Bringing Up the Rear: Senator Christopher Dodd

by 01 Oct 2010
Without question, Elizabeth Warren should be appointed to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has been created as a result of the recently passed financial reform bill.   Her appointment is easily the single most important appointment to a government post in my lifetime.  If you think I’m being dramatic, I assure you I am not.  If anything, I’m understating the importance of Ms. Warren being named to the position.   If this battle is lost, and I assure you that it is a battle in every sense of the word, that loss will not only be costly for today’s consumers in monetary terms, but it is also likely be costly for our children in the decades to come.   The banking lobby is THE group behind the opposition to Elizabeth Warren and that should tell you enough right there.  Warren wants to protect consumers, and it should be painfully obvious to everyone that bankers do not.  Treasury Secretary Tim “Transparency” Geithner and White House economic advisor, Larry Summers are the two most visible individuals that don’t want Warren to have the job.  They are also the two people who have engineered the banking bailouts, and left American homeowners to figure things out for themselves.   Here’s what Yves Smith said on her well-known popular blog, Naked Capitalism, had to say about Warren’s appointment: ‘ “Warren is the obvious choice to head the otherwise-guaranteed-to-be-a-joke consumer financial services agency due to set up its shingle at the Fed. She has been a tireless consumer advocate, is trusted and well liked by the public at large, an effective communicator and a respected legal scholar, and is willing to stare down political opponents. All those qualities make her hugely threatening. Banksters and their lobbyist allies have been saying loudly and clearly that they are firmly opposed to having Warren head the new consumer agency.”   And here’s what Shahien Nasiripour wrote recently in The Huffington Post:   “Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has expressed opposition to the possible nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, according to a source with knowledge of Geithner’s views.  Warren’s persistent oversight is part of the reason for Geithner’s opposition, according to the source.”   “Geithner’s objections to Warren taking over that role also involve her views on Wall Street, sources say. The longtime professor believes the nation’s megabanks are Too Big To Fail and have been among the biggest abusive lenders in the country. Her toughness on giant banks is said to be a longtime source of tension with Geithner.”   Okay… and here’s Simon Johnson on Geithner’s opposition to Warren:   “With his track record of survival, Geithner and his team apparently feel they can push hard against Elizabeth Warren and give the new consumer protection job to someone closer to their philosophy – which is much more sympathetic to the banking industry.”   And Yves Smith again, in response to Johnson’s comment…   “The Administration is not about to change its stripes and suddenly take an action that might actually lead to some effective measures against the financial services industry. It’s clear they will oppose a Warren appointment; the only question is how openly they will do so.”   Okay, that’s enough… I can’t take any more of that.   The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was Elizabeth Warren’s idea.  She’s the one who brought it to President Obama.  She’s the country’s leading expert on economics and the middle class and she’s the only person in Washington who is there totally for the American consumer, and not beholden to the banks.  She’s a Harvard professor… she doesn’t need the money… she’s serving the American people.  We need to let her do that.   Elizabeth Warren says she views the new bureau as “a way for the rest of us to… get some balance, some leveling of the playing field, so that people can really see the products they’re buying.”   Here, here!  We need some of that.  We haven’t had any of that in more than 30 years.  In 1980, a credit card disclosure was a single page.  Today, it’s dozens of pages of mouse type that basically says that the issuer can do pretty much whatever they want, whenever they want to do it.  First Premier Bank actually has a card that charges a 79.9% interest rate!  (Don’t worry though… I’m sure it only applies to poor people, so screw ‘em, right?)   So, what about Senator Dodd?  He’s the REAR this month, remember?  (I’d almost forgotten too.)   As a vocal consumer advocate, Warren has faced opposition by Republicans and the financial industry.  And that’s to be expected.  The lion’s share of Republicans and every single member of the banksters have questioned whether Warren has the experience to run a large agency.  They’ve also suggested that her support for consumers will make it difficult for her to negotiate fairly.  And all of that is to be expected too.   Chris Dodd, however, helped write the legislation that has created the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection at the Federal Reserve, with the goal of creating an agency that will police banks for credit card and mortgage lending abuses.  And Dodd’s the Chair of the Senate Banking Committee, a staunch defender of Fannie and Freddie in the years leading up to their spectacular failures.  (Both of the mortgage giants are now trading OTC right next to Blockbuster.)   And now, when asked about the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the new agency, he replies by issuing a warning that her appointment may lead to a protracted confirmation fight in the Senate.  In an interview with Bloomberg’s Judy Woodruff, Dodd said the following:   “What you don’t need to have is an eight-month battle for who the director or the head or chairperson of this new consumer financial protection bureau will be.  Warren’s a good candidate, but some Senators have suggested they won’t vote for her.”   Is that right, Senator Dodd?  I cannot believe what a sniveling coward that makes you sound like.  You’ve been in the Senate since… I don’t know… forever.  You were at the helm of the Senate Banking Committee leading up to the worst financial meltdown of the banking system since The Great Depression.  You.  You.  You were the guy completely asleep at the switch when the bomb went off.  Your inaction and incompetence has caused so much pain it could never been described in words.  That’s right, you.  Maybe not alone, but you were certainly one of the guys in the club.    And now, when the financial reform bill, as watered down as it is, has finally passed… and you have the chance, before you retire into the sunset, to support the appointment of the only person in Washington that’s not pro-bankster, Elizabeth Warren… the only person who might just provide some degree of balance in a government that has so obviously become driven by the financial lobby… you run from the fight, suggesting publicly that she shouldn’t be appointed because some Senators have suggested that they won’t vote for her?   Well, fine.  But, just so you and everyone in Washington D.C. knows… this is the litmus test of your character.  This is the test that will show which among you are even remotely of the people, by the people and for the people.   Nominate Elizabeth Warren, Senator Dodd.  And let the ones that oppose Elizabeth Warren stand naked in the light so they can be seen.   And the American consumer…. No, the American voter will take care of them come November.


Should CFPB have more supervision over credit agencies?