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Elizabeth Warren: Moses and the Promised Land

July 28, 2011

This is a guest post by FogOfWar

In Biblical style, Elizabeth Warren (EW) was not nominated to head the CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau).  Having spearheaded the movement to create the institution, pushed to make it part of the otherwise-generally-useless* Dodd Frank “Financial Reform” Bill, and spent the better part of the last two years staffing the actual CFPB and moving it into gear, she has now been deemed too controversial by what passes for a President these days.

One of my favorite EW quotes: “My first choice is a strong consumer agency.  My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”  This still remains to be seen, as opposition to the CPFB (and filibuster threats to any appointment to head the Bureau) remains in the face of nominee Richard Cordray.  In fact, if one were inclined to be an Obama apologist (I gave up apologizing for Obama right about here), one might view the Warren-Cordray switch as a potentially brilliant tactical maneuver, with the emphasis on “potentially”.  If the opposition to the CPFB took its persona in EW, then sidestepping her personally to get the agency up and running would be worthwhile, particularly as Cordray seems at least as assertively pro-consumer as EW (a bank lobbyist described him as “Elizabeth Warren without the charm”).

Barney Frank believes gender bias played a role.  Maybe yes, maybe no and the Cordray confirmation will give some evidence to that question.  I suspect the Republican opposition isn’t stupid and knows that Cordray will run a good agency.  If that’s right then passing over EW doesn’t really serve any purpose.

Hard to tell what a public figure is really like, but my sense is EW doesn’t have any ego attached to running the agency personally.  And what she does next is really up to her, I mean who really cares what we think she should do?

Wait—this is a blog!  Our Raison d’être is practically making suggestions that no one will listen to, so let’s go…

1.     Run for Congress

The biggest idea floated around.  Yves Smith thinks it’s a terrible idea. I’m not entirely convinced—there are many ways to make a difference in this world, and being one minority member of a large and powerful body, and thus moving the body incrementally in the right direction can be a very good thing.

Two questions though: can she win (a few early stage polls seemed to indicate no, but do early stage polls really have much predictive value on final election results?  Cathy?  Fivethirtyeight?), and on which party platform would she run (I vote for running as an Independent)?  Any thoughts from the ground from our MA-registered voters?

2.     The “Al Gore” option

EW could continue to advocate, lecture and write outside of political office.  She’s good television and would be free to speak without the gag order of elected office.  Definitely something to be said for this option.  Just realized pulling links for this post that EW was the person from the movie “Maxed Out”.  Part of me thinks “damn that was effective and she should do more of that because it was so effective” and part of me thinks “wait, that movie came out in 2006 and no one listened and no one will listen”, and then the other part goes “but it can happen—you’ve actually seen social perceptions change in the wake of Al Gore (and yes, lots and lots of other people, but sparks do matter) with real and deep impacts.”

3.     The “Colin Powell” option

Y’now, being in the public light kinda sucks ass.  Colin Powell passed up a run for President, and largely retired to private life, and doesn’t seem to have any complaints about it.  One legitimate option is to say “I did my part, you guys fight the good fight & I’m going to hang out with my grandkids on the beach.”

Any other suggestions?

*-Paul Volker deserves a parallel post of equal length for pushing the Volker Rule through this legislation and similarly receiving the thanks of being sidelined by the TBTF bank-capital-must-increase-even-if-the-peasants-have-to-eat-cake crowd.

Categories: finance, FogOfWar, news, rant
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