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Elizabeth Warren on Way to Being Sidelined as Head of Consumer Protection Agency, Relegated to “Advisor” Role

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The body language of the Administration has been clear from the outset on the question of whether Elizabeth Warren would get its nomination to head of the new financial services consumer protection agency. Despite the occasional public remark regarding her undeniable competence, which really amounted to damning her with faint praise, Team Obama has never been on board with the idea. Michael Barr, assistant treasury secretary, was noised up early on as a possible candidate, but the PR push halted abruptly when her many supporters pointed out the obvious, that she was clearly the better choice. Then we had the no doubt authorized Chris Dodd kiss of death, that he thought she was qualified but doubted she could be confirmed by the Senate.

The reality is that the Administration was never going to appoint her; the only question is whether she can be kept in their orbit and not be a net negative as far as their dubious priorities are concerned. Timothy Geithner has become a central actor on all Adminstration economic policy matters, giving him more reach, and thus more face time with the White House than is normal for a Treasury secretary. Given how Warren has successfully, and correctly, roughed Geithner up before Congress in her role as head of the Congressional Oversight Panel for various TARP administrative shortcomings, he was guaranteed to be at best a non-supporter.

But on a much more basic level, the Warren marginalization isn’t about personalities, although the powers that be love to pigeonhole thorns in their side that way. The clashes reflect fundamental differences in philosophy. Geithner, the Administration that stands behind him, and Dodd all are staunch defenders of our rapacious financial services industry, even though they make occasional moves to disguise that fact. Warren, by contrast, is clearly a skeptic, and a dangerous one to boot, because she understands the abuses well and is able to communicate effectively with the public.

Expect Warren to be pushed further to the sidelines, just as Paul Volcker has been (oh, and pulled out of mothballs when the Administration desperately needed to create the appearance it really might be tough on banks). Perhaps they hope her tenuous standing as acting head can be used to keep her in line. But she may also believe she has more influence even in a likely to be weakened position than on the outside as a critic. And sadly, that may prove true. Individuals, no matter how stellar their resumes, command far less media attention than those who hold powerful posts.

Now the Administration is pretending to hide its cards on this one. Technically, it could bypass confirmation altogether and have Warren as de facto leader of the agency, and never name a permanent director. However, the end game seems obvious: keep her in orbit through mid-terms to prevent a hissy fit from her many fans, then name a more bank friendly permanent director (the argument no doubt being that her effectiveness is compromised by her not being confirmed, and with the odds high that the elections will put more Republicans in Senate seats, the Administration will argue its hands are tied). However, this timetable could be optimistic; as a special advisor, she serves at the pleasure of the Administration and will be a lame duck as soon as a permanent director candidate is put forward.

Will Warren last? Both Brooksley Born and Sheila Bair have been accused of not being team players. With the team being industry cronies, that’s a badge of honor. But each also had a clear bureaucratic role, and Born was still pushed out. I’m surprised Warren is accepting such a compromised position. Perhaps she believes she still has a bully pulpit and can embarrass the Administration into doing the right thing. But it will take a very thick skin for her to follow that course of action.

From MSNBC. Note its original headline was “Wall Street critic won’t get top consumer job”; it has been revised to the anodyne, “Wall Street critic to help set up consumer agency“:

The White House will name Wall Street critic Elizabeth Warren to a special advisory role in setting up the new Consumer Protection Agency called for by the financial regulatory overhaul, a source familiar with the White House’s plans told NBC News on Wednesday….

The 61-year-old Harvard University professor had been considered the leading candidate to head the bureau itself, but her lack of support in the financial community could have set the stage for contentious Senate hearings that may have ultimately derailed her confirmation…

Others mentioned as contenders to lead the agency are Michael Barr, an assistant treasury secretary who was a key architect of the administration’s financial regulatory plans, and Eugene Kimmelman, a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s antitrust division.

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73 comments

  1. carping demon

    I expect you’re right about this. I was looking forward to her confrontation with the Senate. She’s one person I feel would actually stand up to the bastards. That would have been nice to see, regardless of the outcome. More trouble than she needs, of course.

  2. wunsacon

    Too little, too late. I’m not voting for Dems again. I’m not sending them any money. (Well, maybe to Grayson.)

    Let’s see the GOP get back into power and finish the job they started in 1981 (with a lot of Dem help and a brief hiatus thanks to a sane elder Bush) and accelerated the past 10 years.

    Optimists point out to pessimists like me that “we’re always going to hell in a hand basket — but never quite get there”. But, there’s also the saying: “if you don’t change where you’re headed, you’ll eventually get there”.

    1. Chris

      I fully agree. The Democrats have done nothing to stem the rise of fascism in this country. I’m almost hoping the GOP wins and continues winning so the country can get what it really deserves. The problem is, those of us who don’t support it are going to suffer.

  3. Kevin Egan

    For a long time now, I’ve been finishing posts to Hullabaloo and other sites this way: “Third party now: Elizabeth Warren for President!”

    Now more than ever. The Democrats are not only morally repugnant in their embrace of the banks and the financial industry, they are unbelievably feckless: they have turned the biggest majority in decades into the groundwork for a Republican landslide. Enough is enough.

    1. attempter

      If Warren were really what she’s cracked up to be, she wouldn’t be willing to “stay in their orbit”, nor would she be willing to take the CFPB job under what would obviously be the circumstances of ineffectuality.

      As I’ve said before, she’d instead be going to the people. She’d be a public educator and advocate. Maybe even be available for that Third Party you just mentioned. (I also have no idea what her positions are in general and if they’re any good.)

      But in the end she’s a system cadre just like the rest. It was foolish to ever repose “hope” in her. People don’t like to hear that, which is a metric of how even those who are rejecting the system are still conditioned to wait for a Leader and conditioned to never think that we simply have to purge all elites and rule ourselves with no elites whatsoever.

      1. jm51

        Attempter: Two points you make are valid
        (1) “If Warren were really what she’s cracked up to be, she wouldn’t be willing to “stay in their orbit”, nor would she be willing to take the CFPB job under what would obviously be the circumstances of ineffectuality.” Many respondants to this story and on other websites seem to think that just because the war criminal Obama selected her, she can’t tell him shove it.
        (2)”But in the end she’s a system cadre just like the rest. It was foolish to ever repose “hope” in her. People don’t like to hear that, which is a metric of how even those who are rejecting the system are still conditioned to wait for a Leader and conditioned to never think that we simply have to purge all elites and rule ourselves with no elites whatsoever.” I don’t know if this Warren is “a system cadre” or not but your point about waiting for a Leader to save the day is exactly the mentality that got us the war criminal Obama. They don’t understand that fundamental and substantive change will never happen by sitting in the stands analyzing and kibitzing the actions of others on the field. If you want substantive change, take control of the agenda and force the establishment to react to your actions! A small completely dedicated and focused group can accomplish change. The proof is that the number of persons controlling the agenda now (elites as you describe them) is very small but dedicated an focused. The masses are completely malleable.

  4. Doug Terpstra

    This is not a big surprise from the Chicago and New York boyz. Their cynical political calculus is just too clever — eating their cake first and still having it afterwards too.

    Clearly they want Warren inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in, but as you say, Yves, it is puzzling that she would go along with the obvious charade given such “fundamental differences in philosophy”. It’s not only a question of self-respect, but about her lending visible support to yet another fraud, which is likely to come out in time and taint her credibility. Perhaps she rationalizes that she can do more good on the inside, but she may come to regret it as deeply as Colin Powell regrets his historic role in aiding and abetting a criminal war.

  5. Francois T

    SIgh! I’m afraid this post of mine shall have to dispense with language niceties and drop any pretense at proving I hold an advanced education.

    Special Advisory Role, huh? Like serving at the pleasure of the Boss. How convenient!

    Sure Dude in Chief! I got a leather handle in the back and I’m totally empty inside, so feel free to stuff as much bullshit as you wish, right?

    Since I cannot send a nasty email to said Dude-in-Chief under threat of being banned from the neighborhood:

    http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/09/15/british-teen-banned-from-u-s-after-sending-drunk-e-mail-to-president-obama/

    (How’s that for Staten Polizei…Bitchez?)

    I’ll say what I think here:

    BO…you suck to no end! Moreover, you really think we’re THAT stupid, huh?

    No wonder you waited ’til September; not enough time for Warren to realize how bad it’ll be to be shun inch by inch to the sidelines before the November election. After that, well…the next election is an eternity away, as they say in politics.

    Dishonor, betrayal and an infinite capacity to bend over, due to a total lack of spine.

  6. Don in GA

    The Obama administration effort to give Elizabeth Warren some kind of ceremonial role and marginalize her rather than completely cast her out is reminiscent of LBJ’s remark about J. Edgar Hoover: “I’d rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside pissing in.”

    I’d like to see her turn down anything they offer her short of heading a new consumer protection agency and become a persistent critic of the banksters and their friends in both parties via Op-Ed pieces and appearances on the financial TV networks.

  7. billwilson

    I really wonder why she took the position. I know it is her baby, but …

    And why Obama did not go for a confirmation fight I just don’t know. Talk about a can’t lose proposition. Then again it has been hard enough to get Dems to rally against tax cuts for the wealthy (another can’t lose)… unbelievable.

    1. SARose

      I understand why Obama didn’t go for confirmation. The obstructionists in the senate (including the conservative Dem’s – see Christopher Dodd’s judgment on the probability of her confirmation even with the current senate makeup) would have strung out the process for a year or more while Warren would have been powerless to either speak out about the process or work at setting up the agency. If the Dem’s lose senate seats in November, she might never be confirmed. At least her being named an administration special advisor keeps her out of the senate graveyard and gets the process of putting together the agency underway.

      The boys in the White House are seriously behind in understanding the need to play hardball. I thought that was why Rahm was made Chief of Staff, but apparently his abilities are limited to spewing obscenities; he certainly doesn’t show any talent for knocking heads in congress to push through legislation or nominations.

  8. Tom Crowl

    She shouldn’t take it under these terms… it’s a no-win situation for both her and the things she espouses.

    Though possibly she could accept the role… immediately propose some strong measures against the banks and financial services sector ‘privately’ within her role as advisor…

    Make sure that her positions are ‘leaked’…

    When they’re shot down (and they will be)

    She should very publicly quit stating, “I’m honored to have served but believe I can be of greater service elsewhere…”

    And then run for whatever office she wants as an independent.

    1. Parvaneh Ferhad

      That’s the point of this exercise, to destroy her.
      It’s done often.
      They take critics, move them into important positions and then pull all strings to make them appear ineffective, inefficient and incompetent.
      Nothing destroys careers as good as this one, and, of course, it destroys credibility with the public too.

      So, if the ones you’ve been criticising offer you a job, be careful.

  9. Brutus

    At least I will save the money that I would have otherwise sent to the Obama reelection campaign. Once it is official, I am going to ask them to remove me from their email distribution list.

    Perhaps the best thing for the country is a Tea Party President who will play the role of Herbert Hoover. After that, we can get a real FDR.

  10. ndk

    Extremely well played by the Obama administration. I’m very disappointed in Warren for her decision, as she evidently calculated that — even after the abject example of Volcker — she would have more power on the inside than the outside.

    She has the charisma, brains, and star power to have pulled a Palin and stepped outside the system where she could’ve done some real good.

    As it stands, she’s agreed to a set of restrictions and quid pro quos. The Obama administration has effectively muzzled or co-erced her, and probably won some support from the perennially credulous progressives, who had legitimate reasons to believe that Warren was the best for the job.

    I feel the same way about this as I’ve felt about Yves meeting Geithner. Deeply disappointed and betrayed.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Huh? Have I been any nicer to the Administration as a result of that meeting? Do you see any evidence I am carrying their water? You forget I worked on Wall Street and met a lot of polished sociopaths.

      In fact, Steve Waldman, who actually was a bit star struck and admits to it, nevertheless wrote a post that by all accounts did real damage, more than I did by deciding not to report on substance out of a concern of unwittingly carrying Treasury’s message.

      http://www.interfluidity.com/v2/933.html

      1. ndk

        I’ll concede that you’re better inoculated against such individuals than most in this world, but I’ve been occasionally in analogous situations myself — and I found myself, like Waldman, gently charmed into a bit more empathy than I had before. I then hate myself for it, and consciously try to remove what has been done, but never know whether or not I’ve been successful.

        So to answer your question, no, I haven’t seen any tinges coloring your vision. Calculated Risk’s headline was extremely sympathetic to the Obama administration, far worse than yours. But influence is insidious stuff, and it’s as difficult to prove that your views were unaffected as it is to prove that jobs were “saved or created”. I strongly prefer avoidance of such compromising situations entirely.

        It’s tangential and emotional, though, so maybe I ought not to have made reference to it.

        Elaborating a little further on the real topic, I’m very disappointed with the calculus that Warren has apparently made and deeply regret her acceptance of this position. I think it’s a real mistake. Resigning at any point in the future, a possibility to which you allude, leaves her utterly defanged. Staying, she’s now beholden to the administration, a poor bureaucrat, with no chance against Geithner and Summers.

        So, yeah. Big, big win for Team Obama.

      2. Don in GA

        Yves, I had no idea you’d met with that smarmy little reptile Geithner and there’s certainly nothing in your writing that suggests you’re pulling any punches as a result.

  11. jest

    Yves -

    You really are a “glass half empty” person aren’t you? Sheesh.

    Alas, you seem to be right (again) and I agree this totally fits the pattern of Obama using favorites of his base as a short-lived dog and pony show, before discarding them shortly after he is done with them.

    You mentioned Volcker, but then he tried this mess with Shirley Sherrod, but she turned him down, and now Warren is in the mix.

    He’s running out of people to throw away.

    1. Dr. Pitchfork

      Forget about how much is in the glass. What Yves is telling you is that it’s filled with poison. Just Say No.

      How many hours did Axelrod spend thinking about how to play this? A pretty damn long time. Bush invaded Iraq in the face of tens of millions of protesters all around the world. Obama is afraid of Chris Dodd. Forget how much is in the glass.

  12. john bougearel

    The very act of marginalizing the only consumer advocate that the public is well aware of begins to trivialize the new agency as anything but an agency for consumer protection.

    Unwittingly, the idea of a consumer protection agency is being too narrowly defined. My impression is that the new consumer agency is being created to protect consumers from only the predatory financial industry. This is far too narrow a scope for an agency that is supposed to be a consumer advocate.

    It’s reasons like this that makes Yves want the word “reform’ back, because the Obama admin is so badly misusing it with regard to their new financial and health care reform legislation, legislation that is much ado about nothing except protecting bad corporate actors.

  13. Glen

    The only way Prof. Warren can be a success at this job is to continue to be totally fearless and public in the execution of her duties. After all, being fired for failing to do what the Obama Administration wants would be considered a better outcome by the American people than creating a CFPA which fails to protect Americans.

    1. KFritz

      Agreed. She needs to be every bit as duplicitous w/ them as they are w/ her. Lie about acceding to their terms, take the job & then do darn well as she pleases. When they fire her, ask to be allowed to resign w/ grace, resign w/ a stinging indictment of their duplicity, & recommend Bill Black as her successor. All as loudly & publicly as possible. Put the knife in & TWIST.

      1. ndk

        I really think this would come off as being bitter and impotent, even taking into account her greater popularity with subsets of the Obama voting base than Obama has at this point.

        Once you’ve acceeded to to such a deal, the optics change dramatically when it comes to the combatative actions you describe. You’re an investor. Picture, say, Intel hiring a new CTO, who promptly leaves over a loud disagreement regarding chip design. That’s all you know. Are you most likely to view the departing executive as the voice of reason, or an odd accident?

        By accepting the job I fear that Warren has eliminated her capacity to be impactful in the present or future, having traded it for a meaningless bureaucratic slot that is of negligible value or power.

        1. psychohistorian

          I respectfully disagree. We have a serious social war going on here and REAL leaders like Warren is standing up in her own way like other strong women these days like Jane Hamsher, Digby, our humble host as well as others.

          To those emerging strong women I want to say thank you and if they start offing you like they have done to past humanistic male leadership this peacenik may just change his tune…..stay strong.

          1. attempter

            You’ve sure been drinking some kind of kool-aid. Except for Yves, those examples present a pretty dismal record.

            Warren’s actions so far establish that in the end she’s a system cadre and will go with the system. Hamsher as pied piper of the double scam of the “public option” and “progressive bloc” was either an idiot or a conscious traitor. Digby’s a craven box-thinking “better liberal” all the way.

            No, I’m afraid the record of the gals has been just as atrocious as that of the guys. People have to stop having faith in false panaceas that are somehow going to bring “reform” within the system.

    2. ndk

      The Obama administration isn’t stupid. She wouldn’t have been appointed to this position — or any at all — if she were, in their eyes, a total loose cannon. They clearly feel as though she’s a good enough team player to bring her into the circle, and I fear they’re right.

      And, if they’re wrong, and Warren is unruly as you hope, they have an easy out, by getting a permanent chair into place quickly. Warren is effectively out of contention, and out of the spotlight and out of service once the permanent chair is merely named.

      Again, very well played by Team Obama.

      1. Glen

        Not unruly, if you watched her work as head of the commission over seeing the bailout, she was a very tough straight shooter. I would expect no less in her current position, and if she is unable to do that, then to resign and state why.

      2. tawal

        ndk, we’re sick and tired of politicking. We want transparency. That’s why we will be building the future based on a new egalitarian system. Not too late to join us.

  14. Glen

    But it’s too late to do ANYTHING about 2010, and short of Obama turning into FDR and revamping the economy in a huge way, time’s running out for Obama in 2012 too.

  15. ATH

    I voted for Obama hoping for a positive change, but so long as his administration includes Geithner and Summers and leaves out (good) folks like Warren and Volker, Obama will continue to lose my support going forward…..

    1. KFritz

      I voted for Obama because of limited choices, hoping for the best. One look @ the opposition scared anyone in possession of a majority of their senses.

      1. psychohistorian

        It is a truism that for presidential races we are forced into voting for the lesser of the evils by the powers that be. That is why I like the “Fix Congress First” approach even though I may not agree with all they express.

        It all just seems like it is too little too late, but what else is there to do?

        1. burrow owl

          Simon Johnson is wrong. There’s no other way to get Warren in at CFPB w/o confirmation hearings. It’s either a counsel position under Geithner or the standard confirmation process.

  16. jbmoore

    This is rather confusing. According to Simon Johnson’s post, http://baselinescenario.com/2010/09/10/republican-nightmare-putting-elizabeth-warren-to-work-now/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BaselineScenario+%28The+Baseline+Scenario%29 , Warren could be appointed directly without the need of a Senate confirmation. But, the way the press releases are worded, it sounds like she’s being locked away in some corner office in Treasury to be ignored or Volckered as Yves describes it. An advisor to an agency is not the same as an interim head. Therefore, Yves assessment is likely to be correct. It seems that the Dems wish to appease the banks and only the banks. But, to appease the banks plays into the hands of the Republicans since it makes the Democrats look like weak and ineffective leaders while having their hands out pleading for bank donations. The whole situation stinks and is offensive to any one with any sense of decency. Why are the Democrats neutralizing the best advocate they have against the Republicans and their political agenda, and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory? Obviously, people think differently inside the Beltway than in the rest of the country. D.C. must be in its own little cocoon of a world. When is that bubble of delusion going to burst? The Obama Administration is schizoid. It claims to be Democratic, but it acts like a right of center Republican Administration. It’s not even moderate in policy by its actions. Has everything shifted so far right that the center is the new left?

    1. PQS

      To answer your last question: yes.

      Courtesy of Bushco, which moved the Right so far into lala land that they created the TPers, who think that “taking the country back” to the 18th century will solve their problems.

      Obama is more right than Eisenhower.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        The duopoly has played the lesser-evilism strategy brilliantly, just like a mob protection racket.

        “You don’t want those thugs to break your legs, do you? You don’t want a reptilian newt crawling up through the sewer drain, do you? You don’t want moose-skinner Palin on the nuclear trigger, right?”

        You wretches better turn out in November and be grateful we’re not those people.

    2. burrow owl

      Simon Johnson is wrong. There’s no other way to get Warren in at CFPB w/o confirmation hearings. It’s either a counsel position under Geithner or the standard confirmation process.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Oh no, surely not confirmation hearings—the spectre of gelatinous-jowled white guys beating up on poor Lizzy. Please, God, no. Anyway, it’s well known that confirmation hearings are the gateway to the possible threat of the utterance of the word…gasp…filibuster (MOMMY!), or worse, the public figuring out the machinations behind the curtain. Let’s all just agree to handle this quietly.

  17. rd

    This is very unfortunate. I am currently using Elizabeth Warren’s nomination as my primary litmus test on Obama for 2012 because I think that it is a very good revealer of what his true core values are. This isn’t a highly technical, nuanced and negotiated bill like helath care or financial reform. This is a fundamental us (middle class) vs. them (overpaid financial sector and bought politicians) issue.

    I voted for him in 2010 after some careful thought as I have always liked John McCain, but he is in serious danger of losing my vote for 2012. This could be the closer.

    1. SARose

      My litmus test was whether Obama would disavow Bush’s extra-constitutional grabs at executive privilege, specifically his policies on torture and extraordinary rendition. Now that Obama has authorized the death penalty on American citizens without the formality or either indictment or trial, the litmus paper has caught fire in my hands.

      I hold out no hope at all that any Republican would be any better, and I have no faith that any other Democrat would be less intimidated by the military or the intelligence agencies than Obama. There will be no one available to rescue this country from the bankers, the corporatists, the military-industrial complex, the black ops boys, the political corruption or ourselves. I’m having a difficult time reconciling myself to this state of affairs, but I have no choice but to become inured to it all in the end.

  18. ndk

    I’d briefly bounce readers over towards Hoocoodanode? for some interesting commentary from reader “MaxedOutMama”. She objects to Warren for a more fundamental reason: she thinks Warren lacks the expertise and familiarity with consumer lending and banking more generally to be effective in the role.

    The points she makes are compelling to me, and well worth a read. I’m not competent to judge. But if she’s right, it’s another reason why Warren would have been more useful on the outside as a benevolent troublemaker rather than doing the technocratic legislative work.

  19. Tao Jonesing

    “Geithner, the Administration that stands behind him, and Dodd all are staunch defenders of our rapacious financial services industry, even though they make occasional moves to disguise that fact. Warren, by contrast, is clearly a skeptic, and a dangerous one to boot, because she understands the abuses well and is able to communicate effectively with the public.”

    The banksters and their cronies fear what could happen if a smart, determined skeptic gets a peak at the unsanitized income and debt data. The data as presented by the various agencies (the BEA, the Fed and the IRS) are so different, so conflicting, so maddeningly obtuse that it is impossible to understand the complete picture with any granularity. This cannot be by accident.

    If somebody as savvy and independent as Elizabeth Warren were able to dig into the real data, I bet she would quickly discover that the rising income inequality in this country is a symptom of the middle class consumer being preyed upon by the FIRE sector as opposed to “structural” changes or increased productivity. The jig would be up.

  20. nowhereman

    As soon as Obama picked his “economic” team I knew the jig was up. I have been ruing the day ever since. Elizabeth Warren is anethema to the this government and they will try to marginalize anyone that is competent and that is our lot.

  21. John

    I think Obama’s goal in the 2012 election is to get 5% of eligible voters votes to 4% for the Republicans/Tea-Party to 3% for whatever third party happens to come in third.

  22. Kevin de Bruxelles

    Are the current systemic political problems in America so easily solved that promoting one white knight to one leadership position will set America on a sound path again?

    The idea of Elizabeth Warren riding in and saving the day just helps hide the stark reality that we are way past the point where one person, no matter how moral or able, is going to be able to reverse the irretrievable rush of America towards the cascade of political destruction.

    The hope placed in Ms. Warren reminds me of the closing days of WW2, as the Soviet armies moved in towards Berlin, where certain segments of senior German leadership put the same sort of irrational hope into the so called Army Detachment Steiner. Hitler kept telling his advisers not to worry because they would receive word of Steiner’s victory any moment now. In reality Steiner was outnumbered at least 10 to 1 but even this included troops that he could not move. In the end the only troops he could muster up were a couple battalions of SS police who did not even carry combat weapons. The famous Hitler “Downfall” parodies capture the moment after Hitler received word, not of Steiner’s victory, but the cold reality that Steiner was in no position to make any attack at all. It was then clear to everyone, even the most delusional, hat Steiner was not going to ride in on a white horse and save the day. And just to be clear, in making this analogy I am not at all trying to impart any moral link between the Nazis and current believers in the US system.

    And if we really think about what it would really take to make an heroic last stand against the unrelenting charge of Wall Street’s “Red Army”, Elizabeth Warren has probably even fewer weapons at her disposal than Steiner had.

    And so hopefully the news that Mrs. Warren is not going to ride in and single-handedly crush Wall Street will help convince the last few believers in the American political system’s capacity for self-reformation that things are going to get much uglier before they get better.

  23. Bill

    “Know them by their fruits” A corrupt Government , a corrupt banking system , and an utterly corrupt Wall street . There was no way the peoples choice would be placed in power . The political powers that be have ignored the populace once again . Sealing their fate . That is unless elections are held off due to public outcry . South America anyone? This just puts J6P into deeper despair and hopelessness of change ever coming . Damn the current crooks . Vote them ALL OUT !!!!!!

  24. Brick

    Her lack of support in the financial community could have set the stage for contentious Senate hearings that may have ultimately derailed her confirmation…

    That just about says it all really.

    Contenders to lead the agency are Michael Barr, an assistant treasury secretary who was a key architect of the administration’s financial regulatory plans.

    So the lead contender is somebody who they know will listen to the financial community.Why am I surprised when Mr Geithner holds the responsibility for establishing the bureau.I suppose we should present the arguments in favour though to be fair.
    The position would let Warren avoid a Senate confirmation battle which she would most probably lose. After all the president of the Consumer Bankers Association in Arlington, Virginia, said any consumer protection head, “interim or otherwise,” should be confirmed by the Senate.
    So perhaps the cronyism is so bad that the only way they could get her to have an influence was through the back door and under treasury guidance.

  25. Skippy

    Klingon Opera…forces strong battle…faux subtly projected clouding clue…

    Sorry folks I for one can not be drawn into this Opera, Ms Warrens intentions aside. Asking others to do what we as individual citizens should do, for our own selves, and as a peaceful collective, is a recipe for more of the same.

    The system cannibalizes every one, like a pedophile Grandfather with 40 grand kids, no one is safe and dirty shameful secrets become the glue which binds all involved, truth undiscovered for societal imagery.

    Her worth in putting out the message (liquidation of the middle class) was much more effective having not been tainted by proximity to the malfeasance incarnate. Should she ever truly have access to data and decide to go public, well it would not fair well for her.

    Skippy…”What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon, and three in the evening?”, Oedipus Rex…by voting you may end up in a inappropriate marriage…eh.

  26. anon

    There’s always the possibility that she’s being given a reasonably fair and somewhat open minded test drive, with both put and call options available. What’s to lose with the call option?

  27. Chris

    The whole move of bringing her in is a cheap bone thrown to liberals. Once in like so many have said, she’ll be effectively neutralized. The end result of Rule by Corporation will continue unabated.

    Nothing changes until people rise up and get hornery.

  28. Jackrabbit

    I read (on HuffPost, I believe) that the agency already has 35 people working in it. If true, that alone makes me think that it is already compromised by being stuffed with Geithner’s people.

    It seems that Warren was backed into a corner. If she declined to work as a “special advisor” – then the administration would loudly proclaim that she turned down the post and move on.

  29. Chester Genghis

    Like most others, I am profoundly dismayed by this news. I was waiting & hoping for Warren’s nomination as a long overdue signal that Obama had stomach for the good fight. Alas, no.

    On the lighter side, the NYT article on this includes a statement that’s quite funny:

    “But she (Warren) has drawn fire from financial institutions for her persistent attacks on abusive, deceptive and unfair lending practices; some banking executives believe she has been overly broad in criticizing those practices.”

    Gee Whiz! Just because they engage in abusive, deceptive, illegal, predatory practices is no reason to be critical…

    It reminds me of Paulie in The Pope of Greenwich Village (one of my favorite movies)when he learns that someone he robbed is out to get him.

    To paraphrase: “What’s he so upset about? I stole money from him. I didn’t spit in his face. I didn’t rape his daughter. I just stole money from him!”

  30. ep3

    Good call on this one Yves. This has all the typical Obama BS; the “anonymous source” saying she will he chosen to setup the agency (from another article the other day), Obama saying how awesome she is, Dobb saying how great thou art BUT.

  31. mbartv

    As a Fed (a couple rungs down from this type of position) I wouldn’t necessarily assume that the Obama administration is acting in bad faith here. She may very well face intransigent or interminable opposition in confirmation – Martha Johnson was held up for over a year as head of GSA, and then confirmed unanimously (!) Putting her in the position to set up the agency gives her a real ability to affect outcomes starting now, and I assume she won’t suddenly turn into a shrinking violet.

  32. emca

    What can I add?

    Its curtain-call for Ms. Warren. As JBM suggested above, a Senate fight would have been the perfect venue to show the Demo’s were on the consumer’s side. Was it really a matter of criticism of unloved financial institutions being publicly sounded, not E.W.’s confirmation, that was feared?

    I think so.

    Nevertheless, I wish Ms. Warren well in her new role as Geithner’s advisor. Maybe its naive to think such a position would not be a platform for advocating political reform.

  33. Eric

    If nominated now, she would not have been confirmed and that would have been the end of it. And the process would not have even been worthwhile politically for the President as the lack of support for her extends quite deep into the Democratic party. In a more general political way it may have been valuable as it would serve to remind people how deeply the financial industry is committed to maintaining control over Congress, but I’m afraid that the only people that would actually have noticed are already aware of that fact. So why not take a wild swing with seeing if she can contribute something positive from this advisor’s position?

  34. Pwelder

    Yves, you and just about every commenter except mbartv are jumping way too early to excessively gloomy conclusions wrt Ms. Warren’s advisory appointment.

    You will feel a lot better if you think happy thoughts about this. Which is not hard to do if you look at it from standpoint of a capable White House political operative. (I know I know, maybe there’s no such animal. But stay with me here.) If I was him or her, I’d be thinking:

    **************************************

    It’s time to get to work and start putting the agency together. So let Liz have a big say on the early decisions. She knows a lot about what needs fixing, and is more likely to make the right calls during the early going than anyone else. The base will love it, and even if she goes a bit over the top here and there the banks deserve it.

    They want to see who blinks first on the Senate confirmation? OK, let’s let them slow-walk it for as long as they want. Time is on our side here. Remember, there’s a REALLY important election (our own) coming up starting real soon now. While this nomination is in play it can be a fund-raising bonanza for our own Congressfolks, who in this persistently lousy economy will be needing all the help they can get. And then, hopefully in the early summer of 2012, let’s have the big scene in the Senate where Mitch McConnell and the crew try their best to Mau-mau the photogenic, knowledgable and obviously consumer-oriented Ms. Warren. If we can get them to do it, that will be a bigger gift than Christine O’Donnell in Delaware!

    When they finally vote, either the nomination carries or it doesn’t. If Liz makes it, great. If it doesn’t, we’ll nominate Ted Kauffman and let the Senate chew on that.

    ***********************

    Yves, it’s a wicked world and usually your saturnine disposition is well aligned with circumstances. But nice surprises do happen now and then.

  35. Ed

    “The hope placed in Ms. Warren reminds me of the closing days of WW2, as the Soviet armies moved in towards Berlin, where certain segments of senior German leadership put the same sort of irrational hope into the so called Army Detachment Steiner. Hitler kept telling his advisers not to worry because they would receive word of Steiner’s victory any moment now. In reality Steiner was outnumbered at least 10 to 1 but even this included troops that he could not move. In the end the only troops he could muster up were a couple battalions of SS police who did not even carry combat weapons.”

    This is a fun analogy. However, there is evidence that the senior Nazi leadership knew full well what was up, at least since the Bulge in the case of Hitler, and talked up things like “miracle weapons” and “army group Steiner” to keep up the morale of their followers. These things tend to happen in floundering organizations.

    After all, for the senior Nazis there was no reason not to fight it out to the very end, and then commit suicide. The only terms they could have surrendered on would have involved their arrest and later execution. But their followers, ordinary Germans, did have incentives to surrender early so they had to be convinced that the situation was not hopless.

    It is a little over the top to use this analogy for a consumer protection agency.

  36. MC

    If this is the person you (and most of the commenters here) fear is being played, I can’t agree less. She’s no fool.

    http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/warren-i-thought-we-were-brink-real-financ

    (its the Bill Maher hug inteview in case the link doesn’t work)

    She’s the one castrating, not the one being castrated, which seems to be the current meme.

    Jon Stewart wanted to make out with her more than a year ago , and would probably love to have another chance today.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-april-15-2009/elizabeth-warren-pt–1

    Me too.

    I suspect she’s not intimidated too much by her enemies, is not going to spare any of her valuable grey cells on Wash. strategic political calcs, and will leave it to O use his pol skills to use her.

    She’s the best ally the middle class (and our supporters)have. Relax. She has the gravitas (and the humor) to make them all look like fools.

    I’ll be thrilled if they have the idiocy to reject her.

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