Saule Omarova, President Joe Biden’s pick for comptroller of the currency, has withdrawn herself from consideration.
In a brief withdrawal letter released by the White House, Ms. Omarova said, “it is no longer tenable for me to continue as a Presidential nominee.”
Omarova faced broad opposition from the banking industry and Republicans, as well as skepticism from centrist Democrats, because of her controversial academic writings and proposals, including her advocacy for the end of banking “as we know it.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, White House officials have defended Ms. Omarova but didn’t comment on Democratic opposition. Administration officials have said that Ms. Omarova, who was born in Kazakhstan when it was part of the Soviet Union, has been the target of “red baiting” from Republicans.
During her November confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee, Omarova also faced scrutiny over her recent comment that “we want” oil and gas companies to go bankrupt in order to fight climate change. She conceded during the hearing that she should not have framed her argument the way she did.
While Republicans in the hearing largely stuck to questioning her policy positions and academic writings, some probed for questions about her past, including details about her thesis from college.
“I don’t mean any disrespect, I don’t know whether to call you professor or comrade,” said GOP Sen. John Kennedy.
“Senator, I’m not a communist. I do not subscribe to that ideology. I could not choose where I was born,” she responded.
Americans for Limited Government (ALG) has opposed Omarova’s nomination from the start. Omarova is a genuine Moscow University (not in Idaho), Lenin Scholar who emigrated to the United States in 1991 who is on video saying, “There will be no more private bank deposit accounts and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed.”
When this statement is put into the context of an administration that has aggressively sought to have annual transaction reports for every bank account with more than $600, what could go wrong? While most people don’t know what the Comptroller of the Currency does, the position is more than a signature line on the money. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency overseas the execution of laws relating to national banks including chartering, regulating and supervising them.
When combined with the broad powers that the Consumer Finance Protection Board has over the financial services sector, the prospects of a radical appointee in this relatively obscure position poses a real danger to the flow of money through our financial system.
ALG President Richard Manning reacted to the news of Omarova’s withdrawal by nothing that she was “perhaps the most radical person ever nominated to serve as a financial regulator in American history.”
Manning called her withdrawal “a huge win for our nation. The fact that the Biden administration kept pushing her even after her proposals to end private banking accounts became public should astonish anyone who still clings to the notion that the President is in any way a moderate.”
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is an independent bureau of the Treasury Department. It oversees about 1,200 banks with total assets of $14 trillion, about two-thirds of the total in the U.S. banking system.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House has struggled to find a comptroller nominee who could win support from its Senate allies. Before nominating Ms. Omarova, the White House considered at least three other individuals for the role but never nominated them.
At present, the agency is run on an interim basis by Michael Hsu, a former Fed staffer. It has been without a Senate-confirmed head since May 2020.
U.S. Senate Banking Committee Ranking Member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) issued the following statement after Omarova withdrew her name from consideration, “During the confirmation process, a bipartisan consensus emerged that Professor Omarova’s self-proclaimed radical ideas for America’s financial system were not suitable for our nation’s top banking regulator. I hope the Biden administration will select a nominee with mainstream views about the American economy.”
Omarova is the exact kind of radical that America does not need and we hope the Biden administration will learn from this experience: Americans do not want leftist radicals destroying capitalism.
Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Communications for Americans for Limited Government.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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