Will the White House cut Elizabeth Warren loose?
I can think of no surer way to show the American public that the creation of a Federal Consumer Protection Agency was all spit and no juice than to deny Elizabeth Warrant the role of leading our new consumer protection agency.
Of course her appointment will guarantee a fight on the Hill. The banks know that Warren could spell big trouble for them so it comes as no surprise that the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala), and all the usual suspects, are completely opposed to her nomination.
But isn’t this precisely the fight that the Democrats should be begging for as they head into election season? Isn’t this exactly the type of battle that would expose who actually has the interests of the American public at heart and who is standing up for the monied financial interests that run the nation?
Warren is a tough, poor kid from Oklahoma who grew up to be a distinguished professor of law at Harvard where she spent the last 30 years studying the economic conditions of the American middle class. As a result of her expertise, she was chosen to be the chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to investigate the bank bailout (TARP).
And what a job she has done.
Anything but shy when it comes to riding herd over the Department of Treasury, Warren has succeeded in gaining the confidence of the nation simply by telling Americans the truth about what had happened, what continues to happen and what we can expect will happen in the future if the banks are permitted to continue doing business as usual at the expense of the American middle class.
Playing the game with honestly and fearing no reprisal when it comes to speaking the truth to her fellow Americans, it is not particularly surprising that the Obama Administration’s financial Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum – Tim Geithner and Larry Summers- also oppose Warren being tapped to run the consumer protection bureau- the very agency that she is largely responsible for bringing into being.
The fact that Geithner and Summers are not fans of Professor Warren have not prevented the President from pushing Warren’s plan and taking advantage of her good stead with the American public at every politically opportune moment. As a result, Obama owes Warren this job as much as we need her in the job.
Still, the Administration is clearly not ready to stand up for Elizabeth Warren.
Speaking on a conference call with reporters this morning, White House senior advisor, David Axelrod, said –
Elizabeth Warren is a great, great champion for consumers and middle-class families across the country. She has helped inform this effort greatly and what has been done here in many ways reflects something she’s been advocating for years and years and years, so she’s obviously a candidate to lead this effort.
But, then, Axelrod went on to say -
There are other candidates as well but Elizabeth is certainly a candidate to lead it and one thing I know for certain is however we move forward she’s going to be a strong voice in helping shape this and make it the most effective voice for consumers that it possibly can be.
That sounds a lot to me like ‘thanks for everything and please leave your keys at the door on the way out. ”
It is no secret that the White House wants to appoint someone that can step into the job as soon as possible with the minimum amount of stress being created by the Senate. And appointing Warren will surely create maximum stress in the Senate.
But there is no other candidate who has earned the job in the way that Elizabeth Warren has earned it. And for the White House to fail to acknowledge not only her incredible work to date but the strong bond of honesty and trust she has built with the American public would be just one more example of the Obama Administration taking the political way out rather than doing the right thing.
Can the Administration really afford another sell-out?
This is a fight worth having, not only because Warren is worth fighting for but because it is a fight that could pay huge political benefits to Democrats in November.
Obama needs this battle. The Democrats need this battle. And the nation needs Elizabeth Warren to get this important new agency off on the right foot. Americans need to know that the new consumer protection agency is there to serve and protect their interests – not simply serve as some strawman existing only to keep the peace with the financial community.
When the President signs the financial reform bill next week, Elizabeth Warren should be standing right there next to him as Obama announces her as his appointee to be the first Director of the Federal Consumer Protection Agency.
Anything less would be a slap in the face to all Americans, a lost opportunity for a Democratic party badly in need of creating some good will and proof positive that the Obama Administration has become so mired in keeping the peace that it has lost all touch with the concept of how doing the right thing can, on occasion, produce a political win.