Who’s Who in Biden’s Corporate Cabinet

Here are some of the establishment Democrats taking time off from their corporate jobs and think-tank appointments to become officials in the Biden administration.
  • Kimberly Ann | 
  • January 26, 2021
Photos of seven Biden cabinet nominees: Anthony Blinken, Janet Yellen, Jake Sullivan, Avril Haines, Alejandro Mayorkas, John Kerry and Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Image: The Guardian

President Biden has finally completed his dream team. After the shocking assault on the Capitol by right-wing extremists and fascist organizations, many establishment politicians, large corporations, and military officials have fallen behind the Biden-Harris administration, and many want to go “back to normal.” With Democrats in control of the House and Senate for the first time since 2008, Biden has chosen to fill his cabinet with a wide-ranging assortment of neoliberal establishment capitalists of every race, gender, and creed. 

Biden’s cabinet reflects a commitment to the corporate and imperialist interests of America, snubbing the progressive wing that funneled most of the grassroots energy and anger from the summer’s uprising into campaigning for him. He shows only a face-value commitment to the BLM protests demands: his cabinet has diversity in gender, race, and religion, but no diversity in politics. They are committed to protecting U.S. hegemony and big-business class interests. The coming days will be full of his nominees getting confirmed by the Democrat controlled House and Senate. With a corporate cabinet full of Democrat establishment rehashes from the Obama years, Biden is promising to go back to the normalcy that brought Trump to power four years ago.

We’ve created a short list highlighting what you should know about each new cabinet member. There is a lot more to say about each of these corporate shills, but we’ve compiled some of the most relevant information here.

White House Staff

  • Ron Klain, Chief of Staff
    • Served the two most recent Democratic vice presidents, Al Gore and Joe Biden, as their chief of staff.
    • Helped write and pass the 1994 Crime Bill 
    • Corporate lobbyist for the Coalition for Asbestos Resolution, which defended corporations from asbestos-exposure lawsuits. He also lobbied on behalf of drugmaker ImClone, and Fannie Mae.
    • Spent the last four years advising and counseling investment firms.
  • Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser
    • Previously worked as an adviser for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and served as her chief of staff when she was secretary of state. He was also Biden’s national security adviser when he was VP.
    • Was cited in one of Clinton’s leaked emails asking if achieving clean energy was “realistic.”
    • Worked at think tanks that support defense contractors, as well as for U.S. government intelligence and defense agencies.
    • Nonresident senior fellow for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, whose donors include Boeing, Northrop Grumman, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
    • Worked for Marco Advisory Partners, a risk-management company. There, he advised both Lyft and Uber on California Prop. 22, a major attack on workers’ rights.
  • Neera Tanden, Director of Management and Budget
    • Worked in Bill Clinton’s White House, in Hillary Clinton’s Senate office, and on both of her presidential campaigns.
    • While Tanden was CEO of the Center for American Progress, CAP suppressed a report about NYPD surveillance of Muslims because the report criticized Michael Bloomberg, who donated millions of dollars to the organization.
    • Used CAP and its publication, ThinkProgress, to malign Bernie Sanders and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, advocating for cuts and “reforms” of the already-feeble social welfare system.
    • Takes funds from Wells Fargo, Walmart, Northrop Grumman, Goldman Sachs, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, and health insurance advocacy group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).
  • Susan Rice, Director, Domestic Policy Council
    • Served under Bill Clinton in various capacities in the National Security Council, then as an ambassador to the United Nations under President Obama. During the Trump administration she joined the board of Netflix.
    • Has millions invested in fossil fuel and energy companies, including $100,000 in TransCanada, which is behind the Keystone XL pipeline; $1 million in pipeline firm Enbridge; and $2 million distributed among fossil fuel companies Cenovus and Imperial Oil.
    • Net worth with her husband was estimated to be between $23.5 million and $43.5 million.
    • An ardent supporter of Israel, who has referred to the “unbreakable bond,” the “ironclad bond,” “and the unshakable commitment” between the U.S. and Israel.
    • Supported the war in Iraq, saying that “it’s clear that Iraq poses a major threat.” She insisted that Colin Powell had “proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them.”
    • War hawk by trade, having vocally supported upholding U.S. international interests
  • John Kerry, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate
    • U.S. senator from Massachusetts for 28 years, secretary of state under Obama, and failed Democratic presidential nominee in 2004.
    • Independently wealthy, through a series of family trusts and through his marriage to Teresa Heinz, of the Heinz company fortune. Forbes magazine puts his net worth at about $250 million.
    • Despite Kerry’s criticisms of the Vietnam War, in which he served, he has supported almost every war proposed by the American government since, including the Iraq war.
    • As a presidential candidate, Kerry promised to uphold the U.S. military’s “war on terror” and spoke out against same-sex marriage.
    • Long record in government supporting fossil fuels.
    • Before holding office, led an advisory council at a bank that was behind the “biggest absolute increase in fossil financing” in the last year.
  • Jen Psaki, Press Secretary
    • An Obama communications veteran.
    • Currently a senior adviser at WestExec Advisors, which has extensive ties to the military-industrial complex.

Economic Policy

  • Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury
    • First woman chair of the Federal Reserve.
    • Proponent of free trade and multilateral treaties that overwhelmingly benefit corporations. Views China as a threat to U.S. hegemony but differs on the details of how to address the conflict.
    • Made millions in corporate speaking fees from Wall Street and large corporations such as Citi, Goldman Sachs, Google, City National Bank, UBS, Citadel LLC, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Salesforce, and more.
    • Mainstream media outlets like CNN have complimented Biden for his “genius move” in recruiting Yellen, who manages to “[thread] the needle between Democrats and Republicans … Wall Street and Main Street.”
    • Gary Cohn, a former economic adviser to President Trump and chief architect of the president’s tax cuts, voiced his approval, calling Yellen an “excellent choice.”
    • Huge proponent of free trade and multilateral treaties that overwhelmingly benefit corporations.
  • Cecilia Rouse, Chairperson, Council of Economic Advisers
    • Served on the Council of Economic Advisers under Clinton and Obama.
    • Played a key role in the 2008 big-bank bailout.
    • Focuses predominantly on the economics of education and on bridging the racial and gendered wealth gap. Most of her solutions, however, rely on Black capitalism and “girl boss” policies instead of focusing on the main barrier to equality: capitalism.
  • Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative
    • Worked in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, beginning as associate general counsel in 2007 and then becoming chief counsel for China Trade Enforcement in 2011.
    • Played a key role in negotiating trade policy in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which is a raw deal for the working class of all countries. She will now be in charge of enforcing it.
    • Tai’s selection signals escalating tensions with China. She has a long history as a critic of China.
  • Gina Raimondo, Secretary of Commerce
    • Current governor of Rhode Island.
    • Former treasurer of Rhode Island. In that role, her first act was to cut pensions, which was challenged in court by labor unions.
    • Venture capitalist who founded Point Judith Capital, which has funded “disruptive” ventures in the health care industry, attacking the idea of expanding single-payer health care.
    • Approved increases in health insurance premiums during the pandemic.
    • Granted legal immunity to nursing homes in Rhode Island for coronavirus deaths, leading to negligence and increased deaths.
    • Cut state workers’ pensions by 3 percent.
    • Supported corporate secrecy, claiming that financial firms have the right to “minimize attention” to their compensation.
    • Oversaw Rhode Island’s atrocious Department of Youth, Children, and Families, which has an unusually high death rate.
  • Isabel Guzman, Chief of Small Business Administration
    • Currently working as California’s Small Business Advocate and previously worked during Obama’s second term as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser to Administrator Karen Mills.
    • Worked for ProAmerica Bank from 2009 to 2014.
    • Founded GovContractPros, a government contractor consulting firm.

National Security

  • Antony Blinken, Secretary of State
    • Member of Clinton’s National Security Council (1994 to 2001). Served as Deputy Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
    • Entire career in foreign policy has been marked by support for U.S. military intervention, from his important role in the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia to his support for military involvement in Iraq, Syria, and Libya.
    • Was top aide to Biden when he voted to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
    • Partner in private equity firm Pine Islands Capital Partners, whose investments include aerospace and defense.
    • Cofounder and head of WestExec Advisors, which has extensive ties to the military-industrial complex.
  • Retired General Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense
    • Former commander of the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East.
    • In his own words, helped “spearhead the invasion of Iraq.”
    • Headed the training of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) — which would go on to become infamous for committing war crimes in Mosul, most notably when a unit of the ISF beat and killed naked Iraqis, including a child.
    • Oversaw U.S. forces in the Middle East. During his years in leadership, his atrocities included the razing of villages in Syria, the hospital bombing in Afghanistan, which killed 42 people, and the start of the U.S.-backed genocide of the Yemeni people led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
    • Worked on the board of Raytheon Technologies, one of the biggest weapons manufacturers and the third-largest defense contractors in the United States.
    • Serves on the board of directors for Tenet Healthcare, which has denied workers PPE during the Covid-19 crisis while taking taxpayer money.
  • Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security
    • Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) during Obama’s first term and the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security during its second term.
    • First Latino head of the DHS.
    • “Fraternal Order of Police enthusiastically endorses Mayorkas,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
    • Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California in 1989 and Chief of the Office’s General Crimes Section.
    • Supported and implemented Obama’s wide-ranging deportation policies, including a mass deportation and detention center machine.
  • Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence
    • When CIA officials were discovered to have hacked the computers of senators who were reviewing the CIA for its role in torturing political prisoners, Haines chose not to pursue any action against these officials. This choice effectively normalized CIA agents’ having access to the process designed to keep them accountable. Furthermore, when the 6,700-page document was completed, the version Haines had released had been redacted down to a mere 500 pages.
    • Helped design Obama’s drone program and is responsible for legal loopholes that make it easier to kill civilians with drone strikes.
    • Is part of WestExec Advisors, a national security think tank that advises corporations.
    • Disclosed $180,000 in consulting fees from data-mining firm Palantir.
  • Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Ambassador to the United Nations
    • Served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 2013 to 2017.
    • Had a senior role at Albright Stonebridge Group, a global business strategy firm run by Madeleine Albright.
    • Her signature phrase is that she uses “gumbo diplomacy,” meaning diplomacy with a Cajun twist.
    • Worked in the State Department to help American oil corporations make profits from and extract resources from Middle Eastern countries.

Miscellaneous

  • Merrick Garland, Attorney General
    • Served on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals for over two decades.
    • Best known as President Obama’s unsuccessful nominee for the Supreme Court in 2016.
    • Supported the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and ruled in favor of unlimited contributions to super PACs.
    • Usually sides with police against any accountability for brutality and misconduct.
    • Ruled to uphold detentions at Guantánamo Bay.
  • Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services
    • Served 12 terms in Congress as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and replaced Kamala Harris as attorney general of California in 2017.
    • Terrible record as California’s attorney general, often siding against transparency in police shootings, crimes, or misconduct, refusing to release disciplinary records and threatening reporters who obtained information on officers in question.
    • Played a major role in drafting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) while serving in the House of Representatives, a shift to the right after previously advocating for a single-payer health care system.
  • Marcia Fudge, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
    • Former mayor of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, and elected to House of Representatives in 2008. Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.
    • One of her key backers is South Carolina congressman Jim Clyburn (key backer of Biden during the primaries).
    • Supported the military budget during her time in Congress.
    • Supported authorizing use of force in Libya, sanctions on Iran, and other imperialist measures in Congress.
    • Supports an eviction moratorium but does not support the demand to #CancelRent. Instead proposes to create a bureaucratic means-tested rent relief program.
  • Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture
    • Secretary of Agriculture in the Obama administration and former governor of Iowa.
    • As secretary of agriculture, covered up decades of discrimination against Black farmers.
    • Earned the nickname Mr. Monsanto thanks to the massive profits made by corporate agriculture industry during the Obama administration.
    • USDA not only failed to pass regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act, but it also promoted a plan that essentially allows the meatpacking industry to self-regulate.
    • USDA sped up the approval process for controversial genetically modified organisms (GMO), crops that wreaked havoc on the environment.
  • Denis McDonough, Secretary of Veterans Affairs
    • Served as chief of staff under President Obama’s second term. He previously served as the deputy national security advisor from 2010 to 2013 and chief of staff for the National Security Council from 2009 to 2010.
    • Veterans are disappointed that a veteran was not appointed.
    • Key figure who supported U.S. war in Iraq.
    • Resisted release of report on CIA torture tactics.
  • Marty Walsh, Secretary of Labor
    • Former mayor of Boston and a longtime labor bureaucrat.
    • Under Walsh’s tenure as mayor, rents skyrocketed and unaffordable real estate development boomed.
    • During 2020 uprisings, allowing the police department to brutally repress protesters.
    • Reallocated $12 million of police budget to social services, far less than the 10 percent called for by activists.
    • As a union leader, was known as a pragmatic negotiator willing to compromise with developers and contractors when it was in the interests of the building trades.
    • Has a background in making deals with capitalists. His appointment has drawn no opposition from the business community.
  • Pete Buttigieg, Secretary of Transportation
    • In his run for president, strongly opposed Medicare for All, free college, and many other policies that would directly benefit the working class.
    • Consultant at McKinsey & Company, a management consulting firm notable for its connections to a number of economic and business crises, including Enron, the 2008 financial crisis, and the opioid epidemic.
    • His work at the firm may have led to mass layoffs at Blue Cross Blue Shield and prompted the firm to support layoffs at the U.S. Post Office.
    • Worked on a McKinsey contract in Afghanistan exploring how best to extract and exploit that country’s natural resources.
    • His 1,000 Homes in 1,000 Days initiative demolished many homes in Black and Latino neighborhoods.
    • Police violence and impunity continued under his watch, such as when police killed a 54-year-old Black man.
  • Jennifer Granholm, Secretary of Energy
    • Served as Michigan’s attorney general from 1999 to 2003 and then the first female governor of the state.
    • Served on the board of Dow Chemical.
    • As governor, accepted money from gas and electrical companies.
    • Is part of Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI) and American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
  • Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior
    • U.S. Representative from New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District since 2019.
    • If confirmed, will be the first Native American person in a cabinet role.
    • Served as Chair of Committee of Armed Services in the House of Representatives.
    • Supported the $740 billion defense budget by voting to override Trump’s veto, arguing it was necessary to “defend our country.”
  • Michael Regan, Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
    • Worked as an environmental regulator for the EPA during the Clinton and Bush administration from 1998 to 2008.
    • Claims to be working for environmental justice and has ties to activists. While he blocked a natural gas pipeline, he has approved other projects, such as the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
  • Miguel Cardona, Secretary of Education
    • Former public school teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and state commissioner of education in Connecticut.
    • Supported by both unions and big business.
    • As Connecticut education commissioner, encouraged school reopening during the pandemic. He resisted demands from the state teachers’ union to stay closed until mid-January.
    • A believer in “parent choice,” Cardona is wishy-washy on charter schools.
    • Promoted private investment in Connecticut schools.
  • William Burns, CIA Director
    • Former positions include the following: deputy secretary of state, under secretary of state for political affairs (under Obama), and U.S. ambassador to Russia (under Bush).
    • Among the top of the State Department through the administrations of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. That means he’s implicated in every imperialist war, coup, and imperialist sanction over the past 33 years.
    • He was chosen by Biden to “restore credibility” to the CIA and has extensive experience in negotiating deals with Russia and in peace negotiations in the Middle East.
    • Burns is “a truly inspired choice,” according to former CIA director and Iraq commander general David Petraeus.
    • To be clear: the only good CIA director is no CIA director.
  • Samantha Power, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
    • Served under Obama as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
    • Was the UN ambassador when the U.S. began its “humanitarian intervention” in Yemen and supported the Saudi invasion, which became a long-standing humanitarian crisis.
    • In the case of Syria, she opposed asking Congress to authorize them, fearing permission would be refused.
    • In the case of Libya, Power praises the United States for “[helping] orchestrate the fastest and broadest international response to an impending human rights crisis in history.”
    • According to Adam Johnson, “Samantha Power’s human rights™ brand remains untarnished despite her years of defending U.S., Israeli and Saudi war crimes at the UN. No basic historical facts can possibly undermine this brand because it’s central to her role as high-minded liberal imperialist myth-maker.”
  • Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Chair of the Office of AIDS Research Advisory Council at the National Institutes of Health from 2014 to 2015. Served as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents since 2011.
  • Dr. Vivek Murthy, Surgeon General
    • Served in the military and then became the first surgeon general of Indian descent, from 2014 to 2017.
    • Founded Doctors for America, another cog in the nonprofit industrial machine, that supports sending doctors abroad without providing sustainable infrastructure to the communities they care for in the Global South.
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Kimberly Ann

Kimberly Ann

Kimberly is an educator and writer for Left Voice

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