It is common for a White House to make changes in personnel after midterm elections. It is not unusual for members of a White House staff to head for the exit, especially in an unpopular administration, like the Biden administration. Rumors are flying about possible changes, including Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary. Is she heading for the exit?
Reporting indicated that Yellen was hinting that she was ready to move on after the midterms. Axios reported that the White House was quietly preparing for the potential of Yellen’s exit. It would be a high-profile departure that might provide Republicans and other critics of Biden’s economic team fodder to point to the failures of their decisions on the economy. Then the White House came out and denied that Yellen would be leaving. Team Biden wants to wait and see which party wins control of the Senate in November.
While her potential departure would give Biden an opportunity to respond to public concern over his handling of the economy, it would also create an immediate political headache: finding a successor who can be confirmed by the Senate.
The process is in the early stages and a decision on Yellen, or any Cabinet replacement, has not been made. Multiple sources stressed the outcome of November’s election, including who controls the Senate, will factor into whether she stays.
Yellen will also have some say in her fate, and with the world’s economy teetering, there could be a convincing case for her to stay.
This is just one more reason why it is so important for Republicans to gain a seat in the midterm elections to take control of the Senate. With Republicans in charge of the Senate, they control the nomination confirmation of whomever Biden chooses to replace any cabinet member, including the treasury secretary. Team Biden doesn’t want Republican criticism on its economic decisions, though the majority of Americans do not approve of Biden’s handling of the economy. The majority party in the Senate can hold up a nomination until the White House drops it and nominates someone else.
Another possible departure after the midterm elections in November is Brian Deese, director of the National Economic Council. Look for Gene Sperling to move into that spot. Sperling has been conducting television interviews in recent weeks, including on Fox News Channel. Sperling was director of the National Economic Council and assistant to Presidents Clinton and Obama for economic policy. He is the only person to serve as national economic advisor under two presidents. It looks as though Sperling is going for the spot in the Biden administration.
Deese’s departure would present an opportunity for Gene Sperling, who is currently coordinating the implementation of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, to serve an unprecedented third term as NEC director after holding that post in the Clinton and Obama administrations.
Cecilia Rouse, the chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, is also expected to return to her academic post in the spring of 2023, opening up another Cabinet-level economic position.
Last week, Axios reported that Chief of Staff Ron Klain has asked former administration oficials Jeff Zients and Natalie Quillan to do a talent search for replacements of cabinet members and top administration officials. Klain, as we all know, runs the White House. Any of these positions will require Senate confirmation.
Lily Adams, a Treasury spokesperson, said that Yellen has no plans to leave. White House senior advisor Anita Dunn provided cover for both Yellen and Deese. “While we are prudently planning for potential transitions post-midterm, neither Secretary Yellen or Brian Deese are part of those plans.”
Janet Yellen has tried to avoid playing politics and that has angered members of Team Biden. She frequently disagrees with the White House on economic issues and doesn’t agree with Biden’s stance when he blames corporations for increasing inflation. She also was not in favor of Biden’s student debt forgiveness move. Yellen is best known for getting the rise of inflation wrong – she called inflation “transitory” and later admitted she was wrong as it became clear that inflation continued to rise on her watch and shows not signs of going away any time soon. The White House was angry that she apologized for her miscalculation of the situation. Yellen also said it was a good idea for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates.
Democrats are holding on to the hope that abortion is the top issue with voters in November but that is not what polling is now showing. Republicans must continue to drive home the administration’s policies are sending the economy over a cliff. Inflation and the economy are the top issues with voters. This bodes well for Republicans in November. The Biden administration knows this and are said to be sending Yellen out to deliver their economic messages. Yellen is 76 years old and not exactly known for having much charisma when she speaks. Will people come out to listen to her? Remember, she doesn’t like the political angle of her decisions. Will she follow White House talking points on the road?
One reason the Biden administration may try to keep Yellen on is the fact that world economic leaders and central bankers respect Yellen. She has years of experience and can battle the storms.
It will be interesting to watch the shake-out at the White House after November. Who will be the first cabinet member to go in this very unpopular administration?