ABC News is reporting that President Barack Obama will appoint Elizabeth Warren to a “special advisory” position to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We don’t know the details, but so far, this seems very suspicious.
As I wrote yesterday, Obama has several options for getting Warren into the CFPB slot if he wants to, and two that don’t require Senate confirmation. But the ABC story’s language of “an assistant or counselor to both the president and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner” is extremely disappointing. Maybe ABC is simply confused and using these phrases in places where the rest of the press has been using the word “interim,” but the impression from the article is that Warren is not getting the job. If that’s the case, it’s tremendously disappointing to liberals and conservatives alike– and uplifting for the CEOs of Wall Street’s biggest banks.
Everybody knows Warren is the right person for the job if Obama actually cares about protecting consumers. Appointing anybody else is a serious blow to the Wall Street reform bill– the CFPB is the best thing about the legislation, and if Obama doesn’t intend to appoint the best candidate to the head the new agency, it says something very unpleasant about his motivations regarding the bill. Shirking Warren would make a farce of the whole Wall Street reform enterprise, and would be a transparent giveaway to the bank lobby. Let me repeat: Obama doesn’t need Senate confirmation to get Warren on the job today. Political expediency is not an acceptable excuse.
But we’ll see what happens when details emerge. This may be the best economic news all year.