The Truth About Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden is listed as an expert on the economy, elections, health care, domestic policy, and women's issues. According to The Washington Post, she's also a veteran of several administrations, having worked under former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Per the outlet, President-elect Joe Biden has now named Tanden as his choice to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, which is meant to help the administration carry out its economic agenda. She is the first woman of color who, if nominated, will lead the budget office. Her supporters say she is passionate and willing to fight for policy issues, and that tone will be critical when Republicans wish to cut back on spending at a time when economists say the government needs to spend to help the economy.

In announcing her as his pick, Biden described Neera Tanden as having a "brilliant policy mind with critical practical experience across government." While she comes with plenty of experience, this longtime government official has a backstory, too.

Neera Tanden grew up in a single-parent household

Similarly to the mother of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Shyamala, Neera Tanden's mom, Maya, was also born in India — but Tanden herself was born and raised in a Boston suburb. Following the immigrant parents' divorce, Maya found herself raising her two children while on welfare, before she managed to get a travel agent job two years later, per Yahoo! News

"We relied on food stamps to eat. We relied on Section 8 housing vouchers to pay the rent. We relied on the social safety net to get back on our feet," Tanden revealed at the Biden Transition team's headquarters in Wilmington, Del., according to NPR. "This country gave [my mother] a fair shot to reach the middle class, and she made it work." After nabbing her job, Tanden added of her mother (via India's The Tribune), "Before long, she was able to buy us our own home in Bedford, Massachusetts, and see her children off to college, and beyond."

Neera Tanden's childhood experience may have an impact on budget decisions

Neera Tanden eventually made it to the University of California, Los Angeles, before heading to Yale Law School, per her bio on the Center for American Progress (CAP) website. She later kickstarted her career in public service as an associate director for domestic policy in the Bill Clinton White House, and as a senior policy adviser to Hillary Clinton.

As president and CEO of the CAP, Tanden is credited with creating a group aimed at combating Republican efforts to cut social programs. Under her, the CAP also took up the fight against many of the changes that President Donald Trump had wanted to push, including setting limits for immigrants to get government help. "CAP has been at the center of most of the big fights through four years of Trump," the executive vice president of policy group Public Citizen, Lisa Gilbert, tells The Washington Post. "That speaks to someone coming in who knows what norms were broken — and where we will have to throw down."

If her nomination to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget is approved, her time in the Joe Biden administration is likely to be impacted by her childhood. "Budgets are not abstractions. They are a reflection of our values," Tanden has said (via India's The Tribune). "They touch our lives in profound ways, and sometimes they make all the difference."

Neera Tanden may have a difficult time at her confirmation hearings

While Neera Tanden may be considered by some to be one of the most qualified persons to join the incoming Joe Biden administration, she is also one of its most controversial, partly because she has used Twitter to lash out at Republican senators who are expected to head the committees that will vet her nomination. Senator John Cornyn of Texas, for example, has already told The Washington Post, "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."

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who served under President Donald Trump, has also gone on the offensive, claiming via Twitter on Dec. 1, 2020: "Tanden has shown bad judgment in the past. She said that @realDonaldTrump is 'part of [a] conspiracy against [the] US' & has a track record of disparaging Rep Senators. There's a saying that 'personnel is policy,' which is why Biden's nomination of Tanden is deeply concerning." 

However, Democrat senators appear to be ready to stand behind Tanden. On the Senate floor, Minority leader Chuck Schumer called her "so eminently qualified that some on the Republican side, grasping at straws, have taken issue with comments made on Twitter criticizing the policy positions of Republicans in Congress" (via CNN). He added, "Honestly, the hypocrisy is astounding. If Republicans are concerned about criticism on Twitter, their complaints are better directed at President Trump."