President-elect Joe Biden has settled on Brian Deese, a senior Obama administration official with Wall Street ties and climate policy expertise, as his top economic adviser.
According to Axios, Biden plans to tap Deese, 42, as director of the National Economic Council, bringing him back to the White House after three years as head of the sustainable investing group at investment giant BlackRock.
As an aide to President Barack Obama, Deese played a key role in negotiating the Paris agreement on climate change. At BlackRock, he focused on driving funds into sustainable investments like clean energy.
“Mr. Deese will play a lead role in implementing Mr. Biden’s economic agenda, with a focus on rebuilding the economy amid a pandemic that has devastated many U.S. businesses and resulted in millions of lost jobs,” The Wall Street Journal said.
During the Obama administration, Deese served as deputy director of both the NEC and the Office of Management and Budget. According to Politico, he is “widely popular among Democratic policy hands.”
“He has just proven himself to be an effective champion for transitioning the economy to be a cleaner economy,” John Podesta, a former counselor to Obama, said. “There is no question in my mind that he will campaign aggressively on behalf of the environment.”
Some progressives are skeptical, citing Deese’s Wall Street ties. “Brian Deese’s [relationship] to BlackRock makes it less likely that the federal government will rein in BlackRock as it should be,” said Jeff Hauser, who founded the Revolving Door Project to scrutinize executive branch appointees.
But former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy told the WSJ that she considers Deese to be “one of the smartest climate advocates that I ever had the pleasure to work with. If anybody says he isn’t a climate advocate, I can dispute that.”
Biden had also reportedly been considering Roger Ferguson, a former Federal Reserve vice chair, to lead the NEC. If selected, he would have been the first African American in that role.