Indian American Neera Tanden nominated to lead White House Office of Management and Budget

Indian American Neera Tanden has been named by President-elect Biden to head the powerful White House Office of Management and Budget.
Neera Tanden (left) with Vice President -elect Kamala Harris.

WASHINGTON  (TIP): President elect Joe Biden has  named Indian American Neera Tanden to head the powerful White House Office of Management and Budget. Tanden, 50, who currently heads left leaning think tank Centre for American Progress, will be the first Indian American to get a cabinet level position in a Democratic administration. But overall it will be the second such position for the community as Republican Nikki Haley held cabinet-rank as President Donald Trump’s US ambassador to the UN. Besides Tanden, key members of Biden’s economic team include Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury, Wally Adeyemo as her deputy, Cecilia Rouse, as Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers with Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey as members.

“This crisis-tested team will help President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris lift America out of the current economic downturn and build back better,” an announcement from Biden transition said.

“These choices reflect the president-elect’s commitment to building an administration that looks like America, drawing on the diverse backgrounds and lived experiences of some of our nation’s foremost economic experts,” it added. “As we get to work to control the virus, this is the team that will deliver immediate economic relief for the American people during this economic crisis and help us build our economy back better than ever,’ he said.

“This team looks like America and brings seriousness of purpose, the highest degree of competency, and unwavering belief in the promise of America,” Biden said. “They will be ready on day one to get to work for all Americans.” “Our top priorities upon entering the White House are getting this virus under control and opening our economy responsibly,” said Harris.

“The outstanding economic team that President-elect Biden is bringing together will help us deliver on our commitment. They are not only some of America’s most brilliant economic minds, they are also proven leaders who reflect the very best of our country,” she said.

“And they share a fundamental commitment to ending this economic crisis and putting people back to work, while rebuilding our economy in a way that lifts up all Americans.”

“With the selection of these crisis-tested public servants, the American people are getting the economic team they need — and deserve,” Harris said. The announcement noted that If confirmed, Yellen will be the first woman to lead the Treasury Department in its 231-year history, and the first person to have served as Treasury Secretary, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Chair of the Federal Reserve.

If confirmed, Tanden would be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to lead the OMB, it said.

Tanden, according to her official bio released by the transition, “has focused on pursuing policies designed to support working families, foster broad-based economic growth, and curb rampant inequality.”

Her experience as a child relying on food stamps and Section 8 housing as a child — a social safety net that offered her single mother the foundation she needed to land a good job and punch her family’s ticket to the middle class,” it said. “A veteran of multiple presidential administrations, Tanden has been a leading architect and advocate of policies designed to support working families, foster broad-based economic growth, and curb inequality throughout her career,” the announcement said.

Prior to her tenure as President & CEO, Tanden held the post of Chief Operating Officer at the Center for American Progress. She currently serves on the New Jersey Restart and Recovery Commission, and previously served as senior adviser for health reform at the US Department of Health and Human Services developing policies and provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Tanden also worked as director of domestic policy for the first Obama-Biden presidential campaign, and in a variety of other roles in government and on the campaign trail.

A native of Bedford, Massachusetts, Tanden received her Bachelor of Science degree from UCLA and her JD from Yale Law School. Tanden’s nomination is a part of Biden plan to build a team of liberal and centrist economic advisers to serve alongside planned Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen, The Wall Street Journal said.

Tanden, the media said, will be under pressure from conservatives to rein in government spending but will probably play an instrumental role in crafting the Biden administration’s response to the current economic downturn. “Big job and a real important first in the Cabinet,” said Shekar Narasimhan, a top fundraiser for Biden who has known Tanden for a long time.

She has a great story (single mother, knows what it is to be poor) but went to Harvard and is the most well-versed person in progressive economics I have ever met,” he said adding, “I am (a) huge Neera fan!”

Tanden, who went to Yale, was born in Massachusetts in 1970 to parents from India, who divorced when she was five. Tanden and her brother were brought up by their mother.

“On the heels of Kamala Harris set to become the next vice-president, it is great to see another well qualified Indian American woman be nominated for a Cabinet level position,” said MR Rangaswami, founder of Indiaspora, an advocacy group for the community.

“It is gratifying to see someone who has dedicated herself to public service be recognized for this important role to manage the budget of the country.”

Biden defends ‘smart as hell’ Neera Tanden

Indian American Neera Tanden is a brilliant policy mind with critical practical experience across governments, President-elect Joe Biden has said after he formally announced her nomination as the Director of Office of Management and Budget at the White House.

The opposition Republicans would look to pick a fight on some nominees “no matter what” he told the media in an interview published Wednesday.

“That disqualifies almost every Republican senator and 90 percent of the administration,” Biden said noting Tanden has come under fire from some Republicans over her at-times confrontational Twitter presence.

“But by the way, she’s smart as hell. Yeah, I think they’re going to pick a couple of people just to fight [over] no matter what,” he quipped.

“Biden’s comments are an indication he will stand by Tanden, even as her nomination shapes up as one of the toughest forthcoming confirmation fights of the new administration,” Politico said

Tanden worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign has previously referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “Moscow Mitch” and recently deleted tweets that appeared to be critical of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), an adviser to the Senate Republican leadership, on Monday called Tanden Biden’s “worst nominee so far.”

“She’s been pretty partisan in some of her previous positions and in many cases with respect to Republican senators who have to vote on her potential nomination,” Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.) was quoted as saying.

Like Kamala, Neera stands on the shoulders of her Indian mother

Neera Tanden, the first Indian American named for a cabinet level position in a Democratic administration, fondly recalls how her India born mother helped her rise like that of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

“Like the Vice President-elect’s mother, Shyamala, my mother, Maya, was born in India,” recalled Tanden Tuesday after being introduced by President-elect Joe Biden as his nominee to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

“Like so many millions, across every generation, she came to America to pursue a better life,” Tanden said at an event in Wilmington, Delaware where Biden and Harris introduced their economic team.

“I was raised in a suburb of Boston — a middle-class kid,” said Tanden. “But when I was five, my parents got divorced and my mom was left on her own with two children — and without a job.”

“She faced a choice — return to India, where at the time divorce was stigmatized and opportunity would be limited — or keep fighting for her American Dream,” she said. “She stayed, and America came through for her when times were tough,” said Tanden recalling her single mother’s grit to keep her family afloat through adversity.

“We relied on food stamps to eat. We relied on Section 8 vouchers to pay the rent. We relied on the social safety net to get back on our feet,” she said. “This country gave her a fair shot to reach for the middle class and she made it work.”

“She got a job as a travel agent, and before long, she was able to buy us our own home in Bedford, Massachusetts, and see her children off to college, and beyond,” recalled Tanden.

“I’m here today thanks to my mother’s grit, but also thanks to a country that had faith in us, that invested in her humanity, and in our dreams,” she said.

Tanden said she was “here today because of social programs. Because of budgetary choices. Because of a government that saw my mother’s dignity and gave her a chance.”

Now, it’s her turn “to help shape those budgets and programs to keep lifting Americans up, to pull families back from the brink,” she said. “To give everybody the fair chance my mother got, and that everyone deserves.”

“That’s the America Maya and Shyamala were drawn to — the America the President-elect and Vice President-elect are ready to grow,” she said.

“I believe so strongly that our government is meant to serve all the American people — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike, all of whom deserve to know that their government has their back,” Tanden said.

Thanking Biden and Harris for the trust placed in her, Tanden said, “I’m especially proud to work alongside leaders who understand that budgets are not abstractions.”

“They are a reflection of our values. They touch our lives in profound ways. Sometimes, they make all the difference,” she said.

Introducing Tanden as a “a brilliant policy mind with critical practical experience across government,” Biden noted, “She will be the first woman of color and first South Asian American to lead the OMB.”

“She will be in charge of laying out my budget that will help us control the virus, deal with the economic crisis, and build back better,” he said.

Congratulating Biden on “choosing this outstanding economic team,” Harris said, “This is the team we need to deliver immediate economic relief to the American people, to get our economy back on track, and to make sure it works for working people.” “We were raised to respect the dignity of work,” she said. “That’s why I’ve always fought for working people — from standing up for middle class families who’d lost their homes in the Great Recession to joining picket lines to advance workers’ rights.”

“And I look forward to collaborating with this extraordinary team to put working people front and center in this administration,” Harris said describing them as “some of America’s most brilliant minds.”

Giving a glimpse of their agenda, Harris spoke of the team’s “commitment to building an economy — an America — where everyone has access to a higher minimum wage and affordable health care.”

“Paid family leave and paid sick leave. Homeownership, and capital to start a small business,” she said. “An America where opportunity is within reach for everyone. For all The People.”

“So, we’ve got a lot of work to do, to build that America. And President-elect Biden and I, with this economic team, will be ready to hit the ground running on day one,” Harris promised.

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