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Elizabeth Warren cont'd

Jon Cohn talked to some folks and came away with a generally optimistic take on Elizabeth Warren's interim nomination. Same goes for Matt Yglesias.

I'm still a bit more ambivalent. First, I mistrust decisions that can be easily spun in different ways to different audiences. Talking to the lefty blogger crowd, the administration can say that this shows the depth of their support for Warren, and in no way prevents a permanent nomination from occurring at some later date. The reality, as they've been explaining, is that the Senate isn't moving nominations right now and the Republicans are filibustering everything, so in the short-term, it was this or nothing.

And all that's true. On the other hand, it would also be easy to explain this to a member of the financial industry. The grass-roots pressure to appoint Warren was overwhelming. But this way, she's merely an adviser. She doesn't actually have the powers of the office. And after doing this, there's no way Senate Republicans will ever let her have the permanent spot. Warren's interim appointment makes the politics of a permanent appointment almost impossible.

And here's the thing: Both explanations are true! Republicans really are holding up the nomination process. In the short term, it really was this or nothing. Over the long-run, this really will make it impossible to imagine Republicans letting Warren through a confirmation process. Whether this is a good or bad outcome depends on your assessment of the counterfactuals, in which Obama either didn't appoint her at all or tried to appoint her and faced a fight he may or may not have won against the Republicans in Congress.

By Ezra Klein  |  September 16, 2010; 12:38 PM ET
 
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Comments

"In the short term, it really was this or nothing."

What about a recess appointment? I'm not sure this is possible, but wouldn't it also be an option?

This sort of scenario is almost becoming cliche: Obama is supposedly pushed into a corner, and he "must" do the thing maximally beneficial to powerful interests but merely sufficient to prevent a lefty rebellion. Then, the left fights within itself whether the ends justify the means.

If Warren doesn't have rulemaking authority, she doesn't have much. That throws the meat on the bones of the CPFB, and of implementing Fin Reg. I'm still holding out hope Obama will do this thing right ...

Posted by: Chris_ | September 16, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

No one has yet reported a single specific power that Warren will not have except the fancy title. Nor can anyone explain how this makes a Republican confirmation of Elizabeth Warren less likely, because it was simply never going to happen. As you said, it's this or nothing. Simple. End of story.

Anyway, they don't have to nominate her, they can leave her as the interim head for 6 years. If anything, doing it this way makes it more likely she can eventually be confirmed by the Senate, since that would require 60 votes from D's or reasonable R's, and the best way to get that many good Senators elected in 2012 is to have Warren out there in public ASAP doing her thing.

This is Obama's shining moment.

Posted by: michaelh81 | September 16, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

It's bad public policy for a president to circumvent the confirmation process by slapping "interim" or "acting" on someone's title and letting them do the job, but the Senate isn't leaving Obama much choice.

Posted by: Porchland | September 16, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to say that this move looks like Obama is trying to get her out of the way while mollifying his base. From what I've read this position doesn't have any teeth and she'd report to treasury (as well as Obama). This basically sucks.

Posted by: campari99 | September 16, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

"No one has yet reported a single specific power that Warren will not have except the fancy title."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rulemaking

Posted by: Chris_ | September 16, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

it's not this or nothing . . . what about a recess appointment?

Posted by: davitivan | September 16, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

it's not this or nothing . . . why couldn't the administration do a recess appointment?

Posted by: davitivan | September 16, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Some questions:

If it is completely toothless, why would Warren take the job?

Given the appalling refusal of Republicans to allow the Senate to take up Obama's appointments, isn't it time to do away with the unwritten agreement that people hanging in limbo waiting to be approved can't speak out about the jobs they are supposed to do? Can that and see if it changes the process, at least for the high profile nominees. I don't know which way it would work, but transparency would help, as usual.

Posted by: janinsanfran | September 16, 2010 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't a recess appointment expire at the end of this Congress, i.e. in January 2011, while this lasts longer?

Posted by: Mimikatz | September 16, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Chris, thanks for the Wiki link, but how about a link to how that's relevant to Elizabeth Warren?

Posted by: michaelh81 | September 16, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Mimikatz - bingo! Obama's a pretty smart fellow, he's thought this through.

Posted by: michaelh81 | September 16, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Janinsanfran - bingo part 2! Warren is that rare person who if she was willing to accept this job, we know all we need to about the extent of its powers. She'd sooner switch her registration back to Republican than take a toothless job.

Posted by: michaelh81 | September 16, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

She has no power.

She reports to Geithner.

I'm not the least bit ambivalent.

This totally sucks and is just more item in an endless list of Obama's cowardice.

Posted by: solsticebelle | September 16, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"If it is completely toothless, why would Warren take the job? "

She hasn't caught on yet to what a two-faced double-talking fraud Obama truly is.

That is my guess.

Posted by: solsticebelle | September 16, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

She also asked for a dual role reporting directly to Obama, and she's shown no hesitation to spurn Geithner when necessary, even during the time she was essentially angling for this job.

I'm not saying it's the perfect solution (that would require a Senate willing to confirm a reasonable nominee), but given the situation, do you have any better ideas, Solsticebelle?

Posted by: michaelh81 | September 16, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

The Professional Left actively looks for reasons to be disappointed in Obama.

Because, as one firebagger commenter put it at DailyKos, we all know a President John Edwards would've appointed Warren to head the agency on 1/21/2009.

Posted by: lol-lol | September 16, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Okay, it's difficult to find an article addressing the importance of rulemaking in an executive agency which also addresses Warren.

But, that's not to say the power's not really, really important. Check out all this rulemaking goodness:

http://www.cfslbulletin.com/2010/08/articles/consumer-financial-protection-4/cfpa-qa-describe-the-bureaus-rulemaking-authority/

and on top of that power, she'd have:

http://www.cfslbulletin.com/2010/09/articles/consumer-financial-protection-4/enforcement-of-the-new-consumer-financial-protection-act/#more

I understand that it's difficult to nominate and that's not what I'm talking about. I'm merely saying that being an "advisor" is far different than having the powers described above, and that should be important to people.

Posted by: Chris_ | September 16, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

status quo manipulation using the marking of time as a means to an end ... nothing new as a way of not doing.
but ... responding to crazy behavior with crazy behavior is not going to work either ... in getting the IMF plugins into our government out and folks in (Warren, Barofsky, and william k black) to implement change and hold folks accountable for what has transpired ...
tic toc marking time ... aint that sweet.

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | September 16, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I tend to lean towards the explanation that this should be viewed positively by the progressive base. If it wasn't, why are the Republicans so piqued by it? Are they just playing along with Obama pretending they're mad, when they really know they won the fight? I find that hard to believe, since it would actually behoove them to say they won and this is another reason why Obama's base shouldn't trust him.

It is however distressing that our President can't just nominate qualified candidates. Our Senate (and these pompous/arrogant/self-righteous Senators) needs an overhaul.

Posted by: nonfictiondad | September 16, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

"Ezra, I tend to lean towards the explanation that this should be viewed positively by the progressive base. If it wasn't, why are the Republicans so piqued by it?"

Well, yeah there's a political battle -- which still matters a lot -- and then there's the *actual* winners and losers. I think it's more nuanced than judging something by whatever party gets behind something, and the existence of the [obligatory] opposition by the other party.

The political battles can matter (what politicians will be defeated, how far certain policies go toward going the right thing) but the policies pushed can leave a lot to be desired (no public option, Warren as an "advisor," etc).

If one party is always going to be mad at any of the other party's "wins," then judging a policies' goodness just because there's opposition doesn't make much sense. The agency is awesome, it's awesome Warren's involved, but -- apart from the totally predictable political battles -- it would've been *super awesome* to have her have actual power.

Posted by: Chris_ | September 16, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

"She has no power.
She reports to Geithner.

I'm not the least bit ambivalent.

This totally sucks and is just more item in an endless list of Obama's cowardice."

posted by solsticebelle

Yup. Had Obama's concern been the Republicans, he could have made a recess appointment. But Dodd and Turbotax Timmy and their Wall Street sugar daddies couldn't stand the heat.

Posted by: bgmma50 | September 16, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

All doubters: head to HuffPo. You're all wrong.

Posted by: michaelh81 | September 16, 2010 8:55 PM | Report abuse

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