This is a joke. Politico is floating the idea that notorious Wall Street crony Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., could be tapped to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau if she loses her close election with Republican Joe Walsh. Even for Politico’s rumor-mill, this is pretty funny stuff—only slightly less absurd than suggesting that Alan Greenspan might be picked to head the new agency.
The idea just gets a single paragraph in Politico’s Morning Money column, and it even features an administration official shooting down the idea. With good reason, because it makes no sense. President Barack Obama went to the mat to put Elizabeth Warren in charge of the CFPB, and she is doing a terrific job setting up the agency. She’s named one of the world’s best researchers on consumer finance, Raj Date, as a top adviser, and has started cracking down on deceptive fine print in credit card contracts. There’s no reason to replace her with anybody, much less a notorious consumer foe.
Melissa Bean is probably the single greatest consumer antagonist in the Democratic Party. As financial reform moved through Congress, Bean repeatedly slipped in amendments aggressively defending Wall Street’s right to pillage our pocketbooks. She single-handedly held up negotiations in the House Financial Services Committee for months, hamstringing the reform process and earning plenty of enemies in the Democratic leadership and the Democratic base. She is simply unconfirmable.
Fortunately, Obama doesn’t need to do much looking to find a good CFPB director. He’s already got the best person for the job, Elizabeth Warren, steadily building a record of effectiveness getting the agency off the ground. When the time comes to name a permanent CFPB director, that record, along with Warren’s decades of work protecting the middle class, will make a very compelling case for her appointment. To be sure, the Republican leadership will filibuster whoever Obama nominates, but Warren already has strong relationships on Capitol Hill with members of both parties, and is extremely popular with the public. If anyone can survive a Republican filibuster, Warren can.
Here’s the silly plant in Politico:
MELISSA BEAN FLOATED AS CFPB HEAD – Buzz on Friday had Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) possibly getting tapped as the first Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head depending on the outcome of her too-close-to-call reelection race, in which Republican Joe Walsh maintained a slight lead as of Sunday afternoon. But a possible Bean nomination is not sitting well with reformers on the left who say the moderate Illinois congresswoman is far too close to the banking industry. Said one administration official: “It’s not clear she would be acceptable to the reformers.”