Republican senators grilled President Biden’s Soviet-born choice to lead a key branch of the Treasury Department during her confirmation hearing Thursday, with one saying he had “never seen a more radical nominee to be a federal regulator.”
Saule Omarova, nominated by Biden to be comptroller of the currency in September, has come under fire for past writings — including a paper titled “The People’s Ledger” that advocated for ending banking “as we know it” by making private banks “non-depository lenders” and moving Americans’ money to the Federal Reserve.
Omarova claimed to members of the Senate Banking Committee Thursday that the “end banking as we know it” comment was “actually my quoting a title, the title of a book that someone else wrote.”
In his opening remarks, committee ranking member Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) accused Omarova of a “long history of promoting ideas that she herself describes as ‘radical.’ I agree that they’re radical and they can fairly be described also as socialist.”
“She has a plan for the government, through the Fed, to replace the free market and setting what she calls, and I quote, ‘systemically important prices,’ end quote,” Toomey went on. “But these are things she listed — these are things like wages, energy. And since the administration has done such a great job on inflation, I’m sure Americans can’t wait until the Fed starts directly controlling prices for eggs and milk and rent.”
Toomey also noted a 2019 tweet from Omarova in which she extolled the “old USSR” where there was “no gender pay gap.”
During the question period, Toomey asked Omarova if she still supported housing deposits with the Federal Reserve.
“Senator, what I’m trying to clarify here is the problem this paper was trying to solve,” Omarova argued, adding that her job as an academic “was to expand the boundaries and outline potential options for Congress to consider.”
“This is entirely up to Congress whether or not to go that route,” she went on.
“But this is what you recommended,” Toomey shot back, “and it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that every one of these thought experiments or academic ideas … involved dramatic expansion in the power and control of the central government to allocate resources, to control banking, and a corresponding diminution in the freedom of individual Americans and institutions.
“To suggest now that maybe you’re not really for these things,” the Pennsylvanian added. “It’s hard to believe this.”