Wall Street Beware: Elizabeth Warren Expected To Advocate For Consumers On Powerful Banking Committee

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    Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren, center, waves to the crowd as Edward M. Kennedy, Jr., left, son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., applauds during a campaign stop in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate Elizabeth Warren, center, waves to the crowd as Edward M. Kennedy, Jr., left, son of the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., applauds during a campaign stop in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)


    (NEW YORK) MintPress – Another victory for newly elected Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) according to the news coming out of Washington: The consumer advocate will be tapped in early January to serve on the Senate Banking Committee, the panel that oversees the implementation of Dodd-Frank and other regulations.

    An anonymous aide to a committee member told Mother Jones last month that many bank lobbyists were “pushing to keep her off.”

    It is also a victory for the progressives who helped Warren, a former Harvard law professor, beat Republican Sen. Scott Brown in the most expensive Senate contest of 2012.

    She reclaimed the Senate seat held for decades by Democrat Edward Kennedy. Brown was elected in 2010 to fill the remainder of Kennedy’s term after his death.

    Warren launched her bid for the Senate after President Obama, facing pressure from Republicans in Congress, decided not to nominate her to be director of the new Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CPFB), which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act.

    An outspoken critic of Wall Street and Main Street consumer lending practices, she had advised the administration on how to establish the agency.

    Warren was featured in the 2006 documentary “Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders” and Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story.”

    She is the first woman ever elected as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts.

    At the Democratic National Convention in September, Warren said, to applause, “Wall Street CEOs — the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs — still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors and acting like we should thank them.”

     

    Controversial figure

    Born in Oklahoma City in 1949 to working class parents, Warren attended George Washington University and the University of Houston. She received a law degree from Rutgers University in Newark in 1976 and went on to teach law at several universities before joining Harvard in the early 1990s.

    Her first book, “The Two Income Trap,” chronicled the decline of the middle class at the expense of the hedge fund class.

    In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Warren served as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

    She later served as assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the treasury for the CPFB.

    Warren was named one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2009 and 2010. The National Law Journal has repeatedly named her as one of the “Fifty Most Influential Women Attorneys in America,” and in 2010 it honored her as one of the 40 most influential attorneys of the decade.

    A week after she announced her run for the Senate, a video of Warren speaking in Andover went viral.

    In it, she replied to the charge that asking the rich to pay more taxes is “class warfare,” saying,

    “There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own – nobody. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.”

    She continued, “Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless – keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

    Not surprisingly, Warren faced massive opposition from business interests, with a U.S. Chamber of Commerce representative claiming in August that “no other candidate in 2012 represents a greater threat to free enterprise than Professor Warren.”

    She still managed to raise roughly $40 million for her campaign, more than any other Senate candidate in 2012.

     

    Bright future

    On the Senate Banking Committee, Warren will have a key role in writing banking legislation, including standing up to attempts by Republicans to further water down the Dodd-Frank Act and to limit Wall Street liability for foreclosure and lending fraud.

    She also backs the Volcker Rule, a limit on how much banks can trade with their own money.

    And Warren has called for a return to Glass-Steagall, a Depression-era law that prevented commercial banks from also operating as investment banks. Many of the bad investments made by Wall Street were possible because Glass-Steagall had been repealed.

    According to Mother Jones, “Reinstating Glass-Steagall would mean breaking up sprawling Wall Street institutions such as JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America”

    As Simon Johnson, a professor at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management and co-author of “White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You,” wrote in the New York Times after Warren’s election, “Senator Warren is well placed, not just to play a role in strengthening Congressional oversight but also in terms of helping her colleagues think through what we really need to make our financial system more stable.

    “We need a new trust-busting moment. And this requires elected officials willing and able to stand up to concentrated and powerful corporate interests,” he continued.

    “Empower the consumer – and figure out how this can get you elected. Agree with the people of Massachusetts, and give Elizabeth Warren every opportunity.”

    A final decision on committee assignments will be made after the new session of Congress convenes.


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