On Tuesday, eight days before the Biden-Harris Administration takes power in Washington, the virtual International CES hosted a discussion with the man who will be one of the 46th president’s leading economic advisers.
The Consumer Technology Association’s president and CEO, Gary Shapiro, hosted Brian Deese, who is the director-designate of President-Elect Biden’s National Economic Council.
Deese, a former Obama Administration economic adviser, was involved in the auto industry rescue package, and while out of government worked for BlackRock. Gary Cohn and Larry Kudrow served in the NEC director role during the Trump Administration.
“The vaccine itself is actually a testament to American innovation,” Deese said in the interview, making clear that vaccine distribution and other challenges related to the pandemic will be dealt with first.
“Tech companies can help with the public response,” he said, specifically referencing the stopping of coronavirus-related misinformation. He also mentioned broadband, and its importance.
Shapiro also asked about the potential regulation of the tech industry.
“The president-elect really takes a perspective of what is going to be good for the economy,” Deese said. “And his metric of economic health is whether American families and the American middle class is able to have economic dignity and be able to achieve their economic objectives.” He added that the administration is looking to partner with the private sector, “where we can.”
Deese was asked by Shapiro about “Build back better,” which was Biden’s major campaign slogan.
“It’s a nice alliteration, but it’s a very important economic concept,” Deese said. “Which is, the core idea is that recognizing even in the middle of an economic crisis, we have big structural challenges, and therefore opportunities to address structural economic issues that have held back our economy’s potential.” He added that the incoming administration wants growth, but growth “that’s being broadly shared.”
“We want to innovate and challenge ourselves to do things differently,” especially in the way that the administration plans to deal with both climate change and racial justice, he added.
While the interview didn’t include many specific policy commitments, Deese confirmed that the Biden Administration will re-enter the United States into the Paris Climate Accords, and also “engage multilaterally with allies across the world, to work together on how we can increase… our climate mitigation efforts.”
As for tariffs and trade, Deese said that competition with China will “one of the central challenges of this century,” and that it’s necessary for the U.S. to rebuild its traditional strengths. He also made clear that repairing relations with allies will be a priority of the new administration.
Deese also talked about policy when it comes to workers.
“The building out of skills for workers, particularly those workers who are coming out of secondary and looking at ‘what are their options in this economy,’ is gonna be an absolute focus,” Deese said. Biden is also in favor of programs for apprenticeships, which will include partnerships with unions.
Shapiro said at the end of the interview that, on behalf of CTA, “we want you to succeed. We’re looking forward to an administration which has that balanced approach… we’re looking for a steady hand.”
CTA, which runs CES and also does lobbying for the interests of the consumer technology industry, has long sought to cultivate politicians of both parties, and has traditionally honored lawmakers at an annual dinner in Washington. Shapiro was a friend and advocate for Mitt Romney, now a Republican senator from Utah, when Romney ran for president in 2008 and 2012. Shapiro has also hosted the chairmen of the FCC at several CES shows in past years.
CTA also issued a video statement, on the CES site, condemning the January 8 Capitol Hill insurrection.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.
Image: CES Screenshot.