In speeches and during her confirmation hearing, Rouse has highlighted the inequality of the slump and stated that she will not only focus on rebuilding the economy and bringing back jobs, but also ensuring that the benefits are shared across the board.
“Too often economists focus on average outcomes rather than examining a range of outcomes,” said Rouse during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee. “One of my priorities as chairman will be understanding how politics will affect everyone in our country as we strive to make sure the economy works for everyone.”
Rouse’s time as CEA Chairperson marks her third sojourn at the White House. She served on the same council during the Obama administration and as special assistant to the president on the National Economic Council during the Clinton years.
Most recently she was dean of the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs before Biden hired her for the CEA job. Much of her work has focused on the economics of education, including the benefits of community colleges and the impact of student loan debt. During the Obama administration, she also focused on issues of long-term unemployment and manufacturing, on which she worked closely with then-Vice President Biden at times.
Rouse’s previous run at CEA coincided with the Great Recession, but it was another unemployment crisis in the early 1980s that first got her into the labor market as a student at Harvard when she started taking classes off her first Business class associated with unemployment saw them around them.
“I wanted to know why this was happening,” Rouse said at her confirmation hearing last month. “Why were Jobs gone – and what could be done to bring them back?”
This time, she didn’t expect to return to public service, Rouse said at her nomination event in December. But she was pulled away from Princeton in what she called a “rare combination of urgency and opportunity”.
“This is a moment of urgency and opportunity such as we have not seen in this day and age,” she said at the time. “The urgency to end a devastating crisis and the opportunity to build a better economy.”
Rouse will join a top economic team that includes NEC Director Brian Deese and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Unlike other cabinet agencies, the CEA has no regulatory or enforcement agencies and serves more as a “personal think tank for the president,” said Austan Goolsbee, who served as a member of the CEA alongside Rouse and later became chairman of the council.