President Joe Biden’s controversial pick for a top banking regulatory position once said that the sector she has been nominated to oversee is filled with a bunch of “a**holes.”
Saule Omarova, who was nominated to be comptroller of the currency and has been heavily criticized by Republicans and Wall Street over her academic musings, bashed the finance industry in a 2011 documentary .
“The financial services industry, in my view — and I don’t think I’m alone here — is a quintessential a**hole industry,” the Cornell Law School professor is heard telling a group of people.
She was also apparently interviewed for the film, which examines narcissism and self-centered behavior in various industries.
“When you think about the pervasiveness of systematically a**hole-type behavior in a particular social venue — for example, the financial services industry — then the problem of managing a**hole becomes a structural problem in which law can potentially have a lot of say,” Omarova said.
“So, if we make certain types of a**hole behaviors systemically unprofitable, for example, irrational, something that is not rewarding, then that behavior will naturally kind of fall away, and, overall, the system will become less prone to being overtaken by a bunch of a**holes that continue to pursue their own private goals, their own insatiable appetite for private gain at the expense of the rest of us, the rest of society,” she continued.
Omarova’s nomination has faced intense scrutiny given her past remarks and writings about the banking industry. A recent paper she authored, titled “The People’s Ledger: How to Democratize Money and Finance the Economy,” puts forward a plan for “radically reshaping the basic architecture and dynamics of modern finance.”
This week, a video of Omarova resurfaced from earlier this year in which she said “we want” oil and gas companies to go bankrupt, although she also acknowledged the country couldn’t afford such a loss of jobs.
She has also raised the idea of a National Investment Authority, a new government bureaucracy that directly acts in financial markets to allocate “both public and private capital” to fight inequality, climate change, and other societal ills.
While Republicans insist that she is too radical for the job, some Democrats have accused them of red-baiting given the fact that she was raised in Kazakhstan during the Soviet Union and attended Moscow State University on the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship.
Omarova has decried the criticism as being rooted in sexism and bias toward her Kazakh heritage.
She will face a much-anticipated confirmation hearing on Thursday before the Senate Banking Committee, where she will take questions from Republicans seeking to persuade some of the more centrist members of the Democratic Party to vote against her.