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Five moderate Democrats say they will vote AGAINST Omarova’s nomination to be Biden’s bank regulator

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Five moderate Democratic senators have reportedly said they will not support President Biden’s communist-born pick for bank regulator, dooming Saule Omarova’s nomination.

A tense Senate hearing last week heaped more pressure on a nominee whose childhood in Soviet Kazakhstan has been under scrutiny ever since the Cornell law professor was tapped to be comptroller of the currency.

She was forced to deny she was a communist under questioning by Republicans.

In a phone call on Wednesday, three members of the Senate Banking Committee – Jon Tester (D-Mont.) Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) – told the panel’s chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) of their opposition, according to Axios.

They are reportedly joined by Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) and Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.).

A White House official said the administration stood by its pick. 

‘Saule Omarova is eminently qualified for this position,’ the official said. 

‘She has been treated unfairly since her nomination with unacceptable red-baiting from Republicans like it’s the McCarthy era.’

President Biden's pick as bank regulator looks doomed after it emerged that five Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee said they would Saule Omarova

President Biden’s pick as bank regulator looks doomed after it emerged that five Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee said they would Saule Omarova 

Saule Omarova ( circled ) at School Number 21 where she studied at Uralsk town (now Oral), in Soviet Kazakhstan. Republicans have repeatedly tried to suggest that she is a communist

Saule Omarova ( circled ) at School Number 21 where she studied at Uralsk town (now Oral), in Soviet Kazakhstan. Republicans have repeatedly tried to suggest that she is a communist

An exclusive new photograph shows Omarova as a proud 'Young Pioneer' - the Communist youth mass movement - at her Soviet school number 21 in Uralsk, now Oral, in Kazakhstan. She is wearing the red scarf of the movement in a picture dating from 1979-80

An exclusive new photograph shows Omarova as a proud ‘Young Pioneer’ – the Communist youth mass movement – at her Soviet school number 21 in Uralsk, now Oral, in Kazakhstan. She is wearing the red scarf of the movement in a picture dating from 1979-80

Republicans have focused on her childhood but her outspoken criticism of Wall Street institutions has apparently also alienated centrist Democrats.

The headlines from her appearance before the Senate Banking Committee last week were dominated by the bizarre moment when Republican Sen. John Kennedy demanded to know whether Omarova had ever resigned from the Young Communist group she was forced to join as a young girl.  

‘I don’t mean this with any disrespect, but I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade,’ he told a bemused nominee. 

‘I’m not a communist,’ she responded. ‘I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born.’

It set the tone for a bad-tempered hearing and revealed that Omarova would have a tough time securing confirmation.

She was lined up to head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (O.C.C.), which regulates the assets held by more than 1,000 banks.

It is an important but often obscure position. This time around, however, the background of the nominee and her public positions has triggered heated exchanges. 

Progressive Democrats see a regulator who would bring a tough approach to policing banks after years of soft-touch supervision. 

But Republican critics view her as a radical who wants to nationalize banking. 

They have focused on her early life in Kazakhstan, when it was part of the Soviet Union, before she immigrated to the U.S. in 1991. 

A copy of the register from Omarova's school says she was a member of the Komsomol, or 'Young Communists' in the USSR

A copy of the register from Omarova’s school says she was a member of the Komsomol, or ‘Young Communists’ in the USSR

They have demanded to see her college thesis on Karl Marx and suggest she has not ‘repudiated her Soviet-era views,’ as the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board put it recently. 

But she has raised eyebrows with her more recent contributions to discussion about regulation.

She has advocated for moving Americans’ financial accounts from private banks to the Federal Reserve and for forcing banks to lose leverage on federal subsidies by becoming ‘non-depository lenders.’ 

It would diminish the stature of the institutions she’s supposed to regulate.

‘By separating their lending function from their monetary function, the proposed reform will effectively “end banking,” as we know it,’ Omarova wrote in a paper updated in February of this year titled ‘The People’s Ledger.’

She summed it up more concisely in a 2019 documentary film titled ‘A**holes: A Theory.’ Omarova called Wall Street’s hedge fund-dominated culture a ‘quintessential a**hole industry.’

And video emerged recently of her  saying she wanted oil and gas companies to go ‘bankrupt.’ 

‘We want them to go bankrupt if we want to tackle climate change, right?’ the Soviet-born Omarova said in a clip that was shared online by the conservative-leaning American Accountability Foundation.  

During the hearing, Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey accused her of wanting to end America’s free market system.

‘I’m sure Americans can’t wait until the Fed starts directly controlling prices for eggs and milk and rent,’ he said.

‘And this isn’t the only time that Professor Omarova has expressed support for government control on wages, as she tweeted in 2019 … her words, and I quote: “Say what you will about the old USSR, there was no gender pay gap. The market doesn’t always know best.”‘

But she had the clear support of progressives such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who accused Republicans of embarking on a ‘vicious smear campaign’ designed to prevent the confirmation of someone who would take on big banks.

‘It is disgusting,’ she said. ‘And anyone who participates in this malicious character assassination should be ashamed of themselves.’ 

In a quickfire round of questions she gave Omarova a chance to deny the charges against her.

‘Now one claim is that you intend to nationalise the banking system,’ said Warren. ‘So let’s just get this nonsense out of the way. Does the OCC have the power to end private banking and remove all consumer deposits to a public ledger?’

Omarova answered: ‘Absolutely not.’

Warren continued: ‘If the OCC did have that power, is that something you would support?’

‘Absolutely not.’

‘And are you a capitalist who believes in free markets? 

‘Yes I am,’ said Omarova.





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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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