A home run for our side

by: Mike Lux

Thu Sep 16, 2010 at 10:31


I have beaten up on the Obama White House enough that I'm no longer very welcome by many of the top staffers there, and on no issue have I been tougher on them than on their policies regarding dealing with the biggest banks and the TARP program. This morning, though, I am all smiles, delighted to my core, because the reports, confirmed multiple times, about the appointment of Elizabeth Warren are a big home run.

I am more than a little biased, because Elizabeth has become a good friend over the past few years, and because I have rarely seen the kinds of guts and tough bargaining strategy that I watched her show during the financial reform fight and the TARP oversight work. She publicly and repeatedly faced down Tim Geithner on a series of major issues around TARP and the overall handling of the financial crisis. She privately went nose to nose with Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and Treasury during negotiations over the financial reform bill. She had to time and again back Dodd down when he was getting ready to make bad compromises on the consumer agency. (Why do you think Dodd has fought so hard to keep Warren from being nominated?) She is the real deal, a fighter for middle class and poor families through and through.

Now, some progressives are arguing this joint appointment to the White House and Treasury is somehow a weak attempt to fool us, that Warren is being given the job as window dressing but will have no real power. The people arguing that just don't know Elizabeth very well, or understand what motivates her. I do not believe for a minute that she would meekly accept a powerless window dressing job, or would put up with it very long if that is what it turned into. She has never been interested in being in government for the sake of a title, and she isn't going to start now. The impressive thing is that I think Obama understands that, too, and gave her the job anyway.

For Elizabeth, the options here were the choice of basically being put on ice for several months at least during an extended confirmation battle, a time where she couldn't speak out or do any actual work on the agency while Geithner was free to start building it any way he wanted; being at Treasury reporting solely to Geithner, who I believe would do everything he could to undermine and disempower her; or this intriguing combination of working with Treasury to craft the agency while also reporting directly to the President. I don't know exactly how this deal went down, but it looks to me like Elizabeth helped craft something that might actually work in her mission to help consumers in dealing with the big banks. She always has the option of walking away if it doesn't- and knowing her, she would have the guts to do just that.

I think this is one time when we can give Obama credit for doing the right thing. Wall Street was determined in its opposition, and establishment insiders like Dodd did everything they could to derail Elizabeth from having any role in creating this agency. But the progressive movement fought like crazy to make this happen, Elizabeth showed her usual savvy and toughness once again, and the President did the right thing.

And here's the deal: this really does matter. I am constantly frustrated by the brain dead politics and corporate oriented policies of many of the people in the Democratic party, but there remain two reasons I still work hard to get Democrats elected. The first is that the Republicans scare the hell out of me with their extremism, but the second is that at least some of the time, Democrats who really care about working people and the poor do get placed in positions of power. Cecilia Munoz being the one to negotiate with Governors over how poor people are treated under government programs in the states matters. Melody Barnes playing a role in the crafting of domestic programs in the federal budget matters. Hilda Solis being in charge of running OSHA matters in terms of workers safety. And Elizabeth Warren being given the job of building an agency to make sure consumers are treated fairly by the big banks who dominate our country's economy is a very big deal.

This is a great day for America's working families, and we should celebrate.  

Mike Lux :: A home run for our side

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home run? (4.00 / 5)
It's a little premature to do a victory dance over this.  

Warren was not named director, or even interim director.  She was named adviser.  Let's see if she gets any actual powers.  Let's also see if she's still in this made-up position after the 2010 elections.

I think this was just a lame attempt to excite the justifiably unenthusiastic Dem base.


Nonsense. (0.00 / 0)
As said elsewhere:

In fact, and I'm saying this first i think, the delay in appointing Ms. Warren is partly due to Ms. Warrens strong negotiating skills in making sure that this isn't just an agency under Gietner, isn't just a title. She seems to have insisted on systems to give her access directly to the President, and on top, was made a Special Advisor to the President.

I am sure.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
my point (4.00 / 1)
Let's take a wait and see attitude before shouting for joy.

[ Parent ]
I am alread shouting with joy. (0.00 / 0)
Sorry for jumping the gun. I will wait the next time.

Wee and all that.  

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
A point D-Day makes at some length (4.00 / 5)
I know it's deeply unsatisfying, but we're going to have to wait and see rather than make a snap judgment about this Elizabeth Warren appointment. Mainly because it's hard to decipher just what's going on...

http://news.firedoglake.com/20...

But those people who normally criticize people for snap judgments in response to White House actions now implore us to make snap judgments.  


[ Parent ]
And.... (4.00 / 5)
Conservatives are already calling her a banking "czar." The Obama administration is suggesting that she'll help "get the new federal agency standing." But there's still a great deal of confusion, both on the Hill and in the Obama administration about what Elizabeth Warren's new role as consumer protection adviser will be. Will she be a de facto director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau? Or will her powers be limited and subservient to the Treasury Secretary? Nobody seems to know.

After a Senate vote today, three key Senators -- including Warren supporters and detractors -- admitted to not knowing what Warren's new job will entail.

Asked by TPM whether he knew what Warren's role will be, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd answered simply, "No."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) -- a strong Warren backer -- is cautiously optimistic.

"That is a very good question," Sanders said when TPM asked if he understood what Warren's new job really is. "And the answer is no. And that is not insignificant."

"The real question is: Will she be in a powerful position to protect consumers against Wall Street greed?" Sanders said. "And if she is, it will be probably the very best appointment that President Obama has made...but you're right, the devil remains in the details."

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo...

Bu hey, Lux wants to celebrate. Who and I to stop him.



[ Parent ]
Absolutely - first Obama lowered expectations... (4.00 / 5)
Bet Bush is kicking himself he didn't use this one! (So far as I can recall.)

But - home run? Only conceivably by reference to Obama's pretty dismal performance to date with nominations.

Of course, GOP guerilla warfare has gummed up the works pretty good. Plus - the Senate Dems are not exactly a counterinsurgency force to reckon with.

But my strong impression is that Obama's hardly stepped up to the plate with bully pulpit backed by mass recess appointments, as he would if it was a priority. And the Dawn Johnsen saga was a series of teachable moments.

Overall, I'd call Warren a bunt single from Obama - perhaps the sign of future innovative aggression, but I'm not holding my breath.


[ Parent ]
or foul? (4.00 / 5)
Yves Smith agrees with you.

However, the end game seems obvious: keep her in orbit through mid-terms to prevent a hissy fit from her many fans, then name a more bank friendly permanent director (the argument no doubt being that her effectiveness is compromised by her not being confirmed, and with the odds high that the elections will put more Republicans in Senate seats, the Administration will argue its hands are tied).

...

Will Warren last? Both Brooksley Born and Sheila Bair have been accused of not being team players. With the team being industry cronies, that's a badge of honor. But each also had a clear bureaucratic role, and Born was still pushed out. I'm surprised Warren is accepting such a compromised position. Perhaps she believes she still has a bully pulpit and can embarrass the Administration into doing the right thing. But it will take a very thick skin for her to follow that course of action.

I know where I'd put my money.


[ Parent ]
This is dispiriting... (4.00 / 10)
I have beaten up on the Obama White House enough that I'm no longer very welcome by many of the top staffers there...

... for what it suggests about the Obama White House and progressives as a whole.  I can understand why I, and others who might think like me, would be unwelcome, but to imagine you unwelcome is to suggest no dissension - no matter how reasoned or fairly offered - is tolerated.  This level of insularity, and compartmentalization - from within - leaves me simply depressed.

Lasciate ogni speranza, voi ch'entrate.


That was my first thought as well (0.00 / 0)


[ Parent ]
+100 (4.00 / 6)
Yep. At this point, given that crew, being disowned by them should be a badge of courage, not something to lament.

After reading Bill McKibben's piece on his ill-fated "meeting" with the WH over one friggin' solar panel, it's clear those people are just too corrupt to care about anything at all. They're done, IMO.

http://www.commondreams.org/vi...

One after another, respectfully but firmly, they asked a series of tough questions, and refused to be filibustered by yet another stream of administration-enhancing data. Here's what they wanted to know: if the administration was serious about spreading the word on renewable energy, why wouldn't it do the obvious thing and put solar panels on the White House?  When the administrators proudly proffered a clipping from some interior page of the Washington Post about their "greening the government initiative," Amanda calmly pointed out that none of her neighbors read the Post, and that, by contrast, the solar panels had made it onto David Letterman.

To their queries, the bureaucrats refused to provide any answer.  At all.  One kept smiling in an odd way and saying, "If reporters call and ask us, we will provide our rationale," but whatever it was, they wouldn't provide it to us.

(emphasis mine)

And yet, they've got Joltin' Joe Biden on Maddow, exhorting us to "get it in gear, man!"

What planet are they living on?  

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
I couldn't agree more, Mike. (4.00 / 1)
This is phenomenal news.  The evidence that she has the potential to have influence is demonstrated by Dodd's furious and really disgusting campaign to shut her out completely.  He must be sh*tting his pants about now--his Wall Street handlers are going to be none too happy with his failure.

Wall Street to Chris Dodd: (4.00 / 2)
< Darth Vader voice > You have failed us for the last time, Senator.

[ Parent ]
Oh, for goodness sakes (4.00 / 12)
Nice straw man. No one is arguing that

she would meekly accept a powerless window dressing job

Some are arguing that she might not effectively have control of the bureau, a possibility you yourself acknowledge when you say:

I do not believe for a minute that she would meekly accept a powerless window dressing job, or would put up with it very long if that is what it turned into.

Way to argue both sides the argument. The position has real power! Unless it doesn't, in which case she'll leave.

There was an opportunity under the law to name her interim chief, an opportunity he didn't take -- would someone explain why?

Fact is, good strong people take compromised jobs all the time because, well, they think they'll be better than not having the job. They hope that with sharp elbows and they can create a power base and access the president's ear, only to discover otherwise a few months down the road. I can't believe I have to tell you, Mike, self-avowed insider, how government works.

No one one knows exactly what kind of power she'll have, but history of the past two year should tell us not to cheer but to keep our eyes open and listen to the critics. When it comes to Obama and Wall Street, they've been right every time.


Might I add that this kind of sentiment makes me (4.00 / 4)
want to vomit:

The people arguing that just don't know Elizabeth very well, or understand what motivates her

I'm right, and they're wrong, because I know her!


[ Parent ]
I am sure you can find a better theme to argue with your skills Mr. Mizner. (0.00 / 0)
This boat has sailed. It did happen, its put in place after strong negotiations, by the person we wanted doing the negotiation, Ms. Warren, and it has resulted in the end we wanted.

And if things change (or were always going to change because its all hopeless) she would, if we know as well as we think we do, and I think we do (do dee do) she will resign informatively, letting us all know why.

Find something worthy of your obvious skills DM, this isnt it.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Unresponsive, your honor (4.00 / 3)
You use the same argument Lux does.

1. The position has power!

2. Unless it doesn't! (Unless that is, the people I'm ostensibly arguing with are correct)

3. In which case she'll quit, because "we" know her.

Laughable.  


[ Parent ]
But sir, If Ms. Warren is the person we want (got that?) (0.00 / 0)
Then -> she will have done due diligence to ensure that she has doen everything she can to make the job worthwhile.

The "evidence" requires that our demand that she be appointed to a powerful position is accurate in its knowledge that Ms. Warren is worth appointing.

If she is not worth appointing then our evidence is as you attempt to simplify, not worth spit. But, I think Ms. Warren is worth appointing, as do so many, perhaps even you, and so, because she has given evidence in the past of being a tough negotiator, have given evidence in the past of being disappointed in the "actual power" that job titles given by this congress, so is probably not going to allow herself to be used again.

But, and this isnt a contradiction its Washington, if she decides that "its all hopeless" she will act as we expect her to, and resign informatively.

Really, its sailed, its over. We have work to do, we need your help, get back to work.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
Worth appointing? (4.00 / 2)
Hell, yes.

Right now I'm supporting her for president in 2012.  


[ Parent ]
Work on that then, (0.00 / 0)
If she is worthy of your efforts to make her President, surely you can trust her to this well? I do.

You can read this NYT article on the appointment here..
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09...
It says much of what has been discussed, but edges closer to the theme that she was heavily involved in the negotiations that allowed her to accept this, even suggesting that she got a lot

Ms. Warren will be named an assistant to the president, a designation that is held by senior White House staff members, including Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I have noted the error of troll rating my coment Mr Filler. (0.00 / 0)
Cut it the hell out.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, it was stupid of me. (4.00 / 1)
Fixed the ratings.

[ Parent ]
Thanks. (0.00 / 0)


--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
I am sure you can find a better theme to argue with your skills Mr. Mizner. (0.00 / 0)
This boat has sailed. It did happen, its put in place after strong negotiations, by the person we wanted doing the negotiation, Ms. Warren, and it has resulted in the end we wanted.

And if things change (or were always going to change because its all hopeless) she would, if we know as well as we think we do, and I think we do (do dee do) she will resign informatively, letting us all know why.

Find something worthy of your obvious skills DM, this isnt it.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
You ask the crucial question (4.00 / 3)
There was an opportunity under the law to name her interim chief, an opportunity he didn't take -- would someone explain why?

And I'll be waiting for those who see a home run to answer it. Everything positive they see could have been realized by this path. The path was written into the law to avoid the nomination battle, the reason given to justify the path taken.

There's a lot going on that I do not see or understand, no doubt. But this question needs a persuasive answer before I'm going to admire this long ball.

Did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees? Hot air for a cool breeze? And cold comfort for change?


[ Parent ]
Yes. I am sure enough of Ms. Warren that Mike's recap seems (4.00 / 1)
to written so as to be not too hard on the WH.

Warren obviously negotiated this situation herself, with direct access to the President (being made a Special Advisor on top of it all) and not just Geitner (ew).

I am sure that part of the delay in making the appointment was Ms. Warrens negotiating skills.

This is a home run day.

Well penned article Mike. And good news too.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


No, this is first base. (4.00 / 5)
None of the actual WORK has yet to take place. The Home Run would be the actual creation of a non-dysfunctional, non-corrupt agency that genuinely works along the lines the Esteemed Ms. Warren would insist on.

None of that has happened, ergo, no Home Run, just a base hit. There's still a great chance they'll just strike out, stranding her on first base.

Fact is, the WH could have simply made a recess appointment and be done with it. Instead, they created a new position out of whole cloth, with a wholly different job description. We don't know any of the details about any of it.

What the WH did was get this question off their plate for November. That's it. That way, after the election, they can go back to business as usual. Or at least that's what their record suggests.

We don't know and we won't know until something actually happens. Given past performance, there's precisely no evidence to justify anything positive of this move. It rather looks to be the opposite to me and I think Yves Smith is spot-on in her own interpretation.  

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Thank you for this reminder to be careful and wary (0.00 / 0)
I would be wary even if people whom I have agreed with the past took office, even if friends took office.

It is our duty to be wary.

But I am also very pleased. Although, yes it is a home run.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
It's just too soon to tell. That's all I'm saying. (4.00 / 3)
She could be sidelined and used as window dressing. She would quit in that case.

So let's wait and see who actually gets tapped for Director. Let's see if that's yet another Wall Street crony. Let's see how Turbo Timmeh handles this--he's very hostile towards Warren. Let's see if this agency even gets funded.

To me, an HR suggests all that is done.

So while I don't want you to be unhappy (I'm not exactly displeased myself), I just caution against counting the chickens before they roost. This should have been dealt with months ago.

Indeed, it seems appropriate to only ramp up pressure now, since the WH seems to be feeling some. With this administration, any opportunity to force the issue should be seized, since they don't listen the rest of the time.

I'm hoping they manage to do the right thing for once.  

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Indeed, that's the point! And it's problematic. (0.00 / 0)
Because, after all, as an adviser, Warren will have NO REAL AUTHORITY to give orders to anyone in that agency. But when you create a new bureaucracy from scratch, it's one decision after another to get things started. How shall this work, when nobody is obligated to do what the alleged agency chief wants? That's really a strange, unprecended way of doing this, and it's very questionable if this will work out (or even intended to work out)!

[ Parent ]
Isn't that exactly what she's doing now? (4.00 / 1)
I do not believe for a minute that she would meekly accept a powerless window dressing job, or would put up with it very long if that is what it turned into.

Countless times her public insights as to things that needed to be done were accompanied by her complaints that her present position gave her no power to do anything about it.

Now we're told that she'd never take that sort of position?  Except for the one she currently has?


Let's find out! (4.00 / 7)
I was going to suggest we wait and see.  But seeing how Mike actually knows Warren, I suggest something better.  Let's ask her!

Or more specifically, Mike, go ask Elizabeth Warren what she believes she accepted.  If you can, bring her back here to answer questions on line.  Please report back by COB.


Warren has answered (0.00 / 0)
I DO NOT know Elizabeth Warren but this morning she put out a statement which indicates she won't be a figurehead:

"The President and I are committed to the same vision on CFPB, and I am confident that I will have the tools I need to get the job done."

I have no doubt that will not be enough for those whose minds were made up long ago ... but it does make me more confident this position will have real power and influence.


[ Parent ]
Cautiously pessimistic (4.00 / 1)
Until I hear the words "Warren", "is", "interim", and "director" out of an administration official's mouth, I'm not celebrating anything yet.

Mr Filler, you may be new here. We dont troll rate arguements (3.00 / 4)
and I am asking you now to stop, and cease being a troll.

You may not agree with me, you arent alone, but please use troll rating as it is intended as it is designed, as it is used, to remove p[eople who break the rules of posting, who are spammers and people who use foul language gratuitously, or at least those seem to be the rules, I dont write them.

Cut it out.

--

The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky


[ Parent ]
May be that effing bug again! (4.00 / 1)
Caution: Don't use the arrow keys of the keyboard directly after rating a comment! This will change your selction in the drop down list, and may result in accidentally trollrating a comment. To work around this bug, always click on an empty space after rating a comment, pls!

[ Parent ]
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