On Wednesday morning, the United States Senate resumed the confirmation hearing for President Biden’s nominee for the Office of Budget and Management, Neera Tanden. While Republicans were still mostly concerned with her mean tweets, Budget Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was interested in more substantial concerns: the vast amount of corporate and foreign money that the Center for American Progress (CAP) accepted while Tanden was its president.
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“I happen to believe that big money interests have an undue influence over the economic and political life of our country, that too often campaign contributions are what determine policy rather than the needs of ordinary Americans, and according to the Washington Post, since 2014 the Center for American Progress has received $5.5M from Walmart, a company that pays its workers starvation wages, $900,000 from Bank of America, $550,000 from JP Morgan Chase, $550,000 from Amazon, $200,000 from Wells Fargo, $800,000 from Facebook, and up to $1.4M from Google, in other words, CAP has received money from some of the most powerful special interests in our country. How will your relationship with those very powerful special interests impact your decision making if you are appointed to lead OMB?”
Tanden, dripping with condescending insincerity, promised that it would have “zero impact on her decision making” and claimed that CAP took a number of positions opposing these special interests and promised to serve the needs of the American people.
CONFIRMATION HEARING: Sen. Bernie Sanders questions Neera Tanden about corporate donations: “$5.5M from Walmart… $900,000 from Bank of America, $550,000 from JP Morgan Chase, $550,000 from Amazon, $200,000 from Wells Fargo, $800,000 from Facebook, and up to $1.4M from Google.” pic.twitter.com/exgr43g7GT
— Forbes (@Forbes) February 10, 2021
Other prominent donors to CAP include bloodsucking health insurance giant BlueCross BlueShield, war crime profiteer contractors Northrop Grumman and the predatory for-profit college DeVry Education Group, which is currently under federal investigation for widespread fraud. CAP previously took in hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the United Arab Emirates but announced it would cease to do so after an Intercept report revealed that two staffers had been fired for leaking an internal debate regarding how strong to make the think tank’s response to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by UAE allies in Saudi Arabia.
CAP is described by Reuters as “Washington’s leading liberal think tank that for years has shaped Democratic financial, economic and social policies.” One would have to be a naive child to believe that the millions of dollars that pour into the think tank have no effect on its policy recommendations or that Neera, who is well-known for having “personally cultivated the bevy of benefactors,” would be able to remove herself from those past relationships and fully dedicate herself to serving the public will.
But if you needed any more proof that the pouring of dark money into CAP is a wildly unethical and inappropriate state of affairs, Trump lickspittle and flip-flopper extraordinaire Lindsey Graham rushed to her defense:
"Ms. Tanden was receiving corporate donations, which is fine by me … All of us receive different donations from corporate groups," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. "I'm not going to hold that against you."
— Jeff Stein (@JStein_WaPo) February 10, 2021
Given the Republican Party’s fervent and unrepentant embrace of political corruption as the foundational basis for all their policy positions, it should ring serious alarm bells that Tanden’s relationship with dark money is being given a green-light by Republicans, who usually are obsessively disapproving of literally anything anyone on the Democratic side of aisle ever does.
When you consider her unethical past conduct with the allegations that Tanden named and outed a sexual harassment and retaliation victim during an all-staff meeting at CAP, or about how she allegedly assaulted a reporter for asking Hillary Clinton a question about the Iraq War, or about the allegations that CAP engaged in union-busting when it abruptly fired all 12 of its ThinkProgress news outlet’s unionized writers and tried to replace them with non-union workers, or how she floated the horrendous and illegal idea that Libya should be forced to hand over its oil revenues to the US in order to pay for the disastrous military intervention that led to the complete collapse of the Libyan state into the competing fiefdoms of jihadist groups, we must reconsider whether Tanden is truly the best person for us to put in charge of the Office of Budget and Management.
But seeing as nobody else in the Senate seems particularly interested in holding Tanden accountable for anything she’s done in the past beyond a few juvenile insults to Republican politicians, we must resign ourselves to knowing that the cycle of corruption and corporate control over policy is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
The hearing ended with Sen. John Kennedy declaring that Tanden had called Sen. Sanders everything but an “ignorant slut,” which is apparently an SNL reference. This tells you all you need to know about how seriously our Senators were taking this hearing.
what is wrong with Sen. John Kennedy? pic.twitter.com/0oEzRjQ6sp
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 10, 2021
bernie says nothing wrong with being an ignorant slut, ty king 💅 pic.twitter.com/DFluIm6hE9
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) February 10, 2021