Joe Biden has to be careful who he appoints going forward

Joe Biden’s nominee for OMB Director withdrew, but there are still many in his administration who could face potential conflicts of interests. This factor will undermine the President’s ability to govern effectively and build confidence with the American public.

Biden’s political appointments, executive actions, and foreign policy decisions, have been a mixed bag of individuals with grassroots experience, meritocracy, but most prominently moneyed interests. Individuals like Neera Tanden, now former nominee for Office of Management and Budget Director, Anthony Bliken, the Secretary of State, and former Gen. Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defence to name a few, are prime examples. These individuals have worked as part of think tanks or were members on corporate boards of multinational firms, now in charge of regulating they very industry they worked under.

This is almost likely to produce some controversy or actual situation around possible conflicts of interest. This would only weaken people’s confidence in their political leadership, and rightly so. It’s one thing to pass policies that aren’t popular but necessary, but it’s something else completely to pass policies or make decisions that are likely to benefit a select few in the process.

Think tanks are another one example moneyed interests in politics. While they do credible research that informs policy decisions on both the left and right, they are deeply intrenched in what Donald Trump would call “The Swamp”. Regardless of where they are on the political spectrum, these organizations are funded by wealthy individuals, multinational corporations, and business people. Think tanks are staffed by former lobbyists or other politcal operatives who don’t need to disclose their former careers. Those who fund think tanks also have the power over what research they publish, and will often consult with researchers before they publish their findings.

Neera Tanden herself is President of the center-left think tank, the Center for American Progress, which has been criticized for its lack of funding transparency, to it’s relationship to the Clinton family, and much more. Lloyd Austin himself served as a member of the board of directors of military contractor Raytheon Technologies. He owned stocks worth $500,000 and received compensation with stocks included totalling $1.4 million. He also runs his own consulting firm and is a partner at Pine Island Capital which Anthony Blinken and initial pick for Defense Secretary, Michele Flournoy are affiliated with.

There are other individuals who are included in this near-inexhaustive list including Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, Gina Raimondo for Secretary of Commerce, Marty Walsh for Secretary of Labour, Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation, and Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy among many others. What I mentioned above is just a list of those in cabinet, there are many more within the White House and Federal Government.

If Biden really wants to bring “unity” and a “return to normalcy” he needs to uphold the independence of the American civil service from conflicts of interest if he wants to build public confidence in his leadership.