Neera Tanden, the embattled nominee for director of the Office of Management and Budget, has picked up a support from a high-impact group and drawn flak from another.
Tanden, the first Indian American to lead a major Washington, DC think tank, would be the first Indian American to hold the OMB position, if confirmed.
The Indian-American community and civic organization IMPACT has been working hard and reached out to US Senator Bernie Sanders, chair of the Senate Committee on the Budget, to help push Tanden’s nomination through.
IMPACT has also written to US Senators Lindsey Graham, ranking member on the budget committee, Gary Peters, chair, Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, Ron Johnson, ranking member, Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, expressing support for Tanden.
IMPACT executive director Neil Makhija shared with indica News the letter to the senators. The letter described Tanden as an experienced progressive leader, brilliant policy wonk, and one of the most experienced policymakers in the nation.
“We recognize that while members of our community have succeeded in many professions, we remain vastly underrepresented in government,” the letter says.
“IMPACT has thus sought to identify and support highly qualified candidates from our community for elected and appointed public offices. We have been thrilled to see Ms. Tanden under consideration for this Cabinet-level position in the federal government and urge you and your committees to approve her historic nomination.”
The letter said that Tanden played a major role in crafting the Affordable Care Act and that during the Covid-19 crisis and she has been an active advocate for addressing the unique and disparate ways the pandemic has devastated communities of color.
It points out that Tanden endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris’ legislation in the U.S. Senate to create a Covid-19 Racial and Ethnic Disparities Task Force and promoted emergency paid leave legislation that would expand benefits that are often unavailable to workers of color.
“Her decades of public service have helped narrow the racial wealth gap, support women- and minority-owned small businesses, and centered the economic challenges of people of color. And she understands the power of the American Dream,” the letter added.
However, not everyone was in agreement with the support Tanden has been picking up.
RootsAction, which describes itself as an “online initiative dedicated to galvanizing people who are committed to economic fairness, equal rights for all, civil liberties, environmental protection — and defunding endless wars,” has come out strongly against her.
It has started a campaign against her nomination that alleges: “Tanden spent the last decade raising huge amounts of money for her think tank from wealthy donors representing corporate interests and from foreign governments, including the anti-democratic United Arab Emirates.”
It adds: “In recent years, Tanden has become known as one of the loudest voices of the neoliberal establishment. She has expressed support for cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”
Asked why they were advocating against tanded, Norman Solomon, national director, RootsAction.org, told indica News: “My biggest concern is Tanden’s long record of
serving corporate interests much more than the public interest.
“Her huge fundraising prowess on behalf of the Center for American Progress has reflected her alignment with wealthy benefactors and large corporations that have benefited from positions advanced by CAP,” Solomon said.
“And while she has served the military-industrial complex, that complex has supported her.”
Amar Shergill, chair of the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus, told indica News that he also opposed Tanden’s nomination.
“I oppose Neera Tanden’s nomination to the OMB because she has spent a career soliciting corporate money and pushing policies that inflate corporate profits while impoverishing Americans,” Shergill said.
“Her lack of courage on behalf of the American people is disqualifying. While GOP flag bearers are applying a hypocritical standard against Tanden that is laden with misogyny, let’s be clear that, for Progressives, this is not about her mean tweets; it’s about her politics,” he added.
Rajiv Bhateja, co-founder of They See Blue, a Democrat South Asian grassroots organization in Northern California, felt Tanden was eminently qualified to be the OMB.
“It’s the double standards,” Bhateja told indica News. “Trump, Senator Ted Cruz and many candidates tweet many nonsense things and when a woman of color, a highly qualified one, does it is not appropriate? Of course, it’s double standards.”