Biden Banking Nominee Proud Recipient of Collegiate 'Lenin Award'

Saule Omarova said equal pay was a 'huge achievement' by Soviet dictatorship

Saule Omarova in 2018 / Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
September 28, 2021

President Joe Biden's pick for the nation's top banking regulator received a scholarship named for Vladimir Lenin and praised the Soviet Union for paying the sexes equally.

Biden last week nominated Saule Omarova to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates national banks. Omarova in 2019 praised aspects of the Soviet Union's economic system, calling the lack of a gender pay gap a "huge achievement" and an example of a flaw in capitalism. A native of Kazakhstan, Omarova graduated in 1989 from Moscow State University, where she received the Lenin Personal Academic Scholarship, according to her résumé.

Omarova is already facing opposition from the financial services industry over her proposal to "end banking as we know it." A proponent of stricter bank regulations, Omarova has proposed a banking system that relies on individuals, rather than banks, to hold bank accounts with the Federal Reserve. She said that a radical change to the system would make it "more inclusive, efficient and stable."

Omarova teaches at Cornell School of Law and worked in the Bush administration's Treasury Department. She later obtained a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from Northwestern University.

In addition to tougher bank regulations, Omarova supports numerous progressive proposals, including the multitrillion-dollar Green New Deal. She has also called for the creation of a massive government bureaucracy that she calls the National Investment Authority. Modeled on the New Deal-era Reconstruction Finance Corporation, the National Investment Authority would coordinate the United States' longterm national economic strategy and infrastructure development.

The authority would have a congressionally approved governing board and regional offices across the country. In addition to developing roads, bridges, and other traditional infrastructure projects, the authority would fund affordable housing, public transit, and clean energy projects, as well as "climate change mitigation solutions," Omarova told Congress this year.

Omarova's policies have won her accolades from prominent progressive lawmakers and special interest groups. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) said Omarova's nomination was "tremendous news." The Sierra Club said Omarova would help the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency fight against "climate chaos" and set up "guardrails against Wall Street's risky fossil fuel investments."

Omarova did not respond to a request for comment.