The pressure is building to name Elizabeth Warren as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on the inside and outside.
I mentioned last night that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee sent out a letter in support of Warren. MoveOn has now done the same, asking supporters to call the White House.
The idea for the consumer agency came from Elizabeth Warren. She’s a Harvard professor, a tireless consumer advocate, and has been heading the watchdog panel charged with keeping an eye on how bailout funds are spent. So it makes sense that she’s widely considered a favorite to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
But Wall Street banks don’t want a tough watchdog like Elizabeth Warren in charge. And now news reports say Timothy Geithner—the head of the Treasury Department—has jumped on their bandwagon, and opposes Warren for the top job.
Elizabeth Warren will hold Wall Street’s feet to the fire, and Americans deserve a strong advocate at the agency. Can you call the White House and tell them you want Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Tell them Tim Geithner is wrong.
Inside Congress, many members have agitated for Warren’s appointment. Barney Frank and Brad Miller have both mentioned Warren as a superlative candidate. Now, there’s a movement inside Congress to pressure Obama to name her. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) has circulated a letter calling on the President to make the nomination. I’ve received a copy of it and added it below.
Maloney’s office just started circulating this letter today, on a getaway Friday, and expects good response once members of Congress come back to Washington. They described it as part of the shift from passing the legislation to getting it up and running, and they hoped it would act as a good counter-weight to any efforts to block Warren’s nomination.
This is a significant amount of activity for one appointment to one federal bureau. The President would do well to heed it. If he wants to live up to his “no-drama Obama” name, the easiest way would be to appoint Warren.
July 16, 2010
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing to ask that you nominate Dr. Elizabeth Warren as Director of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
A consumer financial protection body was Dr. Warren’s idea, first expressed in a journal article in 2007, and we can think of no better person to be its first Director. As a professor at Harvard Law School since 1982, she has risen to national prominence in the area of economics of the middle class. Even before the financial crisis, Professor Warren was warning of risky financial products and of lenders who “deliberately built tricks and traps into some credit products so they can ensnare families in a cycle of high-cost debt.” As Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel she has been an essential voice of reason in the wake of the financial crisis– and an ardent supporter of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
In her original conception, Dr. Warren modeled the Consumer Finance Protection body after the Consumer Product Safety Commission, describing the main functions of the agency “to establish guidelines for consumer disclosure, collect and report data about the uses of different financial products, review new financial products for safety, and require modification of dangerous products before they can be marketed to the public.” She foresaw the new Bureau as being able to evaluate these products to eliminate the gimmicks that made some far more dangerous than others.
At a time when the nation is still coping with the aftermath of a decade of a hands-off regulatory approach that brought the nation the worst financial crisis in three generations, with mortgage foreclosures still occurring at a rate of one million a year, with nearly one in five Americans either unemployed, under-employed, or who have given up looking for work altogether (while still trying to cope with a mountain of consumer debt), we need a CFPB Director who truly understands the burden that American families are coping with today, and the mission of this new body.
Dr. Warren is simply the perfect choice for that post. We hope you will act quickly to appoint her as its Director.