This morning, Janet Yellen, who is Joe Biden’s nominee for Treasury Secretary and who will almost certainly be confirmed since Democrats will control the Senate tomorrow, appeared before the Senate Finance Committee for her confirmation hearing, and her message to those in Congress is to “act big” on stimulus.
She said, “Neither the President-elect, nor I, propose this relief package without an appreciation for the country’s debt burden. But right now, with interest rates at historic lows, the smartest thing we can do is act big. In the long run, I believe the benefits will far outweigh the costs, especially if we care about helping people who have been struggling for a very long time.”
She said in a written testimony submitted to the committee prior to the hearing, “I think there is a consensus now: Without further action, we risk a longer, more painful recession now — and long-term scarring of the economy later.” Almost immediately, Current Finance Committee Chairman Republican Chuck Grassley, who will not be the finance committee chairman for long, Grassley used his opening statement in the hearing to call Biden’s stimulus plan a “laundry list of liberal structural economic reforms.” Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who will replace Grassley as Finance Committee Chairman, said that the Biden administration “is going to begin with all-out triage” and that “the good news is that Chair Yellen knows that going small on economic relief would be a big mistake.” Yellen also said in the hearing that the Main Street Lending Program that was instituted by the CARES Act was “not very effective” at reaching smaller businesses.
She also criticized China for erecting trade barriers, giving illegal subsidies to corporations, and stealing intellectual property. Personally, I think Janet Yellen will be a phenomenal Treasury Secretary who will push harder with Republicans on things like stimulus than the current Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin did with Democrats. Confirmation hearings are also being held today for four other Biden picks, Avril Haines as director of national intelligence, Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary, Antony Blinken as secretary of state, and Lloyd J Austin III as secretary of defense.
And of course tomorrow on the West Front of the Capitol Building Joe Biden will be confirmed as the forty-sixth president of the United States and Kamala Harris as the forty-ninth vice president of the United States. This inauguration day will look very different than inauguration days in the past, there will be no parade, but many virtual events will be held.
More than twenty thousand National Guard troops are expected to be in D.C. before Inauguration Day according to acting Chief of D.C. Police. The Capitol itself is surrounded by fencing and the National Park Service has temporarily closed the National Mall.
President Trump is expected to depart Washington tomorrow morning before Biden is sworn in. Trump will not be at Biden’s swearing-in ceremony, he is the first president to skip out on the swearing-in ceremony of his predecessor in one hundred and fifty-two years, since when in 1869 President Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth president of the United States, did not attend the swearing-in of Ulysses S. Grant, the eighteenth president.
Vice President Mike Pence will attend the inauguration. Former presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama will attend, along with Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama. The only living president not to attend is Jimmy Carter, who is currently ninety-six years old, but a spokeswoman for The Carter Center in Atlanta said that Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter send their “best wishes.” Lady Gaga will sing the national anthem tomorrow, and Jennifer Lopez will be performing as well.