President Biden’s pick for Comptroller of the Currency has provoked sharp criticism for past and recent comments that praised the Soviet economy.
Biden on Sept. 23 nominated Saul Omarova, a law school professor at Cornell University, for the office responsible with the regulation and supervision of all national banks. Omarova’s nomination drew immediate pushback from powerful voices who criticized her background and past comments that indicated a favor for the policies of the USSR.
Omarova was born in the Soviet Union in what is now called Kazakhstan and graduated from Moscow State University in 1989. She has pointed to the USSR’s practices as recently as 2019, when she tweeted about the gender pay gap, citing the USSR as a better model.
“Until I came to the US, I couldn’t imagine that things like gender pay gap still existed in today’s world,” Omarova wrote. “Say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best.’”
Some officials were quick to release criticism and urge Biden to reconsider the nomination.
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“I have serious reservations about her nomination,” U.S. Senate Banking Committee ranking member Pat Toomey, R-Pa., wrote. “Ms. Omarova has called for ‘radically reshaping the basic architecture and dynamics of modern finance’ including nationalizing retail banking and having the Federal Reserve allocate credit.”
“She has also advocated for ‘effectively ending banking as we know it,’” Toomey added.
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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also wrote a letter in opposition to Omarova’s nomination, pointing to comments from 2020 that laid out her intention to reshape “the basic architecture and dynamics of modern finance.”
“The Chamber generally believes that presidents deserve some degree of deference towards their nominees,” wrote Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “That deference assumes nominees are inclined to the faithful execution of the law, not the pursuit of radical policy agendas inconsistent with the obligations of the position of trust they are being nominated to hold.”
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“We believe someone who holds the expressed desire to ‘effectively ‘end banking’ as we know it’ should not serve as the primary regulator of this industry,” Bradley stressed.
Omarova’s comment that the government should “effectively ‘end banking’ as we know it” comes from a recently authored paper called “The People’s Ledger,” to which Republicans and industry experts have pointed as prime evidence to disqualify Omarova.
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“As comptroller, Ms. Omarova would supervise some 1,200 financial institutions,” The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote in an op-ed. “While she couldn’t enact her People’s Agenda without legislation, she would have sweeping powers to punish banks that don’t follow her diktats.
“Ms. Omarova is the wrong nominee for the wrong industry in the wrong country in the wrong century.”
Peter Aitken is a New York born-and-raised reporter with a focus on national and global news.