In a move that's confusing progressives, President Obama has appointed Elizabeth Warren to oversee the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Warren, a Harvard law professor, has long been the preferred choice of liberals to head the bureau as its permanent director. However, Warren would have faced a contentious confirmation hearing in the Senate. This appointment allows the administration to skirt the confirmation process while keeping Warren involved in the agency. It also doesn't preclude her from being nominated as bureau chief later on--though some contest that point. What was the administration's logic behind this move?
Warren Wanted This, writes Mike Allen at Politico: "She has been a media darling as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, which monitors TARP, and was a favorite to head the new consumer agency. But she and the White House cooked up this interim role after she did some homework on the Hill and discovered the confirmation fight would be ugly, and perhaps futile. The formidable Warren will continue to push for the broadest powers she can get, but will inevitably be circumscribed once a director is confirmed."
- Not Great News for Progressives, writes Ezra Klein at The Washington Post: "The downside is that piqued Republicans are even less likely to support her in a future Senate battle, meaning this temporary appointment might come at the cost of a permanent position. And won't potential employees be reticent to join the agency when they don't really know who their actual boss will be?"
- Actually It Is, write Ryan Grim and Shahien Nasiripour at The Huffington Post: "The move allows her to act as an interim head of the CFPB and will enable her to begin setting up the agency immediately and prevent the GOP from filibustering her nomination. Warren could serve until Obama nominates a permanent director -- a nomination he's not required to make for some time. Obama could also nominate her as the permanent director in the near future, a prospect that has been discussed among top aides, according to a person familiar with the White House deliberations."
- Don't Do This, Mr. President, urges Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn), in a letter to President Obama: "The individual who heads this bureau will be able to make rules, with ultimately no checks and balances, that could have broad reaching implications for the U.S. economy as it relates to accessing credit, social justice and the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking system. The job is disproportionately reliant on the decisions of one individual with access to large sums of taxpayer monies to carry out the agency agenda. Taxpayers deserve better stewardship in the determination of who will take on this responsibility."
- This Is Weak, writes Andrew Leonard at Salon: "Neither Obama's supporters nor opponents will be satisfied with this move -- just as neither were happy with the healthcare bill or bank reform. It feels weak. If Obama was hoping to spur enthusiasm among the Democratic base that would get voters to the polls, this is not the way to do it. Instead of inspiring cheers, this news is sure to hit with a dull thud." Matthew Yglesias agrees, tweeting "Obama showing real innovation in developing odd, satisfying to nobody compromises."
- This Is Devastating, writes Zach Carter at Campaign for America's Future: "It's tremendously disappointing to liberals and conservatives alike-- and uplifting for the CEOs of Wall Street's biggest banks. Everybody knows Warren is the right person for the job if Obama actually cares about protecting consumers. Appointing anybody else is a serious blow to the Wall Street reform bill-- the CFPB is the best thing about the legislation, and if Obama doesn't intend to appoint the best candidate to the head the new agency, it says something very unpleasant about his motivations regarding the bill."