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Member Bharat Ramamurti of the Congressional Oversight Commission speaks during a hearing before the commission on December 10, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo: Sarah Silbiger / POOL / AFP via Getty Images)

Justice Democrats, Sunrise Movement Applaud Latest Economic Council Picks by Biden as 'Major Win'

"President-elect Biden is entering the White House amid one of the greatest economic crises in our history, and it is critical that he has a team of advisors who are prepared to invest in workers, raise wages, and take on the 1%."

Julia Conley

Progressives on Monday applauded President-elect Joe Biden's selection of three new economic advisers who are expected to "prioritize the fight against structural inequality in our economy and democracy," including a former economic policy director to Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Biden's transition team announced that Bharat Ramamurti, who has advised Warren as a senator and a presidential candidate, will serve on the National Economic Council (NEC) with a focus on consumer protection and financial reform. Ramamurti was appointed in April to serve on the Congressional Oversight Commission for the CARES Act, and has worked closely with Warren to develop proposals for a wealth tax and to investigate fraud at Wells Fargo and a data hack at Equifax. He also helped devise the Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act, which would have fined Equifax $1.5 billion for consumer privacy breaches.

Biden's choice of Ramamurti to play a key role in protecting working Americans from fraud and corporate malfeasance "shows a clear intent to be very aggressive in this arena," said Adam Jentleson of Democracy Forward, at a time when powerful corporations have added tens of billions of dollars to their revenue as millions of working families struggle to afford necessities. 

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which last month joined groups including Public Citizen and the Sunrise Movement to give 400 staffing recommendations to the incoming Biden administration, also praised the appointment.

"There is nobody more perfectly qualified to implement Biden's proposals for corporate accountability than Bharat, who worked hand-in-hand with Senator Elizabeth Warren on holding big financial institutions accountable to the American people," said co-founder Adam Green. 

Sara Nelson,  international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, worked closely with Ramamurti and Warren this year to ensure the CARES Act had provisions that would protect workers. 

Last month she told The American Prospect in an interview about Ramamurti, "I have rarely met someone who is so good on policy and who has such a good sense of how to move big issues," and on Monday she expressed hope that the appointment would lead to "good change for working people."

Also on Monday, the Biden team announced that David Kamin, a former economic adviser in the President Barack Obama administration who also worked at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities for two years, will serve as deputy director of the NEC and that Joelle Gamble, a senior adviser at left-leaning think tank The Roosevelt Institute, has been named special assistant to the president for economic policy. 

According to Waleed Shahid of Justice Democrats, the appointments represent a "major win for progressives" and anyone concerned about the state of the U.S. economy, in which the richest 1% of Americans own more wealth than everyone in the bottom 50% combined. 

Gamble has worked as an organizer on campaigns advancing economic opportunity, tax reform, and education access in California, and is currently a principal on the Reimagining Capitalism initiative at the Omidyar Network—aimed at building the power of workers and shaping "a new economic paradigm that describes our world today and points us toward systemic solutions that build a more equitable, inclusive, and resilient society."

"There's a hard road ahead to deliver for all Americans and address the harm done to our communities," Gamble tweeted Monday. "But, I believe we CAN build a more equitable and just future."

The Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement, who have pushed the incoming Biden administration to appoint progressives who will fight for bold climate action and an economy that prioritizes the needs of working people over the desires of corporations, said the appointments will help progressives "to hold the President-elect accountable to delivering results for working families across America."

"President-elect Biden is entering the White House amid one of the greatest economic crises in our history, and it is critical that he has a team of advisors who are prepared to invest in workers, raise wages, and take on the 1%," said Justice Democrats executive director Alexandra Rojas and Sunrise Movement co-founder Varshini Prakash in a joint statement. "The appointments of David Kamlin, Bharat Ramamurti, and Joelle Gamble are a major win for progressives and all Americans who want the next administration to use every single tool at their disposal to end structural inequality in our economy."

"Kamlin understands that the rich must pay their fair share to give workers a shot at prosperity in the 21st century," they added. "Ramamurti, an NEC appointment pushed for by our organizations, understands that Wall Street and the most powerful corporations in the world must be held accountable to the rule of law. Gamble understands that forty years of trickle-down economics must be reversed through major, long-term investment in working-class communities across the country."

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