|Fighting the Good Fight|
Despite huge popular support, Warren may even be in danger of losing her job as well as the whole bureau. According to a report from Reuters, there are still those within the Obama Administration who think she is too controversial a choice to lead the agency she created. Translation: they're afraid of her and her growing citizen-backed power. If Obama has any guts, he'll publicly come to her defense, forget about a stupid Senate confirmation battle, and name her via a recess appointment He is kind of in a sticky situation, now that he's running for re-election and trying to hypnotize people into thinking he's a born-again progressive. Now is his chance to prove it, or at least make a good-faith effort at proving it. He does know how to use the bully pulpit when he wants to. Witness his impassioned speech castigating Paul Ryan's roadmap to perdition. Although a recess appointment for Warren would be temporary, it would give her that much more time to dig in until a Senate confirmation is mandated in another year.
But all is not smooth in The White House. There is disagreement among Barack Obama's aides over whether it would be "wise" for him to take on a highly visible fight over either a recess appointment or a confirmation for Warren in the U.S. Senate. Not surprisingly, she has run into some really nasty opposition from Republicans who say she would be too confrontational toward the financial industry. But there are also some Democrats in the mix of foes. Among them, reportedly, is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has been pointedly lukewarm toward her from the get-go. Geithner, former chairman of the New York Fed, has long been viewed as a loyal friend of Wall Street. He has in several interviews damned her with faint praise, with nonchalant remarks to the effect of she is a fine woman... she would make a fine chairman... she is definitely on the short list. But never a ringing endorsement, not by a long stretch.
So now, anonymous Administration sources are saying, the talk revolves around appointing an "associate" of Warren in yet another Obama Compromise, aka capitulation.But picking anyone other than Warren could be problematic and could lead to an immediate revolt from "The Base", according to Reuters
On the Republican side, there are two bills pending in the House of Representatives that aim to "defang" the agency, Warren says. The first, sponsored by Spencer Bachus (R-AL), chairman of the Financial Services Committee, would transform the CFPB leadership into a five-person board, thus diluting its power. The second, promulgated by Wisconsin Rep.Sean Duffy, would in turn make a bipartisan, separate agency approved by the same Financial Services Committee and Congress the regulator of Warren's agency. They are not even trying to hide their cynical collusion.
Warren, a Harvard professor who headed a panel that investigated government bank bailouts during the financial crisis, has been mentioned as a possible candidate to challenge Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown, who must seek re-election in 2012. So far, though, Brown's poll numbers are looking good. If I were advising Warren, I'd tell her to stay right where she is and fight. We have her back. Besides, the Obama administration would probably love nothing more than for her to resign and challenge Brown.... and just go away. Elizabeth Warren has been around long enough to know how the game is played. The fact that she's stuck it out this long in the cutthroat world of Inside the Beltway speaks volumes for her power and influence.
And the fact is that the powerful men who are lashing out at her are only serving to betray their own fears and insecurities. They are eminently vulnerable.
P.S. Thanks to Kate and Valerie for reminding me to cover this.
P.P.S. Links in Comments don't work, (thanks again Valerie) so here is where to find the members of the House Financial Services Committee:
Update 4/30 -- The subcommittee hearings on the proposed legislation will be held on May 4 beginning at 10 a.m. Details can be found here.