U.S. Politics – December 5, 2020
By: Nathaniel Ballantyne
An obscure figure just a few months ago, JEFF HAUSER has now become the media’s go-to left-wing critic of the incoming Biden administration.
The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Associated Press, POLITICO and more have each quoted him prominently in several articles in the past month or so. He’s gone international, too, with his quotes featured in The Guardian, The Independent, Channel NewsAsia, Chile’s Diario Financiero, and even Vietnam’s “Viet Giai Tri.”
As the executive director of the Revolving Door Project, which is housed in the left-leaning think tank Center for Economic and Policy Research, Hauser often takes aim at senior Biden aides with corporate ties or those who have lobbied in the past — even if it was years ago. His willingness to criticize potential Biden Cabinet picks on the record has helped reporters write stories on at least some of the left’s frustration with Biden before and after he won the presidency.
The problem Biden has is, he views people he got to know before they were lobbyists as still not lobbyists,” Hauser told The Wall Street Journal last month. “Being close friends does not make you better adept at figuring out people’s motives. Past work tends to be more predictive of that.”
Democrats in and around the transition have grown frustrated by the endless purity tests they see HAUSER pushing and believe he’s further dividing the party at a precarious moment.
“While Democrats spent the past four years organizing to beat Donald Trump, Jeff was instead out there doing opposition research on potential Democratic appointees for a then-fictitious administration,” said one Democratic operative in touch with the Biden transition team.
“Reporters should work harder to determine whether he’s representing a movement or just representing himself.”
Some also suggest that Hauser doesn’t pass his own test, noting that he briefly worked as a lobbyist for an immigration rights group in 2007, as part of a push to help pass the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill. That bill, which ultimately failed, also included more funds for border security and fencing, positions the left-wing has grown critical of and criticized Biden for. “I was an insignificant player in trying to get immigration reform done in 2007,” Hauser said.
“ I think it’s fascinating that a Democrat would compare lobbying for immigration reform and corporate lobbying and view them as essentially the same thing.” (Hauser in November did try to distinguish the two forms of lobbying. “We don’t think lobbying is bad, we think corporate lobbying is bad,” he told Roll Call.)
Hauser also defended his critiques of the Biden transition: “If people in Washington think I’m unique in finding business-as-usual in Washington gross, I think they are pretty disconnected from political reality,” he said.
And he said the Biden team has not reached out to him in response to his constant missives, but it wouldn’t matter to him if they did: “This is what we are designed to do. I’m not looking for access. I’m not looking for a job.” The Biden team declined to comment.