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Elizabeth Warren's latest buzz: Maybe 'interim director' of consumer bureau

By Brady Dennis

Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren set the political blogosphere abuzz once again Monday, this time with speculation that the White House might appoint her as an "interim director" of the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, in order to avoid a messy Senate confirmation battle.

In truth, placing Warren at Treasury and allowing her to oversee the creation of the new watchdog agency has been an option that administration officials have weighed for weeks, as pressure has continued to mount from liberal groups to nominate her as the bureau's inaugural director. The Treasury secretary has interim authority, under the far-reaching financial overhaul bill recently signed into law, to set up the new regulator. Putting Warren in charge of that effort would, at least temporarily, avoid the uncertainty of trying to force her nomination through a divided Senate.

People familiar with the deliberations caution that President Obama has yet to make a final decision on the matter, and it is still plausible that Obama could nominate Warren outright for the job or that he could settle on another candidate. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) has said that any candidate should go through the Senate confirmation process, and he raised questions about whether Warren is "confirmable."

Warren or no Warren, dozens of Treasury employees are already working feverishly to get the new bureau up and running within a year. They have begun setting up elements as significant as separate offices to deal with issues affecting women, minorities, military families and senior citizens, and as mundane as securing office space, phones and computers. If Warren were to end up at Treasury, she would walk into a process in full swing.

The new consumer bureau established by the financial overhaul bill will have broad autonomy to write and enforce rules governing credit cards, mortgages and other such loans. Its independent director, once confirmed, will serve a five-year term. Before Obama's signature dried on the bill in July, Warren already had emerged as a top candidate for the job. She is adored by consumer advocates and liberal groups, and disliked by many GOP lawmakers and financial industry representatives, who fear she will crimp legitimate business practices. Other candidates' names floated for the job include Assistant Treasury Secretary Michael S. Barr and Eugene Kimmelman, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department's antitrust division.

Still, there have been increasing signs that Warren will be a leading force in shaping the new bureau, whatever the title on her business card. Warren abruptly canceled a class she was scheduled to teach this fall at Harvard Law School. She has visited the White House at least twice recently, meeting with Obama and his top advisers. And she has sat down with multiple lobbyists from the banking industry, most of whom have expressed a growing level of acceptance that they will be dealing with her for years to come.

The White House isn't signing on to those sentiments quite yet, not until the requisite interviews are finished, the vetting is complete and the president reaches a final decision.

"Elizabeth Warren has been a stalwart voice for American consumers and families and she was the architect of the idea that became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau," an administration spokeswoman said Monday. "The president will have more to say about the agency and its mission soon."

Obama himself has promised as much.

"The idea for this agency was Elizabeth Warren's. She's a dear friend of mine. She's somebody I've known since I was in law school. And, you know, I have been in conversations with her. She is a tremendous advocate for this idea," he said during his news conference Friday. "This is a big task, standing up this entire agency. So I'll have an announcement soon about how we're going to move forward. And, you know, I think what's fair to say is, is that I have had conversations with Elizabeth over the course of these -- over these last couple of months, but I'm not going to make an official announcement until -- until it's ready."

MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST:

SEE PHOTOS: New face of consumer protection agency?

WATCH VIDEO: Warren: 'I'm not a Washington person'

By Brady Dennis  |  September 13, 2010; 8:58 PM ET
Categories:  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau  
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Next: Economic agenda: Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010

Comments

Obama's choices for positons are becoming so radical that he is afraid to have public hearings for confirmation in the Senate. This is a president who is being caged by his own political socialist agenda and radical ideology that is growing into a full revolt by the voters of America. Warren has extensive socialist backbround from the universities that promote socialist social reform. Her position will be to fulfill the agenda for implementing the "New Order" Obama wants as a model for America. The bolshevik socialist model is a failed model that even Castro admits has not worked. Wealth redistribution only leads a country to a state of everyone being poor; jobless; hopeless and without incentive.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Anonymous gives us the great plug-n-play "Obama nominee is a socialist!!!!" line. Warren would be a fantastic nominee - whether interim or not.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Warren would be a great advocate for the American consumer. She is fearless about standing up to banks and Wall Street--and telling the truth about what's been going on--that's why they would fight to block her nomination.

However Obama has to do this, given the obstructionism of the right, is welcome and fine. Republicans never hesitated to do whatever they wanted, however they chose to do it, despite how Democrats or the American public saw or felt about what they did.

Excellent choice!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Before appointing the advocate of a new bureaucracy to head it, President Obama should look to California and the California Institute For Regenerative Medicine. The Institute was created by Proposition 71, the campaign for which was funded in large part by Robert Klein. And who is the Chair of the Board of CIRM? That very same Robert Klein. And how is the CIRM doing? Who knows. They operate in secret and have been accused of self dealing in giving grants to companies whose officers serve on the board.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 13, 2010 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Seemingly the Left is still conflating "reform" with crucifixion... they imagine that shrillness is more important than executive experience...

... and yet they wonder why investors and employers are spooked, and can't IMAGINE why the electorate is about to repudiate their agenda.
.

Posted by: gitarre | September 14, 2010 12:52 AM | Report abuse

Well, I am not holding my breath. I will believe it when it happens. Warren is an excellent choice but Obama has dissappointed me too many times to assume anything.

Posted by: sandnsmith | September 14, 2010 1:05 AM | Report abuse

Obama, just man up already and nominate this very capable woman. If Wall Street hates her, she is absolutely the right choice for the job.

Posted by: DemoDevil | September 14, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Obama will pay at the polls for his refusal to appoint Elizabeth Warren


what's your problem Obama huh" huh

Posted by: JohnAdams1 | September 14, 2010 4:23 AM | Report abuse

Elizabeth Warren would be the best choice to head the agency ....Democrats often have a lack of backbone when it comes to dealing with the "Party of No" but if they and our President do not begin standing up to the the "Know-nothings", they will be the losers as will our country if the "Know-Nothings" regain power.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | September 14, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

Obama is moving ever so carefully toward nominating her; listening to the fall out.
I strongly support letting Warren do the best she can as she has in the past for us all.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

wondering if/when selected whether or not Elizabeth Warren ... to kick start this Bureau in a direction with some inertia hires William K. Black ...

that would be a clear a signal that WE THE PEOPLE have had enough and there will be a price to pay for what has transpired ...

these IMF plug-ins into our Government need to understand taht the people's government NO LONGER will stand for their reckless behavior.

Posted by: AmericanSpirit | September 14, 2010 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Elizabeth Warren insisted not that long ago, that ObamaCare would NOT increase our
health insurance premiums (even though most Americans knew better).
So, now that even Obama is admitting our insurance Will increase... how much confidence can we have in Elizabeth Warren?

Posted by: ohioan | September 14, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Warren = Socialist = Obama

Bad for Economies and the Markets but Great for Lazy Muchers, Bigger Gov't Entitlements and Much Higher Taxes.

Spread the Wealth...Take from Hardworking Americans and give Free Handouts to Lazy Muchers.

Posted by: fantasy_fb | September 14, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Just one more 'academic' thrown into the mix of liberal/progressives who have spent their entire lifetime in education.

None of them have ever had the responsibility of overseeing any private enterprise that must sustain itself on fiscal responsibility, nor have they ever had the responsibility of providing, thru their personal decisions, health and retirement benefits to employees.

Their entire lifetimes have been spent 'theorizing' and 'crunching' numbers, none of which they have created, and then 'jiggering' them to substantiate their personal agenda.

This nation does not need any more 'Czars' or 'interim directors.' Has there ever been an interim 'anything in this government? Once you are in you remain in, there is no way to get you out without providing you an unreasonable pension at the taxpayers expense.

Besides, outside of academia and the Washington liberal beltway you in the world has ever heard of this woman? If she has had such a positive effect for the consumers of this nation how have all the credit card companies managed to expand their percentages on these cards over the years?

Oh, I forgot. President Obama is 'creating' jobs for the unemployed.

This entire administration is nothing more than disorganized chaos which will further bankrupt this nation.

My God, we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Posted by: dharper2 | September 14, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Gotta love it. Refuse to audit the Federal Reserve, create a "consumer protection" agency at the Fed, then appoint one of the most outspoken critics of the banking system to run the new agency. Genius.

I can't wait for all these election-year robots to go back to sleep for two more years.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

If the "village idiots" running the White House have any brains at all, which at this point is clearly in doubt, they will give Warren the appointment and "mobilize" the Progressive wing to vote in November to protect her appointment.

Let's see if "O" has the guts to take on Geithner, Summers & Wall Street or if he is just another Corporate Dem looking to "cash-out" after his term is over!

Posted by: Mike | September 14, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Wall Street hates her. That's all I need to know.

Obama should nominate her and put her to a vote. Then the public would really see how the GOP is in pocket of Wall Street.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

She insisted ObamaCare would Not increase health insurance premiums. Now we're finding out that's not true, at all.
Can't trust her., she either flat-out lied,
or she's stupid.

Posted by: ohioan | September 14, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Deep Blue Dog Conservative...but somehow...I like Warren...she speaks clearly without the Greenspan gobbledie-gook, and has her head around numbers. She's a decent liberal econ and these days that's saying something. Do it.

Posted by: BluePelican | September 14, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if good old Liz has paid her taxes, bombed any buildings, or is just out to destroy the American economy along with her boss?

Posted by: Bcamp55 | September 14, 2010 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Another Obama. This lady has NO EXPERIENCE! She has never worked for a living. She wrote wills and did real estate closing papers for people FROM HER HOME! She then went into teaching and writing books about subjects she has absolutely no experience DOING! How many cases has she argued? How many years has she worked in an office to all hours of the night really trying to protect consumers...the answer NONE! Where does Obama find these guys, in the unemployment line. His best jobs program is one that finds lawyers, somehow associated with Harvard, jobs. Give me a break. It is true that incompetence breeds incompetence. Is there any "qualified and high experienced" people out there?

Posted by: staterighter | September 14, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

For God's Sake, APPOINT her already! SHE is the best person for the job! WHY can't a FIRM decision be made in her favor? A POX on the Republi-WON'Ts who oppose her, they oppose EVERYTHING this President has put forth since taking office. ENOUGH! Just DO it!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

For God's sake, APPOINT her, already! She is the BEST person for the job. The Republi-WON'Ts have opposed EVERYTHING this President has tried to do since his inauguration. They ramrodded EVERYTHING down our throats for eight, long, self-serving, murderous years! A POX on them! Just DO it!

Posted by: billnbillieskid | September 14, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

the author says that financial institutions fear that she will crimp legitimate business practices. i think they fear she will crimp illegitimate business practices. she is intelligent and well versed in the problems of the recent past. she probably just scares timmy g, bernanke and boehner.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I do not know of a more qualified person for this position. As others have said, she is very intelligent, calm, careful in her discussions, she know and understands the problems that she will be facing and can deal with them clearly and directly.

The only problems that the financial institutions face is that she understands them and their objectives-which might not be in the best interest of their customers or the country. She is no push over...and they know it.

The country would be well served with Ms. Warren watching over Wall Street.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 14, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

That is what Obama does.
He goes around Congress and makes his own laws with his Czars and Radical appointees.
Why bother to do things the lawful and American way?

Posted by: joanz3 | September 14, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

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