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Obama Names Elizabeth Warren to Head Consumer Agency

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Although the news made headlines Thursday, the official announcement didn’t come until Friday: Elizabeth Warren is the top cop at the new consumer financial protection bureau she originally proposed back in 2007, charged with setting it up and getting things rolling.
She hasn’t hesitated to take the reins, either, blogging this morning on the White House blog that she “enthusiastically accepted” the post and is “confident that I will have the tools I need to get the job done.”
While President Obama’s choice was widely lauded by consumer organizations and numerous Democrats and even Republicans who have spoken out in the past weeks to support her, the appointment didn’t come without questions and disappointments.
First, her title is Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The appointment itself is a temporary thing, not the five-year permanent director slot; many of those on both sides of the issue are critical of the appointment, regarding it as an “end run” around a Senate-confirmed appointment (notwithstanding language in the Dodd-Frank bill that allows just such a method of appointment).
Second, some Democrats and consumer advocates are disappointed not to have a showdown over the nomination of a person widely regarded to be the best qualified for the job. They’re also disappointed that her position is not the long-term, outright head of the bureau that they’d hoped for.
And third, many don’t seem to know exactly what Warren will do in this setting-up phase—but, in answer to that, she is charged with getting the bureau going, and then running it until a permanent appointment is made.
Warren is also charged with leading the search to find the right person to run the bureau long term—and there is already talk of her “pulling a Dick Cheney,” choosing herself for the permanent post once everything is up and running. But according to Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., she doesn’t want the job permanently, although she hasn’t said outright that she’d refuse the appointment.
However it works out, Republicans are “ hopping mad” at the notion that Warren will be in charge, though they’ve been expressing their ire at the idea of President Obama appointing her without going through Senate confirmation (and a probable Republican filibuster). The financial world likely isn’t too happy either; her no-nonsense, get-tough-on-behalf-of-the-little-guy attitude does not sit well with banks and other institutions she’ll be riding herd on.