As M. would say, “Is the Pope Catholic?” ~J
Photo: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Right about now, Republicans in Congress may be wishing that they had let President Barack Obama appoint Elizabeth Warren as the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the organization that is her brainchild. They won the battle – preventing her appointment to that job – but seem to have lost the war, as Warren won a Senate seat last month. Now, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is said to be intent on adding her to the roster of Democrats on the Senate’s powerful Banking Committee.
Warren is a pragmatist and a lawyer, more reserved than Frank and more cautious (albeit less witty) in her public pronouncements. Odds are that centrist Republicans will find her collegial. That’s one threat to those who remain vehemently opposed to further implementation of the Dodd-Frank reforms or any other banking regulation. Warren joins the Senate just as Barney Frank – another Massachusetts Democrat, one of the most influential members of the House Financial Services Committee and co-author of the much-hated Dodd-Frank bank reform legislation – leaves. But for Republicans and bankers, replacing Frank with Warren might be more than just replacing one ideological adversary with another.
As a member of the Senate committee, Warren would have a hand in crafting new rules or closing perceived gaps in existing ones. She could simply use her stature to push for more sweeping reforms (breaking up the big banks, say) or to fight back against those who want to block future changes, such as, say, taxing carried interest at the same levels as regular income. (Currently, it is taxed at a much lower level, a fact that has helped make multi-millionaires and billionaires of many buyout fund managers.)
She may be a neophyte in the halls of Congress – she hasn’t even been sworn in yet – but Warren commands respect for her critique of Wall Street. That has populist appeal across party lines among the electorate. Republican lawmakers may have sneered when she declared at the Democratic National Convention this year that “the system is rigged” and blasted Wall Street CEOs for continuing to “strut” around Washington “demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.” But that message may resonate with grassroots GOP voters, even if they differ in their prescriptions to solve the problem.
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