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Business on Biden: Not So Bad, Given the -2-

10/25/2020 | 12:22pm EST

Liberals in the party would like to see Ms. Warren receive a plum role in a Biden administration, along with progressive stalwarts in Congress such as Pramila Jayapal (D., Wash.), and Katie Porter (D., Calif.). Liberal groups have also promoted Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz as a potential head of the National Economic Council.

Wade Randlett, a Biden fundraiser who is an executive at General Biofuels, a California-based alternative-energy company, said progressives probably overstate their leverage with Mr. Biden given that they didn't support him during the primary and "repudiated him and his ideas all the way."

CEOs, who were prominent in Mr. Trump's first cabinet, are largely absent from Mr. Biden's inner circle, although many close aides have worked in the private sector, often as lobbyists.

Business leaders say Ms. Warren as Treasury secretary is the sort of appointment that would alarm them. People close to the campaign say that is unlikely, not least because it could cost Democrats a seat in a closely divided Senate, at least temporarily, because the state has a Republican governor who would choose an interim replacement.

Among the potential picks for Treasury are three current or former Federal Reserve officials, say people familiar with the campaign. Lael Brainard, currently a Fed governor who served under both Mr. Obama and President Clinton, and Roger Ferguson, chief executive of fund manager Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America and a former Fed vice chairman, would both be reassuring figures, business leaders say. Sarah Bloom Raskin, a favorite of liberals and a former Fed governor who served in Mr. Obama's Treasury, is more of an unknown to business.

Energy companies are resigned to more climate regulation in a Biden administration, said Kevin Book, head of research at ClearView Energy Partners, an energy analysis firm. In Thursday's final debate, Mr. Biden said he would "transition away from the oil industry." Yet much will depend on who fills key positions such as Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Mr. Book pointed to Gina McCarthy, who headed the EPA under Mr. Obama and has advised the Biden campaign, as someone the industry felt listened even if they didn't like her decisions. People close to the campaign said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the California Air Resources Board, is sometimes floated by Democratic operatives as EPA administrator.

Mr. Book said she would worry industry because she has "unflinchingly supported" the state's "interventionist, heavy handed agenda." A spokesman for Ms. Nichols declined to comment.

Business may be less out of step with a Democratic agenda than it once was. In the past decade, many executives, like the country at large, have moved in Democrats' direction on noneconomic issues such as immigration, race, gay and transgender rights, and climate. Last month, the Business Roundtable, representing more than 200 big-company CEOs, endorsed reducing U.S. net carbon emissions 80% by 2050 -- a position closer to Mr. Biden's than Mr. Trump's.

Some business leaders see the current climate of polarization as antithetical to policy-making. From infrastructure to skill development, "there's a long list of things we need resolved, and we're just spinning our wheels in the twittersphere, and it's time to get back to work," said the Institute of International Finance's Mr. Adams, who served in President George W. Bush's Treasury Department. "Let's make America, or at least Washington, boring again."

Write to Greg Ip at greg.ip@wsj.com and Ken Thomas at ken.thomas@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

10-25-20 1321ET

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
LONDON BRENT OIL 1.17% 48.5 Delayed Quote.-30.61%
WTI 1.72% 45.545 Delayed Quote.-29.68%
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