Saule Omarova Is A Dangerous Choice For Arizona’s Local Economy

Saule Omarova

Arizona is a state known for its breathtaking landscapes and unique communities that give that small town feel. Our communities are supported by our local banks who know their neighbors by name, supporting their business ventures or helping them grow their banking portfolio. But this personalized care by Arizona’s local and community banks is now being threatened by President Biden’s pick for Comptroller of the Currency, Saule Omarova, a Cornell University Law professor. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is an obscure government position to many of us, but one that has enormous implications for how Arizonians—and all Americans—bank.

The OCC is a bureau within the Department of the Treasury whose primary job is to make sure we have a safe and sound banking system for all Americans. Yet Omarova is a big opponent of banks as we know them. In fact, she as Comptroller of the Currency would be dangerous to how Arizonans secure their money and bank in general—Omarova doesn’t seem to understand the role she would undertake when she has advocated for very radical changes in our financial system.

The biggest threat posed by Omarova is her idea to create a Federal Reserve monopoly on all banking deposits by discouraging regular citizens from making deposits and withdrawals from our own banks and credit unions. While her efforts target the largest of banks in the nation, this will also affect our local and community financial institutions as well. This measure would “replace commercial bank reserve accounts with universally available deposit accounts.” The implications of this are very dangerous, undercutting the efficacy of local banks and their ability to provide loans to and protect deposits for community members.

In Arizona, we pride ourselves on our small businesses and an entrepreneurial spirit that drives new innovations and puts money into our local economy. The backbone of this is our local banks who know their community members and the climate of the region, so they can provide the best loan options, financing plans, and general advice to their friends and neighbors. Arizonians can’t let Omarova change the way they bank, because it would be detrimental to our communities here..

Representative Alma Hernandez (D) was elected to represent Arizona’s 13th district in November 2018. After election, Hernandez became a sitting member of the Federal Relations Committee and the Health & Human Services Committee, as well as the Criminal Justice Reform Committee.

Omarova’s overhaul of the system also includes the manipulation and control of the price of stocks, through the creation of a government-run National Investment Authority. She would have the Federal Reserve, if mortgage-backed securities or technology companies’ rise in their market rate, move “into trades specifically designed to put downward pressure on their prices.” This is not how a free-market economy works: it is disruptive of the natural ebb and flow of the markets and could result in squashing the prices of stocks in which our pensions, retirement funds, and business savings are invested.

The supervisor role of Comptroller is advisory, but it wields a lot of power: Omarova would be able to act unilaterally in this position. Whoever sits in as Comptroller of the Currency should be someone with a sound head for regulation and consumer protection mission of the bureau—not someone who hates the very institutions she is there to protect. Her ideas of central control on capital, credit and wages are far too centralized for the likes of many, except the most progressive within the Democratic party. This would result in a vast overreach of the role.

I call on my fellow community members, to urge our Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) to vote against the nomination of Omarova because she will be dangerous for the Arizona economy and our local livelihoods.