Note on Elizabeth Warren

This post caught my attention, and worth holding in mind as regulation develops.

After several weeks of officially pleasant interactions, signs are emerging that the Treasury Department’s knives may be coming out against Elizabeth Warren. In recent weeks, Treasury officials have leaked details about Warren to Politico as part of what appears to be an effort to paint her as some kind of prima donna. These relatively silly stories raise troubling questions, however, about what Treasury officials may be leaking with fewer fingerprints and greater ramifications.

The Politico pieces have been petty, but there’s no doubt they both came from Treasury. On Oct. 12, Politico ran a piece featuring this anonymous nugget (among others):

If Treasury is indeed behind the Date hit-piece, there could be no real question about Geithner’s machinations. Trash-talking Warren, her top advisers and the CFPB itself would be an unmistakable effort to compromise the entire enterprise. If it worked, Geithner could deny Warren the formal nomination as CFPB director, Warren would go the way of Brooksley Born, and less consumer-friendly officials could quietly crush the young agency.

That would be a shame, since a strong CFPB headed by Warren is the signature accomplishment of the Wall Street reform bill Obama signed this summer. Whatever its other shortcomings, the legislation created the opportunity to level the playing field between bigwig bankers and ordinary citizens and strengthen the financial security of American households.
That’s a big if, of course. But reformers will be watching Treasury very closely from here on out.

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