A new report from a leading progressive advocacy group reveals a majority of Americans regardless of partisan affiliation don’t want President-elect Joe Biden to appoint corporate executives, consultants, or lobbyists to his Cabinet and administration.
“In a polarized political environment, Biden has a rare opportunity to bridge the partisan divide by excluding corporate lobbyists and executives from his administration in favor of individuals committed to advancing the interests of working families.”
While preparing its report—entitled Americans Want a Progressive Biden Administration (pdf)—Demand Progress surveyed 1,075 likely voters chosen from a representative sample of Americans based on age, gender, race, education, and voting history.
“As the Biden administration takes shape, the Beltway insider consensus is that the path to achieving bipartisanship runs through installing corporate-friendly officials in key posts,” said David Segal, the progressive Rhode Island politician who in 2010 founded Demand Progress with the late hacktivist Aaron Swartz.
“But our polling shows what is common sense outside of the Beltway,” Segal added. “The D.C. insiders are dead wrong. People across party lines want an administration that is run by people who care about the public interest—not by corporate executives, lobbyists, and consultants.”
Key findings from the polling include:
- 56% of respondents across party lines opposed appointing senior corporate alumni to key positions in the administration.
- 57% would see Biden less favorably if he hired many corporate executives and lobbyists into his administration, while only 22% would see him more favorably.
- 67% indicated that they agreed the revolving door between government and the private sector is “corrupt and dangerous.”
- 76% think it would be a “very” or “somewhat” big problem for an official to oversee an industry for which they had previously lobbied.
- 77% of Americans say Wall Street executives have too much influence over policy.
When it came to potential nominees, survey respondents expressed the strongest support for Cabinet candidates who advocate progressive policies, including Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for interior secretary and Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.) for transportation or housing and urban development secretary, although the latter was selected for neither post.
Conversely, those polled were most opposed to blatantly corporatist candidates such as BlackRock’s billionaire CEO Larry Fink, BlackRock executive Brian Deese, U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbyist Mark Gitenstein, and former Big Pharma lobbyist Steve Ricchetti.
“There’s little doubt that Biden eschewing corporate lobbyists and executives from his administration would stand to shore up his base of support,” Segal said. “In fact, closing the revolving door between the private sector and government office would allow him to make inroads with the people who didn’t vote for him, too.”
“In a polarized political environment, Biden has a rare opportunity to bridge the partisan divide by excluding corporate lobbyists and executives from his administration in favor of individuals committed to advancing the interests of working families,” Segal concluded.
Demand Progress and Revolving Door Project have been spearheading a “No Corporate Cabinet” initiative in partnership with Climate Investigations Center, Documented, and True North Research since November. The campaign includes a website that aims to “serve as a central hub for information about, and activism related to, the Biden transition,” featuring news and a “Persons of Interest” page detailing some potential Biden administration appointees whom progressive campaigners say he should avoid.
Other leading progressives have been imploring Biden to fill his remaining cabinet picks with leaders who will prioritize human need over corporate greed.
On Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was a guest on The Intercept’s Intercepted podcast and warned listeners that doing otherwise—as Democratic presidents have done since at least the Clinton administration—is “a huge reason why we got [President] Donald Trump in the first place.”
Many progressive critics say Biden isn’t hearing their message. They point to his transition team’s hiring of corporate executives including Goldman Sachs veterans Monica Maher and Eric Goldstein, and former McKinsey and current Cove Hill Partners manager Josh Zoffer, as well as senior officials at tech titans Amazon, Facebook, Google, Uber, and Airbnb, as cause for alarm.
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