Top Biden economic adviser to leave White House

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Brian Deese, the top White House economic adviser to President Biden for the past two years, will depart the White House in the coming days, the president announced Thursday.

Deese served as the director of the National Economic Council and helped craft Biden’s economic agenda. He was also a key player in negotiations with Congress on major legislation Biden signed during his first two years in office, including the Inflation Reduction Act, which contained several of Biden’s major priorities on climate change and health care.

“When I took office, we faced high unemployment, an economy in crisis, and main streets shuttered across the country. I knew we needed to not just get families back to work and businesses re-opened, we needed to rebuild our economy so no one was left behind,” Biden said in a statement.

“For the past two years, I have relied on Brian Deese to help me do just that,” Biden continued. “Brian has a unique ability to translate complex policy challenges into concrete actions that improve the lives of American people. He has helped steer my economic vision into reality, and managed the transition of our historic economic recovery to steady and stable growth.”

Biden credited Deese with playing an integral role in passing some of the most significant pieces of economic legislation of his term thus far, including the bipartisan infrastructure law that was passed in 2021 and the CHIPS and Science Act, which was passed last year and will boost manufacturing in semiconductor chips.

Deese, who had been commuting to Washington, D.C., from New England, where his wife and two children live, had been rumored since last year’s midterm elections to be a likely candidate to depart the administration.

He joins former chief of staff Ron Klain as the second major Biden White House official to depart in the new year.

It is not yet clear who will replace Deese to lead the National Economic Council. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard and Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo are considered two of the likeliest candidates.

Deese departs his role at a time when Biden and his team are bullish on the economy ahead of a likely 2024 reelection campaign. They have repeatedly pointed to low unemployment numbers and steadily falling inflation over the past few months, which have soothed some recession fears among economists.

But Deese’s replacement will still contend with an uncertain economic outlook and will be involved in a looming fight with congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling.

Lawmakers likely have until some time in June to reach a deal to lift the debt ceiling before the federal government defaults on it debt. Economists have warned that a default, or even the specter of it, would send the economy into a tailspin, reducing government services, roiling markets and damaging the country’s credibility.

Biden on Wednesday met with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to discuss the debt ceiling. McCarthy emerged optimistic about a potential agreement, while the White House said Biden indicated he would be open to discussing spending cuts as a separate issue from raising the debt limit.

Updated at 10:48 a.m.

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