Thursday’s Senate confirmation hearing on Saule Omarova, President Joe Biden’s choice to be comptroller of the currency, confirmed that she is the wrong person for the job. Flags the color of those that once were raised over Moscow were flying throughout the three-hour session.
Omarova is a professor of regulation of financial institutions, banking law, international finance, and corporate finance at Cornell. As comptroller of the currency, she would ensure that the “federal banking system operates in a safe and sound manner.”
The White House says she “is eminently qualified and was nominated for this role because of her lifetime of work,” and is “a leading academic” in her field.
Her critics, however, see someone whose policy positions are far out of step with a market economy.
Britain’s Daily Mail has labeled her “Biden’s new comrade.” Townhall’s Katie Pavlich says Omarova is a “Communist” who “wants all bank accounts to be controlled by the Fed.” South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott said during Thursday’s hearing that “I cannot think of a nominee more poorly suited to be the comptroller of the currency based solely on your public positions, statements and the weight of your writings than you are.”
The Kazakhstan-born Omarova, educated at Moscow State University, where she had a Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship, which “recently disappeared from her resume,” and also at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Northwestern University, has described herself as a “free-market idealist.” She swears she knows “that Soviet-style communism doesn’t work.”
“I’ve lived through it. That system was deeply flawed. It’s dead.”
In those writings referred to by Scott, she offered “a blueprint for a comprehensive restructuring of the central bank balance sheet as the basis for redesigning the core architecture of modern finance,” which would “complete migration of demand deposit accounts to the Fed’s balance sheet.” Meaning that “there will be no more private bank deposit accounts, and all of the deposit accounts will be held directly at the Fed.”
Omarova’s intellectual rambling is a plan that “inherently conflicts with economic freedom and, instead, proposes to put a ruling class directly in charge of everyone else’s economic decisions,” says the Cato Institute’s Norbert Michel. Other work from Omarova, he adds, “exposes ideas that are even more fundamentally opposed to a free enterprise system and the American system of government.”
Let’s be straight here. If Omarova were a free-market idealist, no Democrat would ever nominate her for an administration slot, or even hire her to clean gender-neutral White House restrooms. The political left does not believe in markets – it is dedicated to central planning, to ruling rather than representing, to a hand around the neck rather than the invisible hand of Adam Smith.
Credit GOP Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania for being a strong counterweight to the Democrats’ “aw, shucks, she’s just a taken-out-of context academic who loves her adopted country and is the best person for the job.” Risking, and of course receiving, derision from the other side of the aisle, the ranking member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee exposed Omarova for who she is.
“You advocated that the Federal Reserve set prices across our economy by openly buying and selling commodities to manipulate the price to where the Fed wants it to be,” Toomey said, also noting that as comptroller of the currency, given the job’s wide-ranging and discretionary powers, she would get to decide “who gets to open a bank and who doesn’t.”
“You’d get to decide what kind of loans could be made and which ones can’t,” Toomey continued. “You could forbid a bank from a merger. You could forbid a bank from opening new branches. You could create, or destroy, a whole category of bank charters.”
With thank kind of power, she could bankrupt “smaller players” in the coal and oil-and-gas industries, which she has said is exactly what “we” should “want” “if we want to tackle climate change.”
When given the opportunity Thursday to explain herself, Omarova said that she “absolutely” does not want to ruin these companies, claiming she “misspoke.”
“It was not a well-phrased sentence,” she said
That’s a bit more unique than an “I don’t recall” response but is equally unbelievable.
Finally, let’s try to square Omarova’s claim that the Soviet economic system is dead with her yearning-for-the-old-days tweet in which she said, “say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best.'”
Her attempt to dig herself out of that hole only took her deeper.
“I never claimed women and men were treated absolutely equally in every facet of Soviet life. But people’s salaries were set (by the state) in a gender-blind manner. And all women got very generous maternity benefits. Both things are still a pipe dream in our society!”
She might have left the classrooms of her Soviet education behind in Moscow, but the lessons clearly never left her.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board