Consumer advocates, labor unions, liberal groups, scores of Democratic lawmakers, even the National Organization for Women, have urged President Obama to nominate Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren as director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
On Wednesday, Warren got a little love from the GOP side of the aisle, if not an outright endorsement for the job.
The two Republican appointees to the Congressional Oversight Panel, the group chaired by Warren that oversees the government's $700 billion bank bailout program, issued a statement saying that while they disagreed with many of Warren's views and opposed the creation of the consumer watchdog, they had found their dealings with her "to be collegial and professional."
The pair praised Warren for conducting exhaustive investigations into the federal government's rescue of firms such as American International Group and GMAC, even when those reviews produced results that didn't always shine a glowing light on the Treasury Department.
"It is important to note that the panel has been critical of policies and decisions implemented by Democrats and Republicans alike," wrote University of Kentucky economics Professor Kenneth Troske and J. Mark McWatters, a Dallas lawyer and certified public accountant, who serve on the five-member panel. "There is great virtue in that because, while it is easy to question the decisions made by members of the other political party, it takes courage to publicly question the decisions made by members of your own party."
They added, "We often debate a wide variety of issues with Professor Warren and have found her quite willing to modify her views if presented with well-reasoned, cogent arguments."
It's up to the White House whether to appoint an industry shill or a watchdog like Elizabeth Warren.
Washington insider publication The Hill reports that the White House is sending signals of support for Elizabeth Warren and that she is confirmable. The Hill:
The White House on Monday gave the strongest signal yet that it may pick Elizabeth Warren to head a new consumer bureau created by the Wall Street reform bill.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday said Warren is “very confirmable” for a position in charge of the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).
Gibbs dismissed criticism that Warren — the chairwoman of a congressional panel overseeing the 2008 Wall Street bailout — is not well-qualified to run the bureau, which was created by the Wall Street overhaul bill President Obama signed last week.
“I think Elizabeth Warren is a terrific candidate,” Gibbs said at his daily press briefing. “And I think she’s very confirmable for this job.”
Our pressure is working:
The White House is under heavy pressure from the left to nominate Warren. Liberal activists and a number of Democrats in Congress believe putting her in charge of the new office would give it real authority in fighting excesses and abuses in the financial services industry.
Keep it up. We need a watchdog, not a shill heading up the CFPA.
President Obama should nominate Elizabeth Warren to head the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, and not only because of her credentials . . .
The banks don’t oppose Ms. Warren because she doesn’t get it. They oppose her because she does.
The Boston Globe chimes in with a powerful editorial.
ONE OBVIOUS reason President Obama should pick Elizabeth Warren to lead the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is that the new agency was her idea to begin with. Created as a unit of the Federal Reserve by the recent financial-reform bill, the agency will have the ability to set rules for credit cards, loans, and other financial “products’’ that banks and similar institutions offer to consumers. It needs a leader who has a passion for protecting consumer interests — and who recognizes that doing so contributes to the health of the financial system. Warren is easily the best candidate for the position.
Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, has conducted extensive research on bankruptcy, predatory lending, and other consumer-finance issues. Throughout her tenure as head of a panel appointed by Congress to provide oversight of the federal bailout funds, Warren has sought to connect the machinations of the financial system with the struggles of average families. She raised early alarms about subprime mortgages, and her work casts light on how a deliberate obscurity in the terms of credit cards and mortgages contributed to an unsustainable growth of consumer debt.
Her activism over the years has contributed to fears on Wall Street that the consumer-protection agency she inspired will create a vast new regulatory burden. And to be sure, the regulatory system shouldn’t discourage financial innovations that promote greater efficiency and transparency. Yet the subprime loans and sneaky fees that proliferated before the 2008 economic meltdown had precisely the opposite effect. If the fate of the modern financial firm depends on its ability to enmesh consumers in transactions that ill serve their interests, those consumers are in danger — but so is Wall Street and the economy as a whole.
The choice is clear. Wall Street opposes Warren. Do you stand with them?
We need Elizabeth Warren. David Weidner makes the case in the Wall Street Journal:
There really is no other choice. Ms. Warren, a Harvard Law School Professor who has been chairing the House Oversight Committee minding TARP's progress has been the CPFA's biggest proponent since she floated the idea in 2007. Giving the job to someone else would be like letting Steve Jobs come up with the iPad and then giving it to Microsoft Corp. to market. You'd almost certainly lose the soul.
Ms. Warren has spent the last few years of her career preparing for this moment. She's written about the devastating effects of bankruptcy on U.S. households and has given countless interviews. Consumer protection as a part of financial reform has been her single biggest legacy in Washington, save perhaps for her testy public exchanges about TARP with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
Wouldn't you know it, that sometimes confrontational relationship has led to speculation that Mr. Geithner was lobbying against Ms. Warren behind the scenes. It's a charge the Treasury Department denies, but not out of the realm of possibility, given Mr. Geithner's public scrapes with her about TARP and his likely support of Michael S. Barr, assistant Treasury Secretary, who is reportedly on the short list.
Even with Mr. Geithner's support or his ambivalence, Ms. Warren seems to have worn out her Washington welcome. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dodd (D.,-Conn.) on Monday openly wondered whether Ms. Warren would get enough votes for confirmation should she be nominated. "The question is, 'Is she confirmable?'" Sen. Dodd told NPR's Diane Rehm show. "And there's a serious question about it."
Edward Yingling, chief executive of the American Bankers Association, said there's "tremendous concern" in the industry over Ms. Warren's possible nomination. State banking groups in Virginia and Nebraska have vocally opposed her nomination. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent millions on an ad campaign against the protection agency.
Good. We don't need an financial industry shill regulating the financial industry. We need a real independent watchdog. There's no better choice than Elizabeth Warren.