Today’s output from Blogistan Polytechnic Institute’s state-of-the-art HEMMED (High-Energy Meta Mojo Elucidation Detector) machine is a stern warning to right-wing politicians: quit picking on Elizabeth Warren. Now.
We progressives are gentle folk. We are happy when we see progress on our issues: when we see people matter more than profits and when we see Good Government working towards that goal.
We were disappointed when we didn’t get single-payer health care but we saw 30 million people uninsured and we were unwilling to sacrifice them on the altar of purity. We were disappointed when finananclal reform stopped short of what most of us felt we needed but we were willing to accept the Dodd-Frank financial reforms as the best we could get because, as we found, the only ones hurt by a global financial meltdown are the little people.
But Progressives have heroes and we do not take kindly to them being attacked. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Senator Al Franken of Minnesota and Professor Elizabeth Warren, currently an Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Elizabeth Warren’s lecture in 2007 at UC Berkeley entitled The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class: Higher Risks, Lower Rewards and the Shrinking Safety Net” set the stage for her entry into the national debate on the financial industry.
In November 2008, she was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to oversee TARP funds, or in fancy government talk to “chair the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act.”
Professor Warren burst onto the national scene with her appearances on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart in April 2009 and again in January 2010 and received accolades for her blunt assessment of our current financial situation. From an interview in Newsweek, December 7, 2009 :
To restore some basic sanity to the financial system, we need two central changes: fix broken consumer-credit markets and end guarantees for the big players that threaten our entire economic system. If we get those two key parts right, we can still dial the rest of the regulation up and down as needed. But if we don’t get those two right, I think the game is over. I hate to sound alarmist, but that’s how I feel about this.
Well, of course, when you want to fix something and the fixing requires pushing back against “big players” you are going to make some “big enemies.”
Many of us believe that the best person to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the person who conceived of it, promoted it and essentially sold it to Congress and the president. But it turns out, please sit down as this may shock you, Republicans do not like her. In fact from the moment the CFPB was discussed and then eventually created by the Dodd-Frank Act, Wall Street and its protectors have been working, first, to defund the CFPB and second, to make sure that its strongest advocate gets nowhere near it. So President Obama appointed Professor Warren as a special assistant to him and to Secretary of Treasurer Timothy Geithner, a position that required no nomination or confirmation.
Now it is 2011 and Republicans have control of the House of Representatives and a larger presence in the Senate. And since, as Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) famously said, “the banks own this joint,” forty-four Republican senators said they would not confirm anyone to head the bureau without changes to “curb its power and independence.”
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the Frank of Dodd-Frank, said this about that:
Frank, speaking to reporters, said the announcement by the Republicans has freed President Barack Obama to ignore them and name a CFPB director during a Senate recess, which would avoid the difficult confirmation process. “I assume they will now make a recess appointment,” he said.
Senator Al Franken and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee are asking for the recess appointment. Even the head of the Oklahoma Banker’s Association someone who called Professor Warren the “anti-christ” is pushing for her recess appointment.
And it is not just the Consumer Financial Protection Bureua that Republicans hate. This pretty much explains it all in a nutshell:
The CFPB, like Dodd-Frank overall, was a response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis that devastated world markets and the U.S. economy, dragging the nation into a deep recession and leading to massive taxpayer bailouts of banks.
The same banks that took the bailouts, many of them again profitable, are now lobbying hard on Capitol Hill to reduce the impact of Dodd-Frank on their business models, which include mortgage and credit card lending and derivatives.
Another part of Dodd-Frank that Wall Street fiercely opposes is the first-ever attempt to comprehensively regulate the $600 trillion off-exchange derivatives market.
A Republican-controlled House panel last week approved a measure that would block these regulations for 18 months.
The problem is not just that the Senate won’t confirm Elizabeth Warren as head of CFPB but they refuse to confirm anyone because without a formal director, the CFPB is limited in what actions it can take. The CFPB is supposed to start its operations by July 21st and the banksters hope to run the clock out.
So with financial reform being held hostage, Democrats are clamoring for a recess appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the new agency. True to form, Senate Republicans are now strategizing on how to block a recess appointment:
Republicans are eyeing a tactic [of holding] “pro forma sessions” — short sessions during which no business is conducted — that prevents the Senate from being considered in “recess.” …
If Obama were to recess-appoint a CFPB director, Republicans could also hold up any other financial services nominees. A slate of several nominations, including the heads of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is expected soon.
So there you have it.
We find a true champion for We The People. The Republicans, realizing that Elizabeth Warren is their worst nightmare: a smart woman who is not afraid to use the word ‘plutocracy’ and willing to explain to everyone what it means to them, do everything in their power to block her.
But wait there is more!
It is not enough to block progress for the middle class and for consumers, it is important to insult her and call her a liar at a congressional hearing. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who has serious long-tie syndrome, went after Professor Warren by claiming that she lied about her schedule.
I see. You can’t attack her on the merits because she is a distinguished professor (and a state champion debater when she was 16 years old!). And you can’t really attack her on what you want to attack her on: that she is an uppity woman and “just why aren’t you home taking care of your husband, Mrs. Warren?” so they attack her on a scheduling issue. She told the committee and its belligerent chairman that time was up:
The contentious meeting ended with McHenry and Warren bickering over how long Warren was scheduled to testify, with McHenry explicitly accusing Warren of being a liar.
“You are causing problems. We had an agreement for a later hearing,” Warren told McHenry, as the video above shows. After some back-and-forth, McHenry said, “You’re making this up Miss Warren.” The comment prompted a look of shock from Warren.
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) came to Warren’s defense, telling McHenry, “I’m trying to be cordial here, but you just accused the lady of lying.”
Note the use of “Miss” Warren for the distinguished professor from Harvard? I would call the dweebish dolt McHenry names but that would be unseemly. So instead I will say this.
Now it is personal and personally I will do everything I can to insure that Mr. McHenry is never again chairman of a House committee by rededicating my efforts to returning the People’s House to the people.
Thursday Friday to everyone and fist bumps!
The BPI Campus Progressive agenda:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.
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