Obama to Name Warren to Start Up Consumer Protection Bureau
By: Carrie Bay
The big news coming out of Washington today – the White House says President Obama will hold a special press briefing Friday afternoon to name Elizabeth Warren to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
She won’t be nominated by the president to fill the role of the bureau’s chief, as has been widely expected – at least not yet. Instead she’ll be given dual titles of assistant to the president and special advisor to the secretary of the Treasury. She will head a steering committee responsible for establishing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and getting it up and running.
The CFPB will have statutory oversight of mortgage lending and the power to set new rules for home loans and other consumer-facing credit products. The most immediate tasks facing the bureau are to resolve regulatory contradictions surrounding mortgage disclosures and develop a new set of industry-wide appraisal rules.
President Obama’s preference for Warren to lead the CFPB has been met with strong opposition from senators — Republicans especially — who would have the power to approve or rescind the nomination. Obama’s announcement Friday is essentially a move to ensure her involvement, yet sidestep the political storm that would almost certainly accompany Warren’s nomination.
As head of the Congressional Oversight Panel, Warren has been one of the administration’s most vocal critics, questioning the government’s use of bailout funds and casting doubt over the success of its housing and foreclosure prevention programs.
On more than one occasion, she has been captured on camera going head-to-head with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in heated debates over the mortgage crisis and the administration’s response, which makes her new title of special advisor to the Treasury secretary that much more of an attention-grabber.
Warren has garnered a reputation as one of big banking and Wall Street’s biggest foes, but a champion of the consumer and the “Joe the Plumbers” of America – precisely why the president considers her the right fit for the job of CFPB director. But sources tell DSNews.com that if she were seated at the head of the bureau, the big banks and their army of lobbyists would fight tooth and nail to undo the appointment.
Warren is an attorney and a Harvard Law School professor. She has spent much of the past three decades studying the economics of middle class families. She was appointed as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel in October 2008. The panel is responsible for assessing actions taken by Treasury and financial institutions and their effect on the economy.
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