January 13, 2021
Consumer Technology Association president and chief executive Gary Shapiro held a conversation with the incoming Biden administration’s designated director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese. In that position, Deese will advise President-elect Joe Biden on domestic and international economic policy and coordinate the administration’s economic agenda. “Taking the vision and direction of the president and turning it into an action plan across all agencies is particularly important at times of economic crisis,” he said.
Deese, a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, noted that, “we have a unique opportunity to restore science to our decision-making process.” With regard to COVID-19, “our operational challenge to extend vaccines and get them into peoples’ arms will be one of the most complicated and challenging operations in our history.”
He said that supply chain expertise is one opportunity for partnering with the private sector. “Tech companies can also help in combating misinformation and also helping schools reopen safely,” he added (click on the image below to watch the full presentation).
President-elect Biden will focus on building back competitive strength. “We’ve under-resourced our domestic capabilities in R&D and manufacturing for example, Deese said. “Biden has targeted regulatory infrastructure that doesn’t capture our needs, so we’ll be working with Congress.” The “Build Back Better” campaign will “address structural economic issues that have held back our country and drive wage growth and prosperity going forward.”
Measuring success in the past, he said has put too much focus on macroeconomic numbers. “We have to ask if we are growing in ways that exacerbate inequities,” he said “If they persist, they will constrain our long-term growth potential. Our north star is a healthy economy in which growth is being broadly shared.”
When Shapiro pressed Deese on the Biden administration’s stance towards China, he responded that the U.S. “will engage directly with China on their climate change commitments and where we can find ambition together.” Although he wouldn’t comment on specifics of trade and tariff issues, he said that, “China is our most serious global competitor and this competition is one of the central challenges of the century.” Again, he noted that the vision is to invest domestically in U.S. workers, “building industrial strength and planning how to secure supply chains and build economic capability in the U.S.”
“We also want to revitalize our alliances and partnerships around the world,” he said. “When we work with friends for common goals, we can achieve more, [including] putting pressure on Beijing and holding them accountable when they’re breaking the rules.”
With regard to the climate, Deese emphasized that, “ultimately the way we’ll accelerate de-carbonization is to move mountains of private capital, by providing long-term signals so allocators can have confidence it makes sense to invest in low-carbon solutions.” “There’s a value in providing signals of stability,” he said.
That includes building skills for high-school graduates. “What we see from the data is that regional differences are due to the lack of on-ramps and inability to get the skills,” he said, adding that partnership with union apprenticeship programs and strengthening community colleges are two key goals.