Friday, August 13, 2010

Defending the Banks, It's All He Knows

The Chris Dodd I resigned because I was going to get my ass kicked farewell tour continues:
Despite the outpouring of support for bailout watchdog Elizabeth Warren's candidacy to lead a new consumer protection agency, one prominent Democrat continues to publicly stand in her way: Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd.

The Connecticut Democrat, who has lambasted lenders for taking advantage of cash-strapped borrowers and bank regulators for their poor record in protecting consumers, led the effort to get the recently-enacted financial reform law through Congress. The agency it calls for -- a unit specifically charged with protecting borrowers from predatory lenders -- survived attacks by the financial services industry and Republicans. It's now hailed as one of the Obama administration's top achievements.

But now that the fight has shifted from the creation of the agency to who's going to lead it, Dodd's role seems to have reversed, say some financial reform advocates -- rather than fighting for the toughest possible advocate to fight for consumers and families, he's openly doubting the wisdom of that selection. And it's not clear whether the two have even had a meeting in the last year.

Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law professor with an expertise in bankruptcy and consumer finances, came up with the idea for the agency in a 2007 article. Courted by Congressional Democrats and the White House, she's served as the public face of the campaign to get the idea enacted into law. And since the fall of 2008 she's led the Congressional Oversight Panel, a watchdog agency keeping tabs on the government's massive bailout of the financial and auto industries.

More than 60 members of the House and a dozen-plus senators have urged President Barack Obama to nominate Warren for the consumer post, including House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank. So have the country's largest unions, consumer advocacy groups, law school professors, and a handful of Republicans. Other than Dodd, not a single Democrat in national politics has publicly objected to her nomination.
He's no longer running for political office, so he must just really, really love the banking industry. Heckuva job.

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