On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department ‘improperly presented’ jobless data

On The Money: Biden announces key members of economic team | GOP open to Yellen as Treasury secretary, opposed to budget pick | GAO: Labor Department ‘improperly presented’ jobless data

Happy Monday and welcome back to On The Money, where we hope you had a safe and healthy Thanksgiving. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

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THE BIG DEAL—Biden’s economic team gets mixed reviews from Senate Republicans:

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump rages against ’60 Minutes’ for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has ‘no chance’ of being confirmed as Biden’s OMB pick Five things to know about Georgia’s Senate runoffs MORE on Monday announced his choices for key members of his economic team, with Senate Republicans complimenting one of his top picks and bashing another.

Biden said he would nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Mastercard – Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread Biden to nominate Neera Tanden, Cecilia Rouse to economic team: WSJ Monumental economic challenges await Biden’s Treasury secretary MORE to serve as Treasury secretary and Neera Tanden, the president of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, for director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

  • Yellen, who was last confirmed by the Senate in 2014 when Democrats were in the majority, earned positive remarks from some GOP senators on Monday.
  • Tanden, meanwhile, had already drawn swift backlash, signaling a rough road ahead for her.

If confirmed, both Yellen and Tanden would play crucial roles in the administration’s efforts to repair the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. I have more on their prospects and the rest of Biden’s pending nominations here.

Biden’s economic team takes shape: 

  • Biden also announced he would nominate Cecilia Rouse, dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), the president’s internal economic analysis team.
  • The president-elect will tap campaign adviser and former chief economist Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey, co-founder of the progressive Washington Center for Equitable Growth, as members of the CEA.
  • Rounding out Monday’s announcements was Wally Adeyemo, Biden’s pick for deputy Treasury secretary.

“As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,” Biden said in a statement.

Early priorities: All six of the nominees announced Monday have extensive experience in areas prioritized by Biden and highlighted by the pandemic-driven recession, the worst since the Great Depression.

  • Yellen’s expertise in labor market economics could prove crucial to the Biden administration’s efforts to reduce high unemployment and undo massive setbacks for women and minorities in the workforce.
  • Rouse’s focus on the economics of education comes amid deepening concern about the impact of school closures and telelearning on low-income students.
  • Bernstein and Boushey have both extensively studied how income and wealth inequality, which has been driven higher by COVID-19, harm the broader economy.

Groundbreaking picks: Yellen would be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department, Adeyemo would be the first Black deputy Treasury secretary, Rouse would be the first Black CEA chair and Tanden would be the first woman of color and South Asian American to lead the OMB.

Read more on Biden’s economic team: 

LEADING THE DAY

GAO says the Labor Department ‘improperly presented’ jobless data: The Labor Department’s weekly reports on unemployment claims are relying on “inappropriate” methods and have “improperly presented” data on the number of claimants as a result, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

  • In normal times, the Labor Department uses the number of initial jobless claims that states report each week to estimate the total number of claimants in a given week. 
  • But since the pandemic upended the U.S. economy, that method has led to an inaccurate tally, which is likely overstating the number of people collecting unemployment insurance.

“Because backlogs in processing a historic volume of claims have led to individuals claiming multiple weeks of benefits at a time for previous weeks of unemployment, as well as other data issues, these traditional estimates have not been appropriate in the context of the pandemic,” the GAO found.

In other words, if a single person submits multiple claims over the course of a reporting period — something that would be rare in normal times — the Labor Department’s methods would count each claim as a separate individual claimant. The Hill’s Niv Elis explains here.

On unemployment, in poverty: The GAO also found that thirteen states have allowed unemployment benefits to fall below the poverty level of $245 a week, or $12,760 a year. Niv breaks that down here.

Congress set for chaotic year-end sprint: Congress is set for a chaotic two-week sprint as lawmakers try to wrap up their work for the year.

Both chambers are returning Monday with just 10 working days before the House is set to leave town again and no plans to return until early January.

Lawmakers have to tackle a lengthy to-do list while factoring in the looming wild card of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rages against ’60 Minutes’ for interview with Krebs Cornyn spox: Neera Tanden has ‘no chance’ of being confirmed as Biden’s OMB pick Pa. lawmaker was informed of positive coronavirus test while meeting with Trump: report MORE, whose focus on score-settling on his way out of office has sparked speculation that he could emerge as a major roadblock on must-pass legislation such as government funding before Dec. 12 to avoid a shutdown.

    • Government funding: Congress is facing a Dec. 11 deadline to fund the government and prevent a holiday shutdown, which would be the third of Trump’s presidency.
    • Coronavirus relief: Prospects for another coronavirus relief measure have been stalemated for months amid deep divisions on everything from the price tag to key components such as unemployment insurance and help for state and local governments.
    • Confederate-named bases: Lawmakers need to resolve a fight over a plan to rename Confederate-named bases as part of a massive military policy bill.

The Hill’s Jordain Carney walks us through the list here.

GOOD TO KNOW

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Online shoppers are projected to spend a record-breaking $12.7 billion on Cyber Monday, according to a report by Bloomberg.
  • Italy’s antitrust agency on Monday announced that it had fined Apple roughly $12 million for deceptive marketing about its iPhones.