Time will tell what changes Elizabeth Warren and the CFPB will bring
Elizabeth Warren has risen up the ranks in U.S. politics since President Obama first took office in 2008. Originally a bankruptcy law specialist at Harvard as well as other prominent institutions, she was first seen on the national stage when she was appointed to chair the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. This Act was the bailout of the US financial system.
Thanks to Bill Clinton’s repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act back in 1999 and George W. Bush failure to see the early warnings signs, we were left with the subprime mortgage crisis and subsequent banking collapse that caused what most refer to as the “great Recession”.
As congress passed the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in response to they crises, they created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the process. The CFPB was created to strip the existing powers from the banking agencies and centralized them in a specialized agency whose only function would be consumer financial protection.
Congress simultaneously granted the CFPB significant new powers to respond to abuses that had occurred during the real estate bubble, including enforcement authority modeled on the Federal Trade Commission’s program. The Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act was signed into law by President Obama in July 2010.
Elizabeth Warren was an early advocate for the creation of the new Consumer Protection Financial Bureau. In anticipation of the agency’s formal opening, for the first year after the bill’s signing, Warren worked on implementation of the bureau as a special assistant to the President.
Although she was favored to be head of the agency, President Obama was convinced that Warren could not win Senate confirmation as the bureau’s first director. Obama turned instead to former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and in January 2012, over the objections of Republican Senators, Obama gave Cordray the post in a recess appointment.
Warren ran for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat and defeated Scott Brown in 2012 rather than risk losing a Senate Confirmation as head of the CFPB. Although she faced massive opposition from business interests, she managed to raise close to $40 million for her campaign and won with 53% of the vote. Warren now sits on the Senate Banking Committee, they oversee the implementation of Dodd-Frank and the regulation of the banking industry.
The slogans, “Too Big to Fail, too Big to Jail” have become all too familiar to mainstream media and it is yet to be seen what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be able to accomplish. With so many economic crises happening simultaneously and dragging on for years, relief for the middle class is still hanging in the balance. Much is expected of the Bureau, Warren and Richard Cordray.
In future columns, I will be following the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau, Mr, Cordray and Senator Warren on their progress as the second term of President Obama unfolds. It will take a lot of work, untangling a massive web of fraud including international banks, the Libor scandal, and offshore banking. It may or may not be able to be done, but at least these steps seem to be genuine and hopefully some progress will be made to prevent this from ever happening in the future.
“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. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. 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.” – Elizabeth Warren