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Don’t know whether to call you ‘professor’ or ‘comrade’: Kennedy brings the fire to Biden’s Treasury pick

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Sen. John Kennedy made an eye-opening reference to Saule Omarova’s communist upbringing as he grilled President Biden’s nominee to oversee U.S. banks during a confirmation hearing on Thursday.

At one point during his questioning of Omavora, who has been nominated by Biden to head up the Treasury Department’s Office of the Comptroller, Kennedy ticked off several of her academic works and views, all of which are deferential to far-left economic theories like Marxism and socialism, according to a video clip posted online.

“In 2020 you wrote a paper called, ‘The People’s Ledger,’ where you said we need to abolish bank accounts and make everybody set up an account with the Fed, where the federal government will have access to your data,” the Louisiana Republican said.

The same year, Kennedy, noted, “you wrote another paper called, ‘The Climate Case for a National Investment Authority,’ where you said what we need to do to the oil and gas industry is have the federal government bankrupt it so we can tackle climate change.”

“In 2019, you joined…a Marxist Facebook group to discuss socialist and anti-capitalist views,” he added.

“Now that’s what I see from your record. And you have the right to believe every one of these things,” Kennedy continued, addressing Omarova directly. “You do. This is America. But, I don’t mean any disrespect, but I don’t know whether to call you ‘professor’ or ‘comrade.'”

Later, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) lashed out at Kennedy’s remark.

“Calling a nominee comrade — as if we don’t know what that means — is something else. It’s beneath the dignity of this institution,” he said.

Omarova grew up in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, which was part of the Soviet Union. The first institution of higher learning she attended was Moscow State University on the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship, where she graduated in 1989, a year before the USSR collapsed. While there, she wrote a thesis titled, “Karl Marx’s Economic Analysis and the Theory of Revolution in The Capital.”

At one point in her professional career, she served in the Treasury Department under then-President George W. Bush as a special advisor on regulatory policy to the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.

Other Republicans cited a position she took in 2017 advocating for the federal government to have a representative on certain corporate boards. She argued for a system that would give “a special ‘golden share’ (‘SGS’) regime that would grant direct but strictly conditional corporate governance rights to a designated government representative on the board of each systemically important banking organization.”

She said that during good economic times, the government representative would serve passively but be given “direct management rights” during economic crises and turmoil, which is a classic top-down Soviet economic principle.

Kennedy was not the only Republican to call into question Omarova’s socio-economic leanings.

“Prof. Omarova has promoted radical — radical is her description — nationalizing the banking system, imposing government price controls, espousing the idea that money is a public, not a private good, curtailing economic innovation, dramatically limiting economic freedom and choice, having the government seize seats on corporate boards,” Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said in closing the hearing.

“These are ideas consistent with the socialist view of a command and control economy,” he said. “The idea that we would put a person with these views as the chief regulator of America’s national banks is deeply disturbing and chilling.”

Jon Dougherty

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