July 23rd, 2010
07:24 PM ET
4 years ago

Progressives' next big fight: Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren is among those being considered by President Obama to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Elizabeth Warren is among those being considered by President Obama to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Las Vegas (CNN) - Elizabeth Warren is a hero at Netroots Nation, a gathering of progressive bloggers and activists meeting this week in Las Vegas.

Warren is a leading candidate for director of the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). And many of the Netroots advocates here vow to use their fundraising and online muscle to press President Obama and Democrats in Congress to make that happen.

Warren, a Harvard professor and chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), is an outspoken consumer advocate who originally proposed the idea for such a bureau. The financial reform legislation signed by President Obama this week made the CFPB a reality. And in an interview with ABC News on Thursday, the President indicated that Warren is among those he's considering as the Bureau's director.

But Warren has critics in the business community, and both Obama and a key Democratic leader in Congress have made it clear she is no shoo-in for the post.

Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal DailyKos blog tells CNN, "Clearly progressives are not happy with financial regulation passed into law. One of the few provisions that could have teeth is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and it's clear there are forces trying to insert someone at the head who will do everything in their power to defang it." He says of Democratic leaders in Washington "if they want to have any credibility with progressives it's imperative they have someone who will use the powers of the [Consumer Financial Protection] Bureau to fulfill its mission. Elizabeth Warren is one of the few people we trust to do that."

Over the last two years, Warren has been a loud critic of the financial industry and the big banks, blasting what she calls their "tricks and traps" in obscuring the details of financial products.

Whoever gets the job will have enormous power shaping the future path of the agency and what it will regulate. That's why Republicans who say they'd like to see a more "balanced" candidate are warning against "naming an activist to this position," as Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee has said.

But already the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has launched an online petition and is helping to organize a letter among members of Congress asking President Obama to select Warren for the post. According to PCCC co-founder Adam Green they have 170,000 signatures on the petition and 64 members have signed the Congressional letter to the President.

Liberal advocacy organization Moveon.org is taking a different approach – going after a fellow Democrat. They're targeting Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd for a comment he made casting doubt on Warren's appointment. Dodd told National Public Radio: "Elizabeth can be a terrific nominee but the question is, is she confirmable? And there is a serious question about that." To ramp up the pressure on Dodd, Moveon.org has sent a letter to its members asking them to call Dodd's office. And they've launched online ads criticizing the retiring Senator.

Moveon.org's Ilyse Hogue believes targeting Dodd sends a message to other Democrats: oppose Warren and incur the wrath of the progressive online community. Hogue says of Democratic leaders, "They're trotting Chris Dodd out there, who's impenetrable because he's retiring, to do the dirty work of other Democrats who would be vulnerable on this." She says the attack on Dodd is strategic: "We are hitting Dodd hard right now because we don't want any other Democrats to think it's OK to follow his lead and slam Elizabeth Warren when she is the choice of the people to protect us against Wall Street." And she adds, "If we don't, and we go without a fight, every other Democrat thinks it's OK" to oppose Warren.

For these activists, the Warren question is a test of President Obama's commitment to taking on special interests, as he pledged to do during the campaign.

"Either he stands with the banks or with the people," says Moulitsas. "And he puts someone in there who will hold Wall Street accountable."

For her part, Elizabeth Warren will be speaking at Netroots Nation on Saturday.


Filed under: President Obama • Wall Street
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Rob NY

    Warren is the best choice. If Obama doesn't pick her, it shows that he is afraid to truly do the right thing when it comes to Wall St.

    July 23, 2010 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  2. Charlie in Maine

    TRENDING: Tennessee Republican floats secession threat

    What no room for comment on that? Come on CNN!!

    July 23, 2010 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  3. free market capitalism does NOT = democracy

    Warren sounds like the right person to protect consumers so the fact that corporations, wall street gangsters, big oil, big insurance don't like her make her the perfect candidate.......
    get into the faces of the corporate goons (republicans) and single them out and openly fight them over this issue ........
    air it out in public.... no closed meetings........I want to see some dems go after these repub thugs for the right reason: 'protect Americans for once' against corporate deceit

    July 23, 2010 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  4. Dave

    Way to cover half the story. And why are conservatives opposed to her?

    July 23, 2010 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  5. Jilli

    She's the logical choice. She would be a true advocate for the consumer.

    July 23, 2010 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Given how the "business community" has treated our country lately, I say them not liking Elizabeth Warren is a sure sign we need someone of her integrity, smarts and willingness to help the average American.

    Hire her NOW!

    July 23, 2010 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  7. Billy D Williams Lookin' Mofo

    Liz Warren must be opposed at all costs since cringing servility to the same group of business d-bags who wrecked our economy and the Gulf of Mexico is this Administration's most important task.

    July 23, 2010 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  8. Carl

    Republicans are desperate. They will say or do anything if it can help them get reelected. They are in for a surprise when America votes for President Obama and the Democrats are reelected.

    July 23, 2010 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  9. CTYank

    Glad to see ye'r getting one aspect right: the great divide is between progressives and reactionaries, not left/right.
    And, by all indications I've seen, Ms Warren would be a great choice.

    July 23, 2010 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  10. W.B

    The Progressive are whinning too much and not fighting with Pres. Obama. The Pres. Obama and the Democrats have passed historic Bills and all we hear from the Progressive "we didn't get this", and "how come the President do that". STOP WHINNING AND START FIGHTING! Just look at a picture of Bush when you get discourage. Remember 70-90% of the bills passed are prossgressive. Don't let the 10-20% sink a bill."AINT NO STOPPING US NOW"....WE ARE ON THE MOVE!

    July 24, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    Consumer Financial Protection Bureau hell. I'd like to see her as President after Obama's second term.

    July 24, 2010 12:02 am at 12:02 am |
  12. Liberal4Obama

    Go Warren!

    July 24, 2010 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  13. Dave

    The fact she is the beloved child of the nutroots group does not qualify her for nothing!

    July 24, 2010 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  14. Lemonton

    We will see if Obama's loyalty lies with the people or Wall Street. A financial reform bill the is implemented weakly, in a manner that gives a pass to the banks is supposed to regulate accomplish nothing. President Obama, WE RE WATCHING!

    July 24, 2010 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
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