In a courageous move this afternoon, President Obama has appointed Elizabeth Warren to establish and lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“”The new consumer bureau is based on a pretty simple idea: People ought to be able to read their credit card and mortgage contracts and know the deal,” Warren wrote on the White House’s blog Friday. “The new law creates a chance to put a tough cop on the beat and provide real accountability and oversight of the consumer credit market. The time for hiding tricks and traps in the fine print is over.”
Obama appointed Warren to the senior White House position of assistant to the president and as a special advisor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, thus successfully circumventing the appointment process that Republicans had threatened to block.
In those roles, she will be responsible for organizing the powerful new consumer agency, Obama said. “Getting this agency off the ground will be an enormously important task, a task that can’t wait and that task is something I’ve asked Elizabeth to take on,” Obama said, appearing with Warren and Geithner in a Rose Garden ceremony. “She was the architect behind the idea for a consumer watchdog, so it only makes sense that she should be the architect, working with Secretary of Treasury Geithner, in standing up the agency,” reports the Los Angeles Times.
This bold move will serve Obama well with a broad-base of the American public that wants aggressive regulation of Wall Street and the U.S. banking market. Warren reacted to the news on the White House blog:
If the CFPB can succeed at leveling the playing field, we can go a long way toward repairing a gaping hole in the budgets of millions of families. But nobody has ever thought or argued that the consumer bureau can fix everything. Lost jobs, stagnant incomes, rising costs for college, dwindling retirement savings—there’s a lot of work to be done.
When she was 16, my grandmother, Hannie Reed, drove a wagon in the Oklahoma land rush. Her mother had died, so she was up front with her little brothers and sisters bouncing around in the back. When I was growing up, she talked about life on the prairie, about marrying my grandfather and making a living building one-room schoolhouses, about getting wiped out in the Great Depression. She was hit with hard challenges throughout her life, but the moral of her stories was always the same: she would solve her problems one at a time by pulling up her socks and getting to work. It’s time for all of us to pull up our socks and get to work.
Jim Wallis and Jeannie Choi interviewed Warren for Sojourners earlier this year. Wallis reflected:
We are now living in a “lawless” economic environment, according to Warren, where our biggest banks have become our most dangerous predators — and with no protections for the rest of us against the “law of the jungle,” as she puts it. The consequences for our economy, our culture, our families, and even our souls have been disastrous. This is not the way we should want to live, Warren says, and it is creating a world which we should not want our children to grow up in. She makes the urgent case for reform with the compelling analysis of a top economist, the family values of a grandmother, and the moral arguments of a person of faith. The sins of the financial world have become both a moral, and even religious, issue from the perspective of the Methodist tradition “which still shapes me.”
You can read Sojourners complete interview with Elizabeth Warren here. Congratulations Dr. Warren. You are one of the one’s we’ve been waiting for!
Rose Marie Berger, an associate editor at Sojourners, blogs at www.rosemarieberger.com. She’s the author of Who Killed Donte Manning? The Story of an American Neighborhood available at store.sojo.net.