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REVEALED: Biden's nominee for Comptroller of the Currency thinks the Fed should 'end banking', admires the Soviet Union's economy because there was 'no gender pay gap' and says hedge funds are an 'a**hole industry'

 A Cornell University law professor who advocated ending banking 'as we know it' and praised the Soviet Union's financial system over its lack of a gender pay gap has been tapped by the White House to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). 

Saule Omarova's nomination to head the regulatory agency overseeing the country's largest banks is a controversial choice that's alarmed banking groups. 

She's advocated for moving Americans' financial accounts from private banks to the Federal Reserve and force banks to lose leverage on federal subsidies by becoming 'non-depository lenders.'

 It would diminish the stature of the institutions she's supposed to regulate.

'By separating their lending function from their monetary function, the proposed reform will effectively “end banking,” as we know it,' Omarova wrote in a paper updated in February of this year titled 'The People's Ledger.' 

She summed it up more concisely in a 2019 documentary film titled 'A**holes: A Theory.' Omarova called Wall Street's hedge fund-dominated culture a 'quintessential a**hole industry.'  

Heading the OCC, however, Omarova wouldn't have any power over the Fed.  

If approved Omarova would be the first woman and first nonwhite person to lead the agency in its 158-year history. 

Operating as an independent agency within the US Treasury, the 3,500-person office sets bank policies dealing with more traditional merges and acquisitions and the expanding digital trade. 

Omarova graduated from Moscow State University in 1989 on a scholarship named after Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. After moving to the US in 1991, Omarova got a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin and her law degree from Northwestern University. 

Born in Kazakhstan in the former Soviet Union, the law professor previously praised the communist country's economy as something the US should aspire to.

Omarova previously called Wall Street's hedge funds a 'quintessential a**hole industry' in the documentary A**holes: A Theory (pictured here)

Omarova previously called Wall Street's hedge funds a 'quintessential a**hole industry' in the documentary A**holes: A Theory (pictured here)

'Until I came to the US, I couldn’t imagine that things like gender pay gap still existed in today’s world. Say what you will about old USSR, there was no gender pay gap there. Market doesn’t always ‘know best,’' Omarova posted on Twitter in 2019.

After being maligned online she appeared to backpedal but continued to praise Soviet society.

'I never claimed women and men were treated absolutely equally in every facet of Soviet life. But people’s salaries were set (by the state) in a gender-blind manner. And all women got very generous maternity benefits. Both things are still a pipe dream in our society!' she wrote.  

Omarova's embrace of government control over the finance industry has also led her to sound the alarm on cryptocurrencies.

She's argued that cryptocurrencies' rapid rise are 'benefiting mainly the dysfunctional financial system we already have.'

The professor has acknowledged that cryto's meteoric rise is a manifestation of peoples' hunger to make the finance industry more equitable, but she's cautioned that the lack of scrutiny on digital trades could lead to mounting problems before regulators have the chance to act.

That means lawmakers like Senator Elizabeth Warren who have long advocated for tighter oversight on the digital currency trade might have an ally in the agency tasked with overseeing the growing industry. 

She's also advocated for a Congressionally-established National Investment Authority, which would operate similarly to the Federal Reserve and map out strategies allocating 'both public and private capital' toward issues like climate change and inequality.

Some speculate that Biden nominated her to appease progressives who were angered over reports he may reappoint Jerome Powell to lead the Federal Reserve

Some speculate that Biden nominated her to appease progressives who were angered over reports he may reappoint Jerome Powell to lead the Federal Reserve

'The NIA Board would be charged with planning and coordinating the overall strategy of the country’s transition to a clean and inclusive economy,' Omarova wrote in 2020.

In late August she championed the idea again on Twitter, amid a growing affordable housing crisis.

'Once again, a proposed solution to one of America's systemic problems - shortage of affordable housing - that requires a National Investment Authority. The NIA could help new (& old) forms of housing provision reach game-changing scale,' Omarova wrote on Twitter.

The NIA is included in progressive Rep. Maxine Waters' (D-CA) Housing Is Infrastructure Act aimed at expanding green affordable housing that was introduced in July. 

On her social media Omarova shares criticisms of the big banks she's charged with overseeing, like JP Morgan and Citibank, as well as praise for the Biden administration's policies tackling monopolies and climate change.  

She'd need to testify before the Senate Banking Committee and pass a Senate confirmation vote, an uphill battle with the 50-50 split in Congress. 

If she is successful, it'll be Omarova's second time in the White House.

She previously worked in Republican President George W. Bush's Treasury as a special adviser on regulatory policy to the Under Secretary for Domestic Finance.

Omarova has championed creating an agency similar to the Federal Reserve that would strategize how to allocate funds to fight climate change and inequality

Omarova has championed creating an agency similar to the Federal Reserve that would strategize how to allocate funds to fight climate change and inequality

She's also been a frequent critic of large financial institutions

She's also been a frequent critic of large financial institutions 

But her nomination is already being opposed by other Republican lawmakers and alarming powerful banking groups that donate millions to both parties in Congress.

Senator Pat Toomey, ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, already signaled he would oppose Omarova leading the OCC.

'Ms. Omarova has called for ‘radically reshaping the basic architecture and dynamics of modern finance’ including nationalizing retail banking and having the Federal Reserve allocate credit. She has also advocated for ‘effectively end[ing] banking as we know it.’'

'In light of these, and other extreme leftist ideas, I have serious reservations about her nomination,' Toomey said in a statement. 

The American Bankers Association, a Washington-based trade group lobbying on behalf of financial institutions, also expressed concern over Biden's choice 

'We have serious concerns about her ideas for fundamentally restructuring the nation’s banking system which remains the most diverse and competitive in the world. Her proposals to effectively nationalize America’s community banks, end regulatory tailoring based on risk and eliminate the dual banking system are particularly troubling,' ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols said.

GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), ranking member on the House Financial Services Committee, said Omarova would prioritize installing a progressive agenda over regulating banks.

Senator Elizabeth Warren praised Omarova's nomination

Senator Elizabeth Warren praised Omarova's nomination

Senator Sherrod Brown, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, has praised Omarova's nomination
Senator Pat Toomey, ranking member on the committee, has expressed concern

She'll have to testify before the Senate Banking Committee. Democratic Chair Sen. Sherrod Brown (left) has praised her nomination while Republican ranking member Sen. Pat Toomey (right) expressed concern

'President Biden is once again placating his radical base by nominating Saule Omarova as the head of the OCC,' McHenry said in a statement. 'I am concerned Professor Omarova will prioritize a progressive social agenda over the core mission of the OCC—supervising and managing risk in our financial system.'

Even her potential future boss Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has reservations about Biden's pick, according to sources cited in a scathing op-ed blasting Omarova's nomination by the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board.

Biden nominating Omarova could be an offering to placate progressives who have been pushing back against reports he's thinking of reappointing Fed chair Jerome Powell to a second term. Powell's term ends in February but the White House hasn't formally submitted a pick for the role. 

Elizabeth Warren, who called Powell a 'dangerous man' this week and announced her intention to oppose his re-nomination, praised Biden's decision over Omarova.

'Saule Omarova's nomination to lead the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency is tremendous news. She is an excellent choice to oversee and regulate the activities of our nation's largest banks and I have no doubt she'll be a fearless champion for consumers,' Warren wrote on Facebook. 

And Senate Banking Committee Chair Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, called on his fellow committee members to support Omarova. 

'Her experience as a policymaker, in the private sector, and in academia will allow her to work with stakeholders across our financial system to ensure the economy works for everyone, and to protect our economic recovery from the risky activities of Wall Street and other bad actors,' said Brown. 

'I call on my colleagues on the Banking and Housing Committee to support this historic nominee to this position critical to our economy.'

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