Neera Tanden deletes more than 1,000 incendiary tweets in preparation for confirmation

Republicans said they will block Ms Tanden’s confirmation if they maintain control of the Senate

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 02 December 2020 18:43 GMT
Joe Biden says his staff have spoken to Dr Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful'

The first order of business for Neera Tanden, Joe Biden's nominee to lead the federal Office of Management and Budget, appears to be deleting more than a thousand tweets, some of which contain criticisms of the senators who will vote to confirm her.  

Ms Tanden is the president of the Centre for American Progress. Like many people involved in national politics, she spends a lot of time online, especially on Twitter. Also like many Americans, Ms Tanden gets into fights on social media and makes incendiary posts.  

Unlike most Americans, however, the people she often tweets about will now have a hand in determining whether or not she will join a presidential administration.  

Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican, called Ms Tanden Mr Biden's "worst nominee so far" specifically because of her "insulting" tweets.  

"I think, in light of her combative and insulting comments about many members of the Senate, mainly on our side of the aisle, that it creates certainly a problematic path," he said to USA Today.  

Mr Cornyn's communication director, Drew Brandewie, followed up the comment by predicting Ms Tanden "stands zero chance of being confirmed" because of her "endless stream of disparaging comments about the Republican Senators whose vote she'll need."    

Mr Biden has defended Ms Tanden, praising her “practical experience.”

The Daily Beast was the first to report that Ms Tanden had been deleting tweets. According to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, Ms Tanden had 88,600 published tweets on 16 November. As of Monday, that number dropped to 87,600. By 8pm Monday night, that number dropped further to 87,500.  

Several of the deleted tweets were direct attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  

“Can people on here please focus their ire on [Senate majority leader Mitch] McConnell and the GOP senators who are up [for re-election] this cycle who enable him,” Ms Tanden wrote in a now-deleted 2019 tweet. She also deleted tweets in which she used the hashtag "Moscow Mitch," a nickname insinuating that Mr McConnell is loyal to Russia.  

If Republicans retain control of the Senate, there is a chance that Ms Tanden will be rejected in the Senate. However, Democratic control of Senate does not guarantee her nomination, as she has also spent her time online picking fights with progressives.

Ms Tanden - who formally worked as an aide on Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign - is often critical of Sen. Bernie Sanders and the progressive wing of the Democratic coalition, going so far as to suggest in tweets that Russia wanted to see Mr Sanders win the election.  

During the 2020 presidential primary, Mr Sanders accused Ms Tanden and CAP of "maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas."  

Ms Tanden has been a vocal critic of progressive policies like Medicare for All and formerly advised Ms Clinton against supporting a $15 minimum wage. She also irked labour organising advocates after she shut down CAP's journalistic arm, ThinkProgress, when its staff attempted to unionise.  

Progressives who worked for Mr Sanders have been vocal in their opposition to Ms Tanden's involvement in a Biden administration.  

"Everything toxic about the corporate Democratic Party is embodied in Neera Tanden," Briahna Joy Gray, a former press secretary for Mr Sanders' 2020 campaign said. She characterised Ms Tanden as a "woman who is openly disdainful of Bernie Sanders and his coalition, but who is friendly with extreme bigots online."

Josh Fox, a climate activist and surrogate for Mr Sanders, said the choice did not seem to align with Mr Biden's message of unity.  

"It’s an odd choice for Biden and his ‘healing’ presidency to bring someone in who is so combative, especially on Twitter, being that we just ended a four-year Twitter presidency," Mr Fox told The Daily Beast. "She causes ire unnecessarily."

Journalist Matt Taibbi argued that Mr Biden's placement of Ms Tanden at the head of the OMB is "quite a creative f*** you" to Mr Sanders, who is the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee.  

Though Mr Sanders could vote against her nomination, it seems unlikely given that Mr Sanders was one of Mr Biden's most visible and vocal supporters during the general election.  

Ms Tanden has support from other prominent progressives as well, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, former Georgia lawmaker and activist Stacey Abrams, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Barbara Lee.  

"Neera Tanden is smart, experienced, and qualified for the position of OMB Director," Mr Brown told Reuters. "The American people decisively voted for change – Mitch McConnell shouldn’t block us from having a functioning government that gets to work for the people we serve."

Former Labour Secretary Robert Reich also praised Ms Tanden, offering that she and the rest of Mr Biden's economic team are "committed to full employment, boosting wages, [and] reducing inequality."  

Democrats were quick to point out the hypocrisy of Republicans arguing that rude Twitter posts were grounds for disqualification from political leadership.  

Former Sen. Claire McCaskill told MSNBC it is "just ridiculous" that "the Republican senators are now all of a sudden worried about tweets that hurt their feelings."  

“We’ve had a president who has used his Twitter account like a battering ram, going after not just his political opponents but Republican senators, unfairly, with incredibly brutal tweets. Now all of a sudden it’s a disqualification for someone to serve in the cabinet that engaged in her own opinion on Twitter? I think that’s dumb.”

Jen Psaki, Mr Biden's incoming White House press secretary, told The Guardian that Ms Tanden was "a brilliant policy expert and she knows how vital funding for [government] programs is. As a child for a period her family relied on food stamps to eat, on Section 8 vouchers to pay the rent and on the social safety. Her fresh perspective can help meet this moment."

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