Self-proclaimed President-elect Joe Biden has chosen a budget director, Neera Tanden, who once argued the US should ease funding shortages for left-wing social programs by making countries like Libya pay for being bombed.
Biden’s transition team on Monday announced its nominations for the six people selected to fill key economic roles in the incoming administration, led by former Federal Reserve Bank Chair Janet Yellen as treasury secretary. Tanden, a Hillary Clinton loyalist who currently heads the Center for American Progress, will be director of the Office of Management and Budget if Biden’s media-declared election victory withstands legal challenges from President Donald Trump.
This crisis-tested team will help lift America out of our current economic downturn and build back better—creating an economy that gives every single American a fair shot and an equal chance to get ahead. https://t.co/F6JMBHUgVx
— Biden-Harris Presidential Transition (@Transition46) November 30, 2020
However, critics have already recalled an example of her unusual budgeting philosophy. In a 2011 email that was made public by WikiLeaks, Tanden said Libya should be made to pay for the bombing campaign that helped to topple Muammar Gaddafi’s government, which would help balance the US domestic budget.
“We have a giant deficit, they have a lot of oil,” Tanden said. “Most Americans would choose not to engage in the world because of that deficit.”
If we want to continue to engage in the world, gestures like having oil-rich countries partially pay us back doesn’t seem crazy to me.
Just a reminder:
Per @wikileaks, Neera Tanden once said of Libya: "We have a deficit, they have alot of oil".
This is who Joe Biden wants to head up the Office of Management and Budget, in case you were wondering about her fiscal philosophy. pic.twitter.com/ieqAwVsvRq
— Robbie Jaeger 🔎 (@RobletoFire) November 29, 2020
Tanden added that demanding such payment would be better than cutting social programs, such as food aid for poor Americans. “Do we prefer cuts to Head Start? Or WIC? Or Medicaid? Because we live in deficit politics, and that’s what is happening and will be happening even more.”
She sent that message on October 21, 2011 – the day after Gaddafi was brutally murdered by militants in Sirte, following seven months of a NATO bombing campaign. Gaddafi’s overthrow turned Libya into a failed state and led to the rise of Islamist groups and a slave trade. It also helped spur the European migrant crisis.
To demand payment for such a catastrophe might seem absurd, at least in hindsight, but the idea was hardly Tanden’s only eyebrow-raising statement or action. The Yale-trained lawyer allegedly punched a reporter in the chest in 2008 after he asked Clinton a question about supporting the Iraq War. After Clinton lost the 2016 presidential election, Tanden quickly embraced the never-proved theory that Russia stole the contest for Trump.
Tanden suggested as recently as last year that nothing in the infamous Steele dossier had been disproven. She later turned on fellow Democrat Tulsi Gabbard after the congresswoman spoke out against arming terrorists to overthrow Syria’s government. She also suggested that Gabbard, an Iraq War veteran, is linked to Russia.
What parts of the dossier have been disproven? I will wait. https://t.co/I58DBGknjG
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) January 18, 2019
Tanden also has critics on the left, given some of her past policy statements and her alleged disdain for Senator Bernie Sanders, who was Biden’s chief rival in the Democrat primaries.
To foster unity, Biden taps Republicans and Neera Tanden, a woman who is openly disdainful of Bernie Sanders and his coalition, but who is friendly with extreme bigots online. pic.twitter.com/PhoETbzYGn
— BJG 👑 (@briebriejoy) November 29, 2020
One of Biden’s other top candidates for budget director, Bruce Reed, had also faced opposition from the left. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan), members of the ‘Squad’ progressive wing in the US House, last week petitioned to block Reed from the top budget job, essentially because of his advocacy for balancing the budget. The congresswomen called Reed a “deficit hawk” and said rejecting him would be “a major test for the soul of the Biden presidency.”