The title of the latest attempt to sling more mud on Elizabeth Warren and her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was "Who's Watching the Watchmen?" But Democratic TARP and Oversight member Carolyn Maloney quipped today that it might more aptly have been named "Let's Pretend the Financial Crisis Never Happened."
And the Chairman of the Subcommittee had a typical Republican doublespeak of an opening statement too. "The American people have a right to know," Patrick McHenry (R-NC) was essentially complaining, "if the government is overreaching and unfairly protecting the American people by cracking down on the poor maligned banks and credit card companies!"
The nature of the Republican questioning of Warren today by Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), was typically inquisitorial. McHenry's first lame tactic was to accuse her of having the nerve to talk to state attorneys general and the Dept. of Justice over the mortgage fraud settlements, and doing so behind the Republicans' backs, and then committing perjury by omission! Apparently, he was under the mistaken impression that Warren needs Congressional okay before speaking with any government agency, and that she needs to report such discussions to him. In person, presumably. He pretty much accused her of lying to Congress. He repeatedly interrupted her attempts to answer his questions with the usual prosecutorial "It's either a yes or a no!"
(McHenry, incidentally, has reason to hate and fear Warren. He came under fire last year while he was "investigating" the Countrywide subprime mortgage scandal, and it turned out he had accepted $5500 from the Countrywide PAC for his reelection campaign, and kinda-sorta forgot to let anybody know. But Chris Dodd got a sweetheart deal from Countrywide too, so they couldn't very well give Dodd a pass and then pick on McHenry, could they?)
The hearing had originally been scheduled for Tuesday morning, but was delayed until afternoon because of Bibi Netanyahu's joint session of Congress address. Warren had another meeting scheduled, but agreed to answer questions for an hour. But when it came time for her to leave, a desperate McHenry (whose bullying questions had failed to break her), accused Warren of bailing out before her time was up. When she tried to explain that her truncated testimony had already been agreed to by his own staff, he shrilled: "You're making that up!"
As Warren sat there, her mouth agape, Democratic committee member Elijah Cummings calmly noted that McHenry was again accusing her of lying. McHenry sulkily backed down.
Earlier, Cummings had urged Warren to stay on in her position as head of the agency she had created after the financial meltdown of 2008. "I'm begging you to keep up the fight," he pleaded, noting that the full impact of the chicanery of the big deregulated banks had yet to be felt among his constituents. Houses are still being foreclosed, the unemployment rate is still sky high, the banks have yet to be held accountable. Warren's bureau is the only federal government agency to be focused exclusively on the consumer rights of families.
Cummings noted that while the banksters haul in an annual $59 billion in overdraft fees alone, the CFPB operates on a shoestring budget. Warren said that although the spending cap on the agency is $600 million, she expects it to operate for only half that amount next year.
Meanwhile, The New York Times was reporting that certain "Democratic officials" have been urging Warren to run against Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race next year rather than stay on in the Bureau. These officials naturally are anonymous. This might sound like somebody helping her get into politics, but to me it smells more like a gentle nudge under the bus, and a way to make her go quietly away. Her putative boss, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, has made no secret of his lack of enthusiasm for both her and the bureau. Wall Street is not interested in consumers. Geithner is obviously not interested in consumers. Watch out for attempted "bipartisan compromises" down the road.
And watch out for next week, when Obama will have a golden opportunity to recess-appoint Warren during the Senate vacation. Congressional Democrats have already written him a letter urging him to do just that. This is one of those times to hold the president's feet to the fire as he has so famously urged his "base" to do. And Warren herself has stated she has no plans to run for any political office. She is staying right where she is.
And well she should. She is as popular in the U.S. as Obama apparently is in Ireland. Since a primary challenge to him now seems out of the question, there is always 2016. She would win in a landslide. NY State Attorney General Eric Scheiderman might be a shoo-in too. Between the two of them, we have many fat little bankster rolling heads to look forward to. But watch out too for even more Republican smear campaigns while we're waiting for the roll-o-rama.
|She's Not Going Anywhere|
McHenry later told Politico he was shocked at what he called Warren's "blatant sense of entitlement". The MSM, let me add, is spinning this story as a spat between Warren and McHenry. I watched the whole hearing and can attest that this North Carolina boor of a man had it out for her from the get-go: he essentially called her a liar a few minutes into the testimony, was rude and hardly allowed her to answer a single question. If anything dragged the proceedings out, it was McHenry's grandstanding. I don't think I could have been as cool and civil as Elizabeth Warren. Watch the whole thing on C-Span and decide for yourself.
Update II 5/25 -- here is a petition going to President Obama asking that he recess-appoint Elizabeth Warren: