Person

Jared Bernstein

Photo of Jared Bernstein testifying to the US Senate on May 26, 2005. (link)
Nationality:

American

Occupation:

Executive Director, National Employment Law Project

Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Former Chief Economist and Economic Policy Adviser, Vice President Joe Biden

Political Party:

Democratic

Jared Bernstein is a left-of-center economist and member of President Joe Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers. He was one of the architects of President Biden’s economic policies in his first proposed $6 trillion budget. [1][2]

Bernstein often identifies with Keynesian economics, though he opposes free trade and so-called “modern monetary theory.” He has worked at left-leaning labor union-aligned think tanks, including the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). [3]

Bernstein runs On the Economy, a blog in he writes down his thoughts on economic theory and issues. He ceased blogging in January 2021 after joining the Biden administration. [4]

Early Life and Education

Jared Bernstein was born in Ridgefield, Connecticut. His mother taught at Ridgefield High School and was a member of the teachers’ union. Jared attended Ridgefield High School and the elite, private Wooster School in Danbury, Connecticut. [5]

Bernstein then attended the Manhattan School of Music where he studied the double bass. He later earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Hunter College and a doctorate in social welfare from Columbia University. [6]

Career

In 1992, Jared Bernstein began working at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a think tank financed and run by labor unions. Bernstein conducted research and wrote hundreds of policy analyses for EPI. [7][8]

In 1995, Bernstein became Deputy Chief Economist in the U.S. Department of Labor under Robert Reich in the Clinton administration. [9] After just one year, Bernstein returned to EPI and continued working for the organization for 13 years. [10]

From 2009 until 2011, Bernstein worked as Chief Economist and Economic Policy Advisor for then-Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama administration. [11] The position was newly created to respond to the 2008 financial crisis. Bernstein was also on former President Barack Obama’s economic team and was appointed Executive Director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class. [12] Bernstein was noted as having more left-wing economic views than was typical within the Obama administration. [13]

In 2011, Bernstein became a senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), a labor-union-funded think tank that primarily analyses budget issues that impact low-income Americans. [14]

In 2020, Bernstein was appointed to the advisory board on the Biden-Harris transition team. [15]

At various times, Bernstein has worked as a professor at Howard University, Columbia University, and New York University. [16] He is also on the advisory committee of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO). [17]

Biden Administration

In January 2021, Bernstein was appointed to President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers. [18] Bernstein was one of the architects of President Biden’s left-of-center economic plan which proposed to spend $1.9 trillion on economic stimulus following the COVID-19 pandemic, $1.3 trillion in infrastructure, and $2 trillion on environmentalist energy investments. The proposal also called for increasing the corporate tax rate, increasing the capital gains tax rate on earnings over $1 million, raising the federal minimum wage to $15, and forgiving some student loan debt. [19][20]

In May 2021, Bernstein gave an interview to Bloomberg News laying out his economic outlook. Bernstein stated that the administration’s top priority was to provide economic relief in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly to create “union jobs that pay a good middle class wage.” When asked about inflation concerns due to deficit spending and a loose monetary policy, Bernstein stated that while the White House monitored inflation indicators, managing inflation was purely under the purview of the Federal Reserve and was not a priority for the Biden administration. [21]

Views

Jared Bernstein has left-wing economic views. He often identifies as a Keynesian and supporter of “demand-side” economics, and he opposes supply-side economic theories. [22]

Anti-Free Trade

Bernstein is generally opposed to free trade and advocates for alternative international treaties to drive globalization. He has argued that free trade prioritizes investors over national sovereignty, while claiming that the order should be reserved. He has also advocated for more international enforcement of labor and environmental regulations, diplomatic coordination against currency value suppressors, and the weakening of international intellectual property rights. In 2016, Bernstein called for a “moratorium on [international] trade agreements” and commended protectionist Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for his statements against free trade, though he condemned Trump’s preference for tariffs and trade wars as overly aggressive. [23]

Government Investment

Bernstein has argued that free market economies tend to underinvest in particular industries and technological developments, especially in innovation with long-term prospects but little immediate profitability. In a 2021 interview, Bernstein advocated for the government to invest both in research and demand-boosting in elder-care and childcare due to a perceived deficit in the United States as compared to foreign countries. Bernstein has also supported government investments in clean energy, claiming that the free market’s alleged “underinvestment” poses a “tremendous existential cost to our survival.” [24]

Economic Inequality

Bernstein advocates for government policies to reduce income inequality. In a 2015 Atlantic article, Bernstein and economist Ben Spieldberg argued that income inequality is the primary driving factor of American poverty due to relative socioeconomic status causing an alleged multi-generational reinforcement of low achievement and incomes. To combat inequality, Bernstein and Spieldberg proposed mass intervention by federal government, including increased education funding, free pre-kindergarten education for low income-families, college debt forgiveness, and increased spending on nearly all entitlement programs. [25]

Bernstein attributes much of the inequality in America to the allegedly growing gap between labor productivity and income over the last fifty years. According to Bernstein, the federal government and Federal Reserve have run excessively tight fiscal and monetary policies, which have purportedly led to a loose labor market. Bernstein has claimed that the economy has operated below full employment since at least 1980. Bernstein has argued that as a result, despite developments in technology and increases in general economic efficiency, labor wages have increased at a slower rate than profits. Bernstein has claimed that this divergence has allowed investors to get wealthier while the lower and middle classes have stagnated, thereby increasing income inequality. [26]

Bernstein is a longtime advocate of raising the minimum wage to address these alleged issues. In 2019, he wrote a blog post supporting a $15 minimum wage, claiming that it would reduce poverty and inequality. [27]

Modern Monetary Theory

In January 2018, Bernstein wrote a blog post criticizing “modern monetary theory,” a fringe left-wing economic theory which encourages indefinite and near-infinite government deficit spending to optimize the economy. Bernstein stated that he agreed with the “core assumption” of modern monetary theory, that governments should engage in deficit spending to push the economy to full employment, but he elaborated on concerns that excessive deficit spending could cause inflation. Bernstein also admitted that the government lacks the judgement and “will” to accurately steer the economy through such an aggressive monetary and fiscal policy. [28]

Political Donations

Bernstein has made small political donations to former Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, former U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA), and former Washington state representative candidate John Burbank (D). [29]

References

  1. D’Souza, Debra. “Joe Biden’s Economic Plan.” Investopedia. April 27, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.investopedia.com/joe-biden-s-economic-plan-save-the-middle-class-4769869. ^
  2. Alloway, Tracy; Wiesenthal, Joe. “Transcript: Jared Bernstein on Taxes, Spending and Inflation.” Bloomberg. May 14, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-14/transcript-jared-bernstein-on-taxes-spending-and-inflation. ^
  3. “Bernstein, Jared.” Open Secrets. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=71274. ^
  4. “Update re: On the Economy.” On the Economy. January 27, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://jaredbernsteinblog.com/update-re-on-the-economy/ ^
  5. Reid, Macklin. “Jared Bernstein, who grew up in Ridgefield, is asked to serve on Biden economic team.” Ridgefield Press. December 1, 2020. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.theridgefieldpress.com/news/article/Jared-Bernstein-who-grew-up-Ridgefield-is-asked-15766657.php. ^
  6. Reid, Macklin. “Jared Bernstein, who grew up in Ridgefield, is asked to serve on Biden economic team.” Ridgefield Press. December 1, 2020. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.theridgefieldpress.com/news/article/Jared-Bernstein-who-grew-up-Ridgefield-is-asked-15766657.php. ^
  7. “Jared Bernstein.” Economic Policy Institute. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.epi.org/people/jared-bernstein/. ^
  8. “Bernstein, Jared.” Open Secrets. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=71274. ^
  9. “Bernstein, Jared.” Open Secrets. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=71274. ^
  10. “Bernstein, Jared.” Open Secrets. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=71274. ^
  11. “Bernstein, Jared.” Open Secrets. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=71274. ^
  12. “Jared Bernstein.” Hamilton Project. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.hamiltonproject.org/people/jared_bernstein. ^
  13. Shear, Michael D. “Biden Picks Jared Bernstein as Economic Adviser.” Washington Post. December 5, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2021. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2008/12/biden-picks-jared-berstein-as.html. ^
  14. “Bernstein, Jared.” Open Secrets. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/revolving/rev_summary.php?id=71274. ^
  15. “Biden-Harris Transition Organization.” Democracy in Action. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.democracyinaction.us/2020/chrntran/bidentransition.html. ^
  16. Reid, Macklin. “Jared Bernstein, who grew up in Ridgefield, is asked to serve on Biden economic team.” Ridgefield Press. December 1, 2020. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.theridgefieldpress.com/news/article/Jared-Bernstein-who-grew-up-Ridgefield-is-asked-15766657.php. ^
  17. “Jared Bernstein.” The Obama White House. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/author/jared-bernstein. ^
  18. “Update re: On the Economy.” On the Economy. January 27, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://jaredbernsteinblog.com/update-re-on-the-economy/ ^
  19. D’Souza, Debra. “Joe Biden’s Economic Plan.” Investopedia. April 27, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.investopedia.com/joe-biden-s-economic-plan-save-the-middle-class-4769869. ^
  20. Alloway, Tracy; Wiesenthal, Joe. “Transcript: Jared Bernstein on Taxes, Spending and Inflation.” Bloomberg. May 14, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-14/transcript-jared-bernstein-on-taxes-spending-and-inflation. ^
  21. Alloway, Tracy; Wiesenthal, Joe. “Transcript: Jared Bernstein on Taxes, Spending and Inflation.” Bloomberg. May 14, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-14/transcript-jared-bernstein-on-taxes-spending-and-inflation. ^
  22. Alloway, Tracy; Wiesenthal, Joe. “Transcript: Jared Bernstein on Taxes, Spending and Inflation.” Bloomberg. May 14, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-14/transcript-jared-bernstein-on-taxes-spending-and-inflation. ^
  23. Bernstein, Jared. “Trump has a point about free trade. But his proposals just make things worse.” Vox. July 1, 2016. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.vox.com/2016/7/1/12080974/trump-free-trade-proposal. ^
  24. Alloway, Tracy; Wiesenthal, Joe. “Transcript: Jared Bernstein on Taxes, Spending and Inflation.” Bloomberg. May 14, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-14/transcript-jared-bernstein-on-taxes-spending-and-inflation. ^
  25. Bernstein, Jared; Spieldberg, Ben. “Inequality Matters.” Atlantic. June 5, 2015. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/what-matters-inequality-or-opportuniy/393272/. ^
  26. Alloway, Tracy; Wiesenthal, Joe. “Transcript: Jared Bernstein on Taxes, Spending and Inflation.” Bloomberg. May 14, 2021. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-14/transcript-jared-bernstein-on-taxes-spending-and-inflation. ^
  27. “More evidence – this time from CBO – that higher (even much higher) minimum wages largely do what they’re supposed to do.” On the Economy. July 8, 2019. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://jaredbernsteinblog.com/more-evidence-this-time-from-cbo-that-higher-even-much-higher-minimum-wages-largely-do-what-theyre-supposed-to-do/. ^
  28. “Questions for the MMTers.” On the Economy. January 7, 2018. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://jaredbernsteinblog.com/questions-for-the-mmters/. ^
  29. “Donor: Jared Bernstein.” Open Secrets. Accessed June 12, 2021. https://www.opensecrets.org/search?q=Jared+Bernstein&type=donors. ^
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