Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during the confirmation hearing for Neera Tanden, nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), before the Senate Budget Committee on February 10, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during the confirmation hearing for Neera Tanden, nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), before the Senate Budget Committee on February 10, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

At Confirmation Hearing, Bernie Sanders Calls Out Neera Tanden's History of 'Vicious Attacks' on Progressives

The chairman of the Senate Budget Committee also pressed Tanden on her think tank's prolific fundraising from such corporate giants as Amazon, Walmart, and JPMorgan Chase.

Jake Johnson

While Republicans have worked to focus a sizeable portion of budget office nominee Neera Tanden's confirmation process on her past tweets condemning GOP lawmakers, Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday was sure to make note of the Center for American Progress president's long history of attacking progressives—including himself and his supporters.

"There were vicious attacks made against progressives, people who I have worked with, me personally," Sanders (I-Vt.) said during Tanden's appearance before the Senate budget panel on Wednesday for the second hearing on her nomination to lead the Office of Management and Budget, a crucial agency particularly during a time of economic calamity.

Sanders did not cite specific examples, but Tanden—a longtime loyalist to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—became notorious during the 2016 presidential race for disparaging the Vermont senator, his staff, and the progressive ideas he champions, including raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, a proposal that is now well within the mainstream of the Democratic Party.

Tanden's left-punching became an issue once more during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary after ThinkProgress, CAP's now-defunct news site, published an article and video criticizing then-candidate Sanders' appearance and book income and accusing him of being hypocritical in his denunciations of income inequality.

"Center for American Progress leader Neera Tanden repeatedly calls for unity while simultaneously maligning my staff and supporters and belittling progressive ideas," Sanders wrote in a letter to CAP's board in April of 2019. "This counterproductive negative campaigning needs to stop. The Democratic primary must be a campaign of ideas, not of bad faith smears."

In response to Sanders' questioning Wednesday, Tanden expressed regret for her past rhetoric and "expressions on social media" and vowed that, if confirmed to lead OMB, her approach to personal interactions will be "radically different."

Watch the exchange:

Sanders also used the budget committee hearing to press Tanden on CAP's prolific corporate fundraising during her more than nine years as the Democratic establishment-aligned think tank's president and CEO.

"I happen to believe that big money interests have an undue influence over the economic and political life of our country," Sanders said. "That, too often, campaign contributions are what determine policy rather than needs of ordinary Americans."

The Vermont senator pointed to Washington Post reporting detailing how since 2014, CAP has received millions of dollars in donations from Walmart—which Sanders noted pays its workers starvation-level wages—and other major corporations such as Google, Facebook, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

In an interview with the Post in 2015, Tanden said that "we're proud of our donors" and pointed to the list of contributors on CAP's website, which today features such corporate behemoths as Amazon.com, Bank of America, and Microsoft.

On Wednesday, Tanden—a past proponent of Social Security and Medicare cuts—said CAP's corporate donors "will have zero impact" on her decision-making at OMB and added, "It will be my role to ensure that I am only serving the interests of the American people."

Watch:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Anti-War Veterans Group Issues Its Own 'Nuclear Posture Review'

Released ahead of a Biden administration report, the assessment warns that the danger of nuclear war is greater than ever.

Jessica Corbett ·


Critics Warn Puerto Rico Debt Plan Will Lead to More Austerity

"The island's ability to resume growth and avoid cuts in anti-poverty programs are both chief concerns," said one economic justice advocate.

Julia Conley ·


Faith Leaders, Rights Groups to Biden: End Immigration Detention

"People are losing their lives to a detention system that simply does not need to exist," said one immigrant rights advocate.

Kenny Stancil ·


Top 10 US Billionaires Got $1 Billion Richer Every Day of Pandemic

"Each made about the same in a single minute as the average American household earns in an entire year. This can't continue," said Americans for Tax Fairness.

Jake Johnson ·


360+ Climate Groups to Biden: Phase Out Fossil Fuels on Public Lands

"The natural place to start phasing out climate-destroying oil and gas production is on our public lands and oceans, and Biden has the authority to do so. If the U.S. leads, the world will follow."

Jenna McGuire ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo