A Mellowed Neera Tanden Gets Promotion as President Biden’s Domestic Policy Advisor
- After her derailed nomination to head the OMB two years ago, not only her rehabilitation appears complete, but she moves into the upstairs office at the White House with greater influence than she ever had.
An unapologetic partisan, a card-carrying centrist, a fierce loyalist, and a formidable fundraiser, she is known for her wonky policy chops and administrative skills. But it was her acerbic tongue and tweets that almost derailed Neera Tanden’s career when both Republicans and some Democrats refused to support her nomination as Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget early in the Biden administration.
Given her indispensable traits, however, President Biden appointed her as White House Senior Advisor and Staff Secretary which does not require Senate confirmation. And on Friday, signaling her near complete rehabilitation, as it were, the President elevated Tandon to the position of Domestic Policy Advisor, a cabinet-level position under outgoing Susan Rice who has recently resigned. The position does not need Senate confirmation either.
“I am pleased to announce that Neera Tanden will continue to drive the formulation and implementation of my domestic policy, from economic mobility and racial equity to health care, immigration, and education,” President Biden said in a statement.
“As Senior Advisor and Staff Secretary, Neera oversaw decision-making processes across my domestic, economic, and national security teams. She has 25 years of experience in public policy, has served three Presidents, and led one of the largest think tanks in the country for nearly a decade,” the statement added.
In her now infamous tweets, Tanden spared no one who stood in the way of her party or people she was loyal to, taking on Republicans as well as left-wingers in her own party. Before her nomination, Tanden tried in vain to cover her tracks by deleting nearly 1,000 tweets. Having served in the Clinton administration and been a friend and advisor to Hillary Clinton for nearly 25 years, Tanden had no patience for Sen. Bernie Sanders when he challenged her mentor during the 2016 Democratic primaries. She almost implied he was Russia’s Manchurian candidate.
In similar vein, she called Sen. Mitch McConnell “Moscow Mitch,” Sen. Tom Cotton “ a fraud” and declared that vampires have more heart than Sen. Ted Cruz. Declining to support her OMB nomination, fellow Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin said, “I have carefully reviewed Neera Tanden’s public statements and tweets that were personally directed towards my colleagues on both sides of the aisle from Senator Sanders to Senator McConnell and others … her overtly partisan statements will have a toxic and detrimental impact on the important working relationship between members of Congress and the next director of the Office of Management and Budget.”
Progressive Democrats also had a beef with her centrist policy positions that aligned more with President Clinton’s so-called triangulation approach than with the party that had swung left over the past two decades. Left wingers also were critical of her role as the longest-serving president of Center for American Progress, a think tank that was seen as too obliged to corporate interests and the Democratic establishment. As the Daily Beast reported in 2021, Tanden has been a vocal critic of progressive policies like Medicare for All and previously advised Ms Clinton against supporting a $15 minimum wage. She also irked labor organizing advocates after she shut down CAP’s journalistic arm, ThinkProgress, when its staff attempted to unionize.”
Of course, it is not as though all progressives had a bone to pick with Tanden. She received support from others including Sen. Sherrod Brown, former Georgia lawmaker and activist Stacey Abrams, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Barbara Lee.
After all tumultuous nomination drama, which ended in Tanden withdrawing from consideration, she has mellowed in her role as the President’s Staff Secretary, keeping a low profile, not rustling any feathers and working behind the scenes at the White House. Since then, as The New York Times says, “Tanden’s influence inside the West Wing has grown, even as the number of her public appearances shrank considerably.”