Pandemic and economic crisis, divided society and climate change, conflicts with China and Russia: the new US administration is facing huge challenges. She is trying to tackle this with a team that is the opposite of the resigning administration of Donald Trump. An overview:
1. More diversity, more women
Joe Biden had promised a cabinet “that looks like America” during the election campaign. He made this promise over and over again. “Men, women, homosexuals, heterosexuals, middle, the whole spectrum, blacks, whites, Asians” – they should all be able to contribute their perspectives to the new US administration. In fact, in the last few weeks Biden has put together a government team that is dedicated to diversity and which clearly sets itself apart from the previous government in terms of ethnicity and migration background. And for the first time, the indigenous population is represented in the US cabinet.
In historical comparison, women are most represented in the Biden government. They make up a third of the cabinet. For the first time, several ministries have women at the top. For example, Janet Yellen, former head of the US Federal Reserve, is the first Secretary of the Treasury. Jennifer Granholm, ex-Michigan governor, is the first woman to lead the Department of Energy. The previous Congresswoman Deb Haaland is not only the first representative of the “Native Americans”, but also the first woman interior minister. Last but not least, Kamala Harris was the first woman and the first non-whites to become Vice President.
Among the government officials who are not ministers but who have cabinet rank is Katherina Tai: The President’s trade representative is an American of Chinese origin. This is an important change in view of the ongoing trade conflicts between the US and China.
2. Blacks and Latinos in top positions
The Biden cabinet is characterized by further historic premieres. For example, retired 4-star General Lloyd Austin is the first African American to take over the Department of Defense. The Ministry of Homeland Security has the first Latino at its head, Alejandro Mayorkas, who came to the USA as a refugee child from Cuba. And last year’s presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is the first openly homosexual minister in the US, he will head the Department of Transportation.
3. Science instead of ideology
Another distinctive feature of the Biden government is its strong focus on science. Biologist and geneticist Eric Lander, previously director of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard University, is the president’s chief science advisor and in that capacity the first to be awarded cabinet rank. According to Biden, Lander and his team of “world-famous scientists” should make sure that “everything we do is based on science, facts and the truth”.
This commitment to science and facts is another striking departure from the Trump administration, which has shown great effort with scientific knowledge and recommendations, especially in combating the corona pandemic. Probably the best known on the science team is the immunologist and disease specialist Anthony Fauci, who has served all presidents since Ronald Reagan.
The new US administration will also follow science in environmental and climate policy. This is shown by the staffing at the Ministry of Energy and the EPA environmental protection agency. With the appointment of former Foreign Minister John Kerry (2013-2017) as special envoy to the climate, the future US president sent a clear signal in the fight against climate change. Immediately after taking office, Biden wants to lead the US back to the 2015 Paris Agreement.
4. Obama Veterans
A return to multilateral cooperation and a commitment to traditional allies are central goals of the new US administration. Biden relies on old companions and acquaintances from the eight years of the Obama presidency. An example of this is the new Foreign Minister Antony Blinken, who served as Deputy Security Advisor (2013-2015) and Deputy Foreign Minister (2015-2017). In general, the State Department is experiencing a new edition of the Obama years due to the previous personnel decisions. And at the foreign intelligence service CIA, William Burns, a former deputy foreign minister (2011-2014), is to take over the leadership.
The very important Treasury Department is headed by a woman, Janet Yellen, whom Barack Obama nominated in 2010 as Vice-Chair of the US Central Bank and in 2014 as head of the FED. Yellen represents the Keynesian credo, according to which the state must play an active role in economic crises. Cecilia Rouse is envisaged as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. The Princeton professor had already belonged to this body in the first Obama term in office.
5. Moderate Democrats
Biden had appeared as a moderate democrat during the election campaign. But he also owed his election victory over Trump to the left wing of his party. Nevertheless, the progressives were not taken into account in the formation of the government. Their figureheads – the Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – have no place in the new cabinet. Even with the Democrats, they are not politicians with a majority.
The Biden / Harris government team includes 15 ministers and ten other cabinet officials. With the exception of three officials, such as the special envoy for the climate, all ministers and their other government colleagues have yet to be confirmed by the US Senate.
This text is first in Daily indicator published.