- Some nominations of the president-elect generate misgivings among the left and civil society
- Several nominees have ties to the gun industry, fund managers or Silicon Valley
- The Democrat has pledged to create the most ethical Administration in the country’s history
A good part of the national security team works for a consulting firm that advertises itself on its website as a bridge between the Situation Room of the White House and board of directors of the companies. The potential defense secretary is in the pay of one of the biggest weapons contractors of the Pentagon. Two of the main economic advisers come out of the quarry of the largest fund investor of the world. And the person in charge of the budget ran a laboratory of ideas financed by foreign countries and large companies. Those are some of the corporate cabinet connections that is forming the president-elect of the United States, a Joe Biden who has promised to create “the More rigorously ethical administration of the history ”of the country.
Biden is not the first president to commit to reform the toxic culture of the revolving doors and the excessive influence of large industries in the United States Government, partially responsible for the enormous discredit that its institutions drag. Barack Obama wanted to conspire to close the doors of his Administration to the lobbyists. Y Donald Trump made a career out of his commitment to “Drain the swamp” of corruption in Washington. But those promises never quite materialized, so they have now become one of Biden’s hot potatoes, subjected to close surveillance from civil society and the democratic left so that you do not fall into the mistakes of the past. At the moment, the result is far from the best expectations, although also the worst.
“The improvement has been minimal,” says in an interview director del Revolving Door Project, Jeff Hauser. “The situation has improved compared to the times of Bill Clinton, when a lot of people were hired directly from the business world. Now they are more like people with a political profile who did business while the Democrats were in opposition. It is very similar to what happened with Obama”. Biden has agreed to sign an executive order with ethical rules as strict as Obama’s, but his pulse has not shaken when it comes to betting on lieutenants with a controversial baggage, people of his confidence closely linked to his political career.
BlackRock and the military industry
“Until now the industries most benefited are the industrial military complex and the fund manager BlackRock”Says Hauser. The investment firm of Larry Fink, which manages a global portfolio with a value close to eight trillion dollars and is considered a vulture background by his detractors, has occupied the space that Goldman Sachs held in other Administrations. From there they have come Brian Reese, nominated to head the National Economic Council, and Wally Adeyemo, number two of the Treasury, lately director of the Obama Foundation.
The military industry you can also be satisfied. The African American General Lloyd Austin, chosen to lead Defense, is part of the board of directors of Raytheon, one of the preferred partners of the Pentagon, with foreign clients such as Saudi Arabia, who has used his weapons in the yemen war. The charge has brought him 1.4 million dollars. “It is a serious error that threatens democracy“Common Defense, a progressive group of veterans, said after his appointment. Austin is in turn linked to Pine Island Capital Partners, an investment firm specializing in the arms industry, also associated with Tony blinking, the future head of American diplomacy.
After leaving the Obama Administration, from which the vast majority of Biden-nominated positions come, Blinken founded the WestExec consulting in Washington, for which the National Director of Intelligence also worked, April Haines, or the head of communication, Jen Psaki. “WestExec is a shadow lobi which sells its knowledge of the public sector to the highest bidder, ”says Hauser. The consulting firm has defended itself by denying that it works with foreign companies or governments, but since it is not formally a lobbyist, it is not required to make its client portfolio public.
The tentacles of Silicon Valley
They are not the only controversial nominations. As a counselor to the White House, Biden has elected Steve Richetti, a veteran lobbyist who has been working at his side since 2012. As a Tsar against him covid-19, has located Jeff Zients, until now a member of the board of directors of Facebook. And at the head of the budget office he has put Neera Teeth, president of Center For American Progress, a think tank funded by the heavyweights of Silicon Valley, Walmart or the sovereign fund of Arab Emirates. For Commerce there are several names linked to Amazon.
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Despite their corporate connections, some of those names have fame of reformers, and the feeling among the left is that it could have been a lot worse. “The progressive pressure has managed to prevent some of the worst names from joining the Administration ”, said David Dayen, director of the ‘American Prospect’, one of his bedside magazines. Others think that Biden has done well by not giving in to purity demanded by the left, as long as it ends up imposing ethical standards that force its positions to break all ties with their former employers.