Person

Neera Tanden

Neera Tanden President of Center for American Progress (CAP) (link)
Nationality:

American

Born:

September 10, 1970

Occupation:

President, Center for American Progress (CAP)

Former Adviser to Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign

Main Residence:

Washington, D.C.

Neera Tanden is a long-time confidante of the Clinton political family and a former Obama administration aide who has served since 2011 as president and CEO of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a left-of-center think tank cofounded by Democratic Party fixer John Podesta.

Neera Tanden was born in Bedford, Massachusetts to immigrant parents from India. At the age of 5, her parents divorced, leaving her mother to raise Tanden and her brother alone. She received her undergraduate degree at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), followed by a law degree from Yale. While at UCLA, she met her now husband, an artist named Ben Edwards, while she was involved with the presidential campaign of Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis. She and her husband have two children.[1]

Early Career

After Tanden joined then-President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996, she served as a White House aide to President Clinton and as a top staffer in Hillary Clinton’s Senate office. She later served as policy director for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign.[2] Following Hillary’s 2008 Democratic primary defeat, Tanden worked as director of domestic policy for the Obama campaign and was reportedly the highest-ranking person on the Clinton’s campaign to go to the Obama administration. [3] In the administration she worked as a senior advisor to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and was credited as a “key architect” of Obamacare. [4]

In November 2011, Tanden left the Obama administration and took over as President of the Center for American Progress, a left-wing think tank. [5] Under Tanden, CAP has pushed a number of liberal prerogatives, including tax increases, legal status for large groups of illegal immigrants, controversial environmentalist policies.[6]

In 2016, Tanden was an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign[7] and was named one of one of four co-chairs for the abortive Clinton transition team.[8] As a result, CAP was labeled “Hillary Clinton’s government-in-waiting.” [9] In October 2016, Tanden said, “I would do whatever Hillary needs always. I owe her a lot. And I’m a loyal soldier.”[10]

After Clinton was defeated by Republican candidate Donald Trump, Tanden committed the Center for American Progress’ resources to rapidly and forcefully “resisting” the new administration.[11]

Ties to the Clinton Family

Neera Tanden’s career has largely been defined by her relationship with the Clinton political family.[12]

Politico has described Tanden as a “longtime Clinton confidante,”[13] while Vox labeled her “one of the more liberal members of Clintonland.”[14] Tanden, Politico wrote, “has spent the better part of two decades at Clinton’s side — first as a White House aide, then as a top staffer in her Senate office, later as policy director of the 2008 campaign.” [15] In fact, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton threw Tanden a wedding shower at the White House. [16]

In October 2016, Tanden said, “I would do whatever Hillary needs always. I owe her a lot. And I’m a loyal soldier.”[17]

Following her time in the Clinton White House, Tanden worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2000 U.S. Senate campaign as a deputy campaign manager and issues director before working as a legislative director in her Washington, D.C. office.[18] During Hillary’s 2008 presidential campaign, Tanden served as Hillary’s policy director during the Democratic primaries. [19]

Obama Administration

Following Hillary’s 2008 Democratic primary defeat, Tanden joined the Obama-Biden campaign as its director of domestic policy. [20] Tanden claims that she was the highest-ranking person on the Hillary campaign to serve in the Obama administration.[21]

She was a senior adviser for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services[22] and has been described as a “key architect” of Obamacare. [23]

Post-Obama Activism

The Center for American Progress

In November 2011,[24] Tanden left the Barack Obama administration and replaced John Podesta, formerly White House Chief of Staff under Bill Clinton and later Counselor to the President in the Obama White House and chair of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign, as president and CEO of the liberal think tank Center for American Progress.[25] In 2015, Tanden also took over control of the Center’s lobbying arm, the Center for American Progress Action Fund.[26]

She also later claimed that her goal was to shift the national political conversation in a liberal direction.[27] As she put it, “our goal has always been to have a pan-progressive tent.”[28]

Under Tanden, the CAP and its action fund have supported a number of left-wing policies. In 2012, the Center proposed a $1.8 trillion tax increase plan that included a tax rate hike, called for government-funded preschool months before President Obama included the same demand in his 2013 State of the Union address, and has fought for legalization of the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.[29]

Tanden also took credit for encouraging President Barack Obama to implement various liberal policies on immigration, energy and the environment, and labor mandates through presidential executive order instead of congressional legislation. She later said President Obama did “most of what we [CAP] asked.”[30]

2016 Presidential Campaign

Tanden was an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, providing political advice in a private capacity while her think tank provided intellectual backing and advocacy support to the Clinton campaign’s policy efforts.[31][32]

Due to both Tanden and Podesta’s large roles with the Clinton campaign, the Washington Post wrote that the Center For American progress, “is poised to exert outsized influence over the 2016 president race and — should Hillary Clinton win it — the policies and agenda of the 45th President of the United States.” [33]

Similarly, after Tanden was named one of one of four co-chairs for the Clinton transition team Politico wrote the Center For American Progress was “Hillary Clinton’s government-in-waiting.” The article noted that through this organization Tanden would be able to serve Clinton’s interests once again as a powerful outside adviser who would play a central role in a Presidential transition.[34]

Controversies

Email Controversy

In 2016, many of Tanden’s emails to cohort John Podesta were leaked by Wikileaks, an entity believed to be associated with foreign intelligence services.[35] In a late 2016 summary of her email correspondence the liberal blog the New Republic said that the contents of those emails demonstrated “a pattern of freezing out those who don’t toe the line, a disturbing predilection for someone who is a kind of gatekeeper for what ideas are acceptable in Democratic politics.”[36]

Moreover, The New Republic’s report claimed that the emails revealed that Tanden’s work as a surrogate for the Clinton campaign went beyond her appearances on television. The report indicated she was actively working to conserve the Clinton campaign’s political capital, rather than pushing it to spend it on policies that liberals would expect a think tank like CAP to support. [37]

Additionally, the language that Tanden used in the emails against people she disagreed with became a point of controversy. The New York Times described Tanden’s emails as “profanity-laced” and fiercely protective of Hillary Clinton.[38]

In one 2015 email to Podesta, Tanden suggested that the person responsible for allowing Clinton’s State Department correspondence to be conducted over a private email server should be “drawn and quartered.” [39]

Anti-Trump Activism

After the 2016 election, Tanden announced that she was committing CAP and CAP Action resources to rapidly and forcefully “resisting” the newly elected president Donald Trump.[40]

She issued statements opposing a number of President Trump’s policy decisions, opposing Trump administration proposals to construct a barrier on the Mexico-United States border,[41] opposing Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare,[42] proclaiming that President Trump’s Cabinet are “bad people,”[43] and labeling the 2017 tax cut a “tax scam.”[44]

Incendiary Comments

Tanden has a long history of making profane and controversial comments.

During the 2017 wildfires in southern California, New York Magazine’s David Wallace-Wells tweeted, “NBC News in LA is reporting that the wildfires are now burning down [News Corporation executive chairman] Rupert Murdoch’s house,” to which Tanden replied, “There’s a God, and she’s unhappy,” describing the fire as an act of “karma.” Tanden later deleted the tweet, saying “it wasn’t funny.”[45]

In a piece for the Huffington Post in 2016 entitled, “Donald Trump Doesn’t Deserve the Support of American Hindus” she questioned an Indian-American businessman’s support for Republican candidate Donald Trump and suggested because of his race, he should not support the candidate of his choosing.[46]

References

  1. Wadler, Joyce. “Public Lives; The Wonk, er, Woman Behind Mrs. Clinton.” New York Times, October 4, 2000. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/04/nyregion/public-lives-the-wonk-er-woman-behind-mrs-clinton.html
  2. Thrush, Glenn. “Meet Hillary Clinton’s anger translator.” Politico, August 29, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/neera-tanden-2016-election-227494
  3. O’Donnell, Paul.” Neera Tanden Explains the One Big Difference Between the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ Civil Wars.” Washingtonian Magazine, June 2, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/06/02/neera-tanden-explains-one-big-difference-democrats-republicans-civil-wars/
  4. Berman, Russell. “The Clinton Transition Team Takes Shape.” The Atlantic, August 16, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/the-clinton-transition-team-takes-shape/496034/
  5. Smith, Ben. “Podesta to step down at CAP.” Politico. October 24, 2011. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2011/10/podesta-to-step-down-at-cap-066742
  6. O’Donnell, Paul.” Neera Tanden Explains the One Big Difference Between the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ Civil Wars.” Washingtonian Magazine, June 2, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/06/02/neera-tanden-explains-one-big-difference-democrats-republicans-civil-wars/
  7. Chang, Clio and Shephard, Alex. “How Neera Tanden Works.” The New Republic, October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017.  https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  8. Shephard, Alex and Chang, Clio. “How Neera Tanden Works .” The New Republic. October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  9. Thrush, Glenn. “Meet Hillary Clinton’s anger translator.” Politico, August 29, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/neera-tanden-2016-election-227494
  10. Chang, Clio and Shephard, Alex. “How Neera Tanden Works.” The New Republic, October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017.  https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  11. Lopez, Beatriz. “STATEMENT: CAP Action’s Neera Tanden Announces Launch of New Campaign to Resist Donald Trump.” Center For American Progress. December 15, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogressaction.org/press/statement/2016/12/15/164906/statement-cap-actions-neera-tanden-announces-launch-of-new-campaign-to-resist-donald-trump/
  12. Shephard, Alex and Chang, Clio. “How Neera Tanden Works .” The New Republic. October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  13. Thrush, Glenn. “Meet Hillary Clinton’s anger translator.” Politico, August 29, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/neera-tanden-2016-election-227494
  14. Yglesias, Matthew. “Bruenighazi: how a feisty Bernie blogger’s firing explains Democratic politics in 2016.” Vox, May 21, 2016. Accessed December 29, 2017. https://www.vox.com/2016/5/21/11724298/bruenighazi-matt-bruenig-neera-tanden-demos
  15. Thrush, Glenn. “Meet Hillary Clinton’s anger translator.” Politico, August 29, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/neera-tanden-2016-election-227494
  16. Wadler, Joyce. “Public Lives; The Wonk, er, Woman Behind Mrs. Clinton.” New York Times, October 4, 2000. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/04/nyregion/public-lives-the-wonk-er-woman-behind-mrs-clinton.html
  17. Chang, Clio and Shephard, Alex. “How Neera Tanden Works.” The New Republic, October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017.  https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  18. Wadler, Joyce. “Public Lives; The Wonk, er, Woman Behind Mrs. Clinton.” New York Times, October 4, 2000. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/10/04/nyregion/public-lives-the-wonk-er-woman-behind-mrs-clinton.html
  19. Neera Tanden official biography, Center for American Progress website. Undated. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/about/staff/tanden-neera/bio/
  20. Neera Tanden official biography, Center for American Progress website. Undated. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/about/staff/tanden-neera/bio/
  21. O’Donnell, Paul.” Neera Tanden Explains the One Big Difference Between the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ Civil Wars.” Washingtonian Magazine, June 2, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/06/02/neera-tanden-explains-one-big-difference-democrats-republicans-civil-wars/
  22. Neera Tanden official biography, Center for American Progress website. Undated. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/about/staff/tanden-neera/bio/
  23. Berman, Russell. “The Clinton Transition Team Takes Shape.” The Atlantic, August 16, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/08/the-clinton-transition-team-takes-shape/496034/
  24. Neera Tanden Linkedin Profile. Linkedin.com. Undated. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.linkedin.com/in/neera-tanden-614b9318/
  25. Smith, Ben. “Podesta to step down at CAP.” Politico. October 24, 2011. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2011/10/podesta-to-step-down-at-cap-066742
  26. Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax: Center for American Progress Action Fund. Pro Publica. 2015. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/300192708
  27. O’Donnell, Paul.” Neera Tanden Explains the One Big Difference Between the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ Civil Wars.” Washingtonian Magazine, June 2, 2016.  Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/06/02/neera-tanden-explains-one-big-difference-democrats-republicans-civil-wars/
  28. Shephard, Alex and Chang, Clio. “How Neera Tanden Works .” The New Republic. October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  29. “Making Progress: 10 Years Of Ideas, Action And Change.” Center For American Progress. 2013. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/AnniversaryReports.pdf
  30. O’Donnell, Paul.” Neera Tanden Explains the One Big Difference Between the Democrats’ and the Republicans’ Civil Wars.” Washingtonian Magazine, June 2, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonian.com/2016/06/02/neera-tanden-explains-one-big-difference-democrats-republicans-civil-wars/
  31. Chang, Clio and Shephard, Alex. “How Neera Tanden Works.” The New Republic, October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017.  https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  32. Matea Gold, Abby Phillip and John Wagner, “Hacked emails show how liberal group back-channeled advice to Clinton.” Washington Post, October 15, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/hacked-emails-show-how-advocates-at-liberal-group-back-channeled-advice-to-clinton/2016/10/15/c2da85e6-923f-11e6-9c85-ac42097b8cc0_story.html?utm_term=.c55827335955
  33. “Center for American Progress, poised to wield influence over 2016, reveals its top donors.” The Washington Post. January 21, 2015. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2015/01/21/center-for-american-progress-poised-to-wield-influence-over-2016-reveals-its-top-donors/?utm_term=.a19316fa73f3
  34. Thrush, Glenn. “Meet Hillary Clinton’s anger translator.” Politico, August 29, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/neera-tanden-2016-election-227494
  35. Confessore, Nicholas and Eder, Steve. “WikiLeaks Lays Bare a Clinton Insider’s Emphatic Cheers and Jeers.” New York Times, October 29, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/us/politics/neera-tanden-wikileaks.html?_r=0
  36. Shephard, Alex and Chang, Clio. “How Neera Tanden Works .” The New Republic. October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  37. Shephard, Alex and Chang, Clio. “How Neera Tanden Works .” The New Republic. October 28, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://newrepublic.com/article/138212/neera-tanden-works
  38. Confessore, Nicholas and Eder, Steve. “WikiLeaks Lays Bare a Clinton Insider’s Emphatic Cheers and Jeers.” New York Times, October 29, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/us/politics/neera-tanden-wikileaks.html?_r=0
  39. Confessore, Nicholas and Eder, Steve. “WikiLeaks Lays Bare a Clinton Insider’s Emphatic Cheers and Jeers.” New York Times, October 29, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/30/us/politics/neera-tanden-wikileaks.html?_r=0
  40. Lopez, Beatriz. “STATEMENT: CAP Action’s Neera Tanden Announces Launch of New Campaign to Resist Donald Trump.” Center For American Progress. December 15, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogressaction.org/press/statement/2016/12/15/164906/statement-cap-actions-neera-tanden-announces-launch-of-new-campaign-to-resist-donald-trump/
  41. Lopez, Beatriz. “Statement: President Trump’s Immigration Executive Orders Declare Open Season on Communities of Color and Make America Less Safe.” Center For American Progress. January 25, 2017. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/press/release/2017/01/25/297368/statement-president-trumps-immigration-executive-orders-declare-open-season-on-communities-of-color-and-make-america-less-safe/
  42. Kearns, Devon. “STATEMENT: Neera Tanden on Latest Failure of ACA Repeal Effort.” Center For American Progress. September 26, 2017. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/press/statement/2017/09/26/439705/statement-neera-tanden-latest-failure-aca-repeal-effort/
  43. “Neera Tanden: Trump’s Cabinet Nominees Are ‘Bad People.’” Youtube.com. December 12, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E5W_xoK14w
  44. Preiss, Allison. “STATEMENT: CAP’s Neera Tanden: Congressional GOP Tax Scam One of the Most Immoral, Venal Pieces of Legislation I Have Ever Seen.” Center For American Progress. December 19, 2017. Accessed December 22, 2017. https://www.americanprogress.org/press/statement/2017/12/19/444331/statement-caps-neera-tanden-congressional-gop-tax-scam-one-immoral-venal-pieces-legislation/
  45. Lim, Naomi. “Clinton and Obama campaign alum Neera Tanden on Rupert Murdoch’s home burning down: ‘There’s a God. And she’s unhappy.’” Washington Examiner, December 6, 2017. Accessed December 22, 2017. http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/clinton-and-obama-campaign-alum-neera-tanden-on-rupert-murdochs-home-burning-down-theres-a-god-and-shes-unhappy/article/2642725
  46. Tanden, Neera. “Donald Trump Doesn’t Deserve The Support Of American Hindus.” The Huffington Post, September 22, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2017.   https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-doesnt-deserve-the-support-of-american-hindus_us_57e3f4a9e4b0e28b2b529232
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