Watch: Biden OMB Nominee Neera Tanden Grilled for Taking Millions from Wall Street, Big Tech
President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Neera Tanden, was grilled by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) for her financial ties to Wall Street firms and tech corporations.
Tanden, currently the CEO of the left-wing Center for American Progress and a longtime ally of failed Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, was questioned by Hawley for the organization’s donor list, which includes Wall Street investors, Big Tech, and foreign governments.
“Do you think that Wall Street and Big Tech companies have too much influence in our economy and society today,” Hawley asked Tanden to which she responded “Yes.”
Hawley then asked Tanden to explain how she would “advocate for working people given this history of soliciting tens of millions of dollars from the biggest and most powerful corporations on the planet?”
The exchange went as follows:
HAWLEY: I also … I am glad you say that, I agree with you and I’ve talked for years now about these concentrations of power, how they stifle small business owners, and ultimately hurt working people. I want to ask you about a report from the New York Times and other outlets suggesting that you solicited tens of millions of dollars in donations from Wall Street and Silicon Valley companies as president of the Center for American Progress, including very large contributions from Mark Zuckerberg.
I understand that in early 2019, Sen. Sanders actually wrote to your organization, suggesting that these corporate interests may be inappropriately influencing your work. Can you just give a sense of how you will, if you’re confirmed as OMB Director, how you will advocate for working people given this history of soliciting tens of millions of dollars from the biggest and most powerful corporations on the planet?
TANDEN: Senator, if the role of OMB is to serve the public and I am 100 percent committed to that role, and let me say that just to be clear, I believe that the Center for American Progress took funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, not Mark Zuckerberg directly. But I completely take the point about concerns about funding. I can commit to you that I will always uphold the highest ethical standards, I will work with career folks at OMB to do so but I will also say that no policy position I have taken has been determined by the financial interest of any single person.
HAWLEY: $665,000 from the personal foundation of Mr. Zuckerberg. Millions of dollars from Wall Street financiers, big banks, foreign governments, Silicon Valley, a million dollars from the managing partner at Bain Capital, $2.5 million from the UAE. That was between 2016 and 2018, given this record, how can you assure us that you’ll work to see that these Silicon Valley and Wall Street firms don’t exercise undue influence — frankly, influence that they’ve already got in the making of government policy and control of our economy.
How can you assure us that you’re going to be an independent actor when you’ve been so close to them and raised so much money over all these years.
TANDEN: I really appreciate that question and I would say that I and the Center for American Progress aggressively … take on the role of Facebook and tech companies, I’ve called for higher taxes on companies, regulations of Wall Street, financial transaction tax. I’m proud of the record of the Center for American Progress and policies that will limit the power of Wall Street, limit the power of tech companies. I would welcome the opportunity to work with you on those ideas because I do agree with you that corporate special interests have too much power in our discourse.
So whether it’s a financial transaction tax or other proposals, obviously I would take my role as OMB Director as one in which I follow the tax policy of the president, but it’s my orientation that we need to rebalance power in our economy and I hope we can work together in those areas.
HAWLEY: Good. I’ll hold you to that.
Tanden’s financial ties, as head of the Center for American Progress, include $5,000 to $499,999 donations from Apple, AT&T, BlackRock, CVS Health, Comcast NBCUniversal, Goldman Sachs, Lyft, Verizon, Uber, Walmart, the Bank of America, Amazon, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Facebook, Google, JP Morgan Chase, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Microsoft Corporation, and Wells Fargo.
Some of the Center for American Progress’ biggest donors in 2019 — ranging from $1 million or more and $500,000 to $999,999 donations — came from billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, hedge fund billionaire John Arnold’s Arnold Ventures LLC, and the Ford Foundation.