My fellow panelist Elizabeth Warren (and boy does it feel good to say that) has continued to receive endorsements from key Senators and editorialists to get the position of director for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. While Tom Harkin’s letter to the President, signed by 12 Senators, endorsed someone “with a track record akin to that of” Professor Warren to serve as director, others are going further. Al Franken endorsed Warren for CFPB director while at Netroots Nation, and on the panel Sen. Jeff Merkley said he has talked to the White House about Warren’s nomination. Merkley made the important point to Sam Stein that, because the Dodd-Frank law isn’t really a law but a promise to write a law later, having the right regulators doing that writing is of central importance:
For Merkley, the case for Warren is not just about the individual attributes she’d bring to the post, but also the various shortcomings of the just-passed regulatory reform legislation. A leading proponent of stricter rules to clamp down on the financial services industry, Merkley acknowledged feeling trepidation that the final legislative product left too much power to the judgment of the regulators. Having a strong advocate in a key post, in short, had become a vital ingredient to the legislation’s success. Warren, he said, would be that type of regulator.
Sen. Tom Udall, who didn’t sign the Harkin letter, has gone even further, writing specifically to the White House and endorsing Warren as “the most qualified person to lead the agency.” Udall touts her work on the Congressional Oversight Panel monitoring TARP (in which she has been a thorn in the side of, among other people, Tim Geithner), and her “demonstrated passion for defending the needs of everyday working families… Should you decide to nominate her to lead the Bureau, it will be a clear sign that the Bureau will be a champion for the American consumer, will stand up to unscrupulous actors and will not shrink from fulfilling its mission under pressure.”
At Netroots Nation, Udall told me that Harkin’s letter didn’t go far enough for his taste, so he decided to write his own. He feels strongly that only Warren can make the agency into a powerhouse.
The New York Times editorial board threw its weight behind Warren in a spotlight editorial on Sunday, saying that “The banks don’t oppose Ms. Warren because she doesn’t get it. They oppose her because she does.” The President said on Friday on Good Morning America that “I have the highest regard for Elizabeth.” And Robert Gibbs reiterated at today’s daily briefing that Warren would be “very confirmable” for the CFPB.
Binyamin Applebaum at the NYT tried to make the case today that Warren would create a “partisan divide,” but privately, I’ve heard that some Republicans might not be so keen on blocking a consumer protection advocate, and even might want to stick it to Geithner in some ways by confirming Warren. In addition, Republicans actually quoted Warren on the Senate floor during the small business bill debate last week. If Republicans want to sign on to the views of this bank lobbyist, go ahead:
“Not that she’s not competent. Goodness gracious, I would never say that. She’s exceptionally bright. We just fear what she might come up with,” Mr. Beverage (head of the Oklahoma Bankers Association) said. “She’s a partisan and she’s bull-headed and she’s opinionated. And she’s terrific. She’s a great advocate. We just respectfully disagree with her view of the world.”
And we respectfully disagree with the view of the world of the heads of banking trade groups.
UPDATE: I’m not trying to intimate that Sen. Udall disfavored Sen. Harkin’s letter, just that he wanted to be specific about Warren’s nomination rather than someone with the same track record. Hopefully that was clear.