases after decades of stagnation and where the benefits of economic growth are broadly shared by everyone in the country, not just concentrated it for those at the top.

Joe Biden: (09:54)
Jay said it well last month and I’m going to quote him. He said, and I quote, “An economy is healthier and stronger on as many people as possible were able to work. If entrenched inequities prevent some Americans for participating fully in our labor markets, not only will they be held back from opportunities, but the economy overall will not realize its potential. And those who have historically been left behind stand the best chance of prospering in a strong economy with plentiful job opportunities.” End of quote, as Chair Jerome took a landmark review to reinforce the Federal Reserve’s mission toward delivering full employment, we’re making strong pro toward that goal now, and I believe Jay is the right person to see us through and finish that effort. While also addressing the threat of inflation that it opposes to our families and to our economy.

Joe Biden: (10:49)
Jay and I have had a chance to discuss his views on priorities for the Federal Reserve in the years ahead, he’s made clear a top priority will be to accelerate the Fed’s effort to address and mitigate the risk that climate change poses to our financial system and our economy. Extreme weather has cost our economy over 600 billion over the last 10 years. We have to make sure our financial system can stand climate change and is prepared to transition to clean energy. The Fed must be a leader among central banks globally in addressing climate related financial risk. He’s also underscored the importance of the Fed taking a more proactive role in the months and years ahead and making sure that our financial regulations are staying ahead of emerging risk, be they from innovations and cryptocurrency or the practice of less regulated non-bank financial institutions.

Joe Biden: (11:49)
Having served as vice president during the depths of the 2009 financial crisis, having worked with President Obama to put in place a stronger financial rules of the road, I understand the stakes of our regulators falling asleep at the switch. Jay along with the other members of the Fed board that I will nominate, must ensure that we never again expose our economy and American families to those kinds of risks. I respect Jay’s independence. And I also trust that he will follow through on his commitment to prioritize these issues with the skill that he has shown in his service to date.

Joe Biden: (12:28)
Now, some will no doubt question why I’m renominating Jay, when he was the choice of a Republican predecessor, why am I not picking a Democrat? Why am I not picking fresh blood or taking the Fed in a different direction? Put directly at this moment of both enormous potential and enormous uncertainty for our economy we need stability and independence at the Federal Reserve. Jay has proven the independence that I value in the Fed chair. In the last administration he stood up to unprecedented political interference and doing so successfully maintain the integrity and credibility of this institution. It’s just one of the many reasons why Jay has support for from across the political spectrum.

Joe Biden: (13:16)
In 2018, he was confirmed with 84 votes in the United States Senate. His approach as Fed chair has earned the respect and support of groups from the AFLCIO to the Business Roundtable, which brings me to one more reason I’ve chosen to renominate Jay. I believe having Fed leadership with a broad bipartisan support is important, especially now in such a politically divided nation. I believe we need to do everything we can to take the bitter partisanship of today’s politics out of something as important as the independence and credibility Federal Reserve. This is vital to maintaining public trust in an independent institution like the Federal Reserve. And that is why I’m so proud as well to nominate Dr. Lael Brainard to serve as vice chair of the Federal Reserve.

Joe Biden: (14:12)
By promoting Lael today to vice chair, I’m elevating one of the country’s most qualified and dedicated public servants. She’s one of the nation’s leading macro economist. She spent years at the Treasury Department representing American capitals around the world on international economic issues. And she spent nearly the last decade as a member of the Fed most recently side by side, with Jay, as the Fed navigated historic economic and financial crises and reaffirmed his commitment to a full employment economy. Throughout her time at the Fed, Lael’s also made a steadfast voice for tough rules to protect the pensions and savings and American people. She’s led the Fed’s efforts to make sure banking system serves everyone in the communities they serve, so that regardless of where you live or your background, every American can have access to credit they need to start a business, buy a home and just have a fair chance in life. She’s done pioneering work in how the Fed should account for the emerging risk of climate change to our financial system. And like Jay, her expertise and leadership have earned her the respect and support of Republicans and Democrats alike. I’m proud to nominate her to the vital role of vice chair of the Federal Reserve.

Joe Biden: (15:37)
Beyond Jay and Lael, I look forward in the coming weeks to nominating additional members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, including a new vice chair for supervision. These individuals will help safeguard our financial system and alongside Jay and Lael’s leadership help to support and continue this historic economic recovery. While Jay and Lael bring continuity and stability to the Fed, my additions will bring new perspectives and new voices. I also pledge that my additions will bring new diversity to the Fed, which is much needed and long overdo in my view.

Joe Biden: (16:15)
Last year the pandemic shut down much of the global economy. Now there’s a worldwide reawakening and it’s creating both an incredible opportunities and tough challenges. As economies all across the world, come back from this pandemic, America’s leading the way. Like every country in the world we have to deal with these issues of rising cost, but we should remember we have the skill and tools to get it under control. While other countries are stumbling out of this pandemic, we’re racing ahead. Because so much of the rest of our economy is doing well because we have created so many new jobs as fast as we have, we’re in a position to attack inflation from the position of strength, not weakness. In times like these we need steady tested principle leadership of the Fed. We need people with sound judgment of proven courage to the independence of the Fed. And we need people of character and integrity who can be trusted to keep their focus on the right long term goals of our country for our country. I’m confident Jay and Lael are those people.

Joe Biden: (17:29)
Now I’d like to give both Jay and Lael an opportunity to say a few words, and we’re going to start with Jay, and then I’m to turn to Lael. Jay, the floor is yours. You’re over this side.

Chair Jerome Powell: (17:38)
Mr. President, thank you for this extraordinary opportunity to continue to serve the American people. If confirmed by the Senate, I pledge to do everything within my power to meet the responsibilities that Congress has entrusted to the Federal Reserve. I’m joined today, by my wife, Elissa Leonard, and our three adult children, Susie, Lucy, and Sam and Sam’s wife, Alyssa, their love and support underpin and make possible all that I do. I’m also grateful to the exceptionally talented and dedicated team at the Federal Reserve with whom it has been my great privilege to serve over the last decade. My predecessor, Secretary Janet Yellen, left the Fed in his strong position to meet every challenge. And I’m thankful for leadership, her example, and her friendship.

Chair Jerome Powell: (18:35)
When COVID hit our shores, American families and businesses were 10 years into historic economic expansion, with a robust jobs market that was reaching even those who had traditionally been left out. The pandemic, however, brought an immediate and painful recession. Fortunately American resilience, along with strong policy actions and vaccines that enabled the economy’s reopening, cushioned the blows and set the stage for a strong recovery. Today, the economy is expanding at its fastest pace in many years, carrying the promise of a return to maximum employment. Challenges and opportunities remain, as always. The unprecedented reopening of the economy, along with the continuing effects of the pandemic led to supply and demand and balances, bottlenecks, and a burst of inflation. We know that high inflation takes a toll on families, especially those less able to meet the higher cost of essentials like food, housing, and transportation. And we use our tools both to support the economy in a strong labor market and to prevent higher inflation from becoming entrenched.

Chair Jerome Powell: (19:46)
Other key priorities include vigilantly guarding the resilience and stability of the financial system, addressing evolving risks from climate change and cyber attacks and facilitating the modernization of the payment system while protecting consumers. I look forward very much to continuing to work closely with my colleague of the past seven years, Lael Brainard, as the Fed confronts these in other issues. Lael brings formidable talent, a wealth of experience and good judgment to our work.

Chair Jerome Powell: (20:16)
Inside the Federal Reserve we understand that our decisions matter for American families and communities. I strongly share that sense of mission, and I’m committed to making those decisions with objectivity and with integrity based on the best available evidence in the longstanding tradition of monetary policy independence. Mr. President, thank you again.

Joe Biden: (20:44)
Now I’d like to give the forward to Dr. Brainard.

Dr. Lael Brainard: (20:56)
Mr. President, thank you. I’m deeply honored that you’re entrusting me with this responsibility at a critical time. I’m committed to putting, working Americans at the center of my work at the Federal Reserve. This means getting in full down at a time when people are focused on their jobs and how far their paychecks will go. It means supporting a growing economy that includes everyone. It means ensuring that financial markets are thriving and resilient and the economy is sustainable for future generations. It means serving all Americans in every the community across the country and ensuring the Federal Reserve reflects the diversity of the communities we serve. I was privileged to work with Chair Powell, as we made every effort to protect workers, businesses and families from the COVID financial shock with the support of Congress. And I look forward to working with him in the months and years ahead to build a durable recovery.

Dr. Lael Brainard: (21:55)
I also want to thank Secretary Yellen with whom I’ve also been privileged to work. I’m grateful to the many people who have supported my efforts. As a working mom I’m especially grateful for the love and support of my three dynamic daughters, Caelan, Ciara, [Co-co 00:22:11] who took the afternoon off from school. My deeply devoted husband, Kurt, Aunt Vivian, my sisters, and my amazing mother, Joanne, who’s here with me today. I’m confident that by working together, we will see a strong recovery for all Americans. Thank you.

Joe Biden: (22:31)
Thank you. Folks, that’s it. Hope you have a happy Thanksgiving. I thank the families of the two nominees for being willing to support their work and what they have to do. It’s going to be long hours, as you all already know. Long efforts. And I thank the families. Thank you all.

Joe Biden: (22:49)
[crosstalk 00:22:49].

Speaker 5: (22:49)
Okay. Press Let’s move.

Speaker 7: (22:49)
All right. Thanks Press.

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