September 17th, 2010
09:31 AM ET
4 years ago

'Hell to pay' if Elizabeth Warren isn't in charge

 A White House official says the administration expects Warren's role at Treasury to last for months not years.
A White House official says the administration expects Warren's role at Treasury to last for months not years.

(CNN) – As President Obama is poised to name consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren to a new role, progressive groups are issuing a warning: they want her to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and nothing less.

"It's still completely on the table that she'd be given a permanent appointment, and if the Wall Street types in the White House tried to stab her in the back and give someone else that role, there'd be hell to pay with progressives," says Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. "That would be a really stupid move right as the president gears up his own re-election."

Green's group helped organize a campaign pressuring the White House to nominate Warren for the top job at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency she initially proposed. Warren is beloved by progressive groups who see her as a fierce advocate for "regular Americans" and a worthy opponent for Wall Street.

After a string of disappointments with the White House, a number of progressive groups – who believe they were crucial to the President's election – have taken up Warren's cause with determination.

What the White House is doing today falls short of the progressives wish. In her new role at Treasury, Warren will be empowered to design and set up the new agency – not run it. A White House official says the administration expects Warren's role at Treasury to last for months not years.


This official explains once the agency is open for business, Warren can't lead it from her new post at Treasury. Instead, the official insists, Warren will play "a pivotal role" in determining who the president nominates for that top job.

Reading between the lines, don't expect the White House to nominate her.

Some progressive activists, who won't speak on the record for fear of antagonizing the White House right before Warren's announcement, privately tell CNN they see this appointment as the administration's way to give Warren the power, while avoiding a drawn out confirmation battle. One key activist tells CNN, if the White House nominates someone else to the post progressives "will be pissed."

In a statement to CNN Ilyse Houge of moveon.org is optimistic: "As a very senior advisor to the President on a wide swath of economic issues Elizabeth Warren will have enormous power and influence and most importantly consumers will have a strong advocate at the decision making table."

PCCC's Adam Green is hopeful as well. Says Green: "The fact is that Warren will functionally have the keys to the new bureau for it's opening months, giving her immense opportunity to craft it the right way." But he suggests there could be a political strategy here saying this appointment "is giving President Obama a brief honeymoon on this issue with progressives through the election."

In fact there's pressure on the White House to nominate a permanent director even before the midterm election – and it's coming from a Democrat. Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, for whom the financial reform legislation is a piece of his final legacy before leaving the Senate, is pressing for the White House to nominate a director in the next few weeks so it's clear the president isn't trying to backdoor Warren into the job.

The White House says it will take months to nominate a director.

Sound messy? The White House official insists this is the best way to ensure Warren "plays a central role" at a "pivotal time for the new agency." The source adds, "The alternative is going through many months if not more than a year-long battle which the president is happy to have. But that would put her on the sidelines and silence her" for the duration of the fight.

This source says in the new role Warren will lead the effort to organize the new agency, including recruiting staff and overseeing policy initiatives.

Some activists say they have so much faith in Elizabeth Warren they're confident she wouldn't take this role if it weren't meaningful. It's possible these supporters will be mollified if Warren picks someone else to run the agency and assures groups it's the best choice.

But they realize there is a possibility the White House is merely postponing a confrontation over this issue.

In part, Green blames Sen. Dodd. In a biting rebuke Green insists, "The White House is being coy about Warren's role to appease a senator...who sees screwing consumers as his golden opportunity to get a high-paying job on Wall Street."

And so the lines are drawn.


Filed under: Chris Dodd • Elizabeth Warren • President Obama
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Joe Blow

    So the GOP plans to fight Warren's nomination! So what...are the Democrats so inept that they cannot accept that challenge and make the case that the GOPers want to deny consumers the advocate we know we need? Isn't that a fight Obama would want during an election campaign? I thought we elected a Democrat to the WH...and one that would stand up to the special interests??? The jury may still be out but the handwriting is on the wall.

    September 17, 2010 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  2. dont care what you Demoncrates say

    if she works for Obama then its hell to pay for Americans.

    September 17, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  3. Steve (the real one)

    In light of this huge progressive push and threats in support of Warren, there are only 2 sure outcomes:

    1. She'll get the job
    2. This won't be good for America!

    September 17, 2010 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  4. jim

    So now Americans are threatened by progressives if they don't get their way.Obama is trying to turn this country into a socialst utopia and are putting people like this lady in charge.It is people like this as to why the nation's unemployment rate is 9.6% and the poverty rate hit 14% last year.I doubt we would be better off with this individual in a job whose parameters were defined by herself.The misery index is back from the Carter years just the make up has changed.

    September 17, 2010 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  5. Ferret out the BS

    Everybody needs to step back and let the president do his job and then back him up. The opposition is getting too strong and single minded in attaining seats lost to democratic candidates.

    September 17, 2010 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  6. Louisiana Man

    Yes, put someone is charge who can strong arm these bullies on Wall St and go toe to toe with them.

    EW has all the leadership qualifiers to neutralize these scourges, scoundrels and leeches of the financial world-
    who without an iota of conscience and with the gift of deregulation from their good pal GWB-
    did willfully and fragrantly screw the citizens to the enrichment of their own personal coffers and we in turn bailed out these dearths with no strings attached.

    To quote idoit bush-"Bring her on"!!!

    September 17, 2010 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  7. JANUARY 20, 2013 - THE END OF AN ERROR

    So, Obama is going to appoint Elizabeth Warren, another Harvard academic with no real world experience as the Consumer Financial Protection "czar". Rather than use the terms "czar", it would be more appropriate to describe her position as a "commissar". I think that is what they used to call the bureaucrats in the old Soviet Union and other totalitarian states.

    And by the way, this gives us another reason to vote Obama and every other Democrat out of office at the next available opportunity.

    September 17, 2010 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  8. Progressive?

    Exactly what is a progressive, a socialist, a communist, radical,?

    September 17, 2010 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  9. Eric

    The "progressives" this, the "progressives" that... please someone, tell me, what is so progressive about pushing the same failed policies and ideas that have failed REPEATEDLY throughout the past hundred years.

    I give you:
    Italy
    Spain
    Greece
    Nazi Germany
    The Soviet Union
    China
    Cuba
    Venezuela

    How many times does this cult need to be shown as the very brutual and deadly failure it truly is before you radicals stop pushing it?

    Again, show me a socialist/commuhnist/marxist/statist country and I'll show you "equality" in misery, poverty, hunger, brutality, terrorism of their own people, and ultimately, their mass graves.

    ...as they all, everyone one of them, all end the same.

    September 17, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  10. Huh

    His dogs are biting him now? So far I have not seen anyone who comes out of harvard lately that is very impressive.

    September 17, 2010 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  11. David

    Obama better do what his masters want and appoint this woman. And make sure she doesn't have to go through Senate confirmation hearings lest we hear something unfortunate like she's a member of the communist party or something.

    September 17, 2010 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  12. seebofubar

    Nobody cares (nor should they) about what the whinny snot nosed progressives think. Put them all in California on the other side of the San Andreas and hope for the big one. Maybe they will float off into the Pacific.

    September 17, 2010 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  13. Liberty Queen

    Elizabeth Warren should be the head of the Consumer Protection Agency Burean and no less. Obama has no b#lls. Let's get rid of that twit and wall street boy Timothy Gietner while we're at it. And Chris Dodd, head of the Banking Committee, is a total crook. Sic'em Elizabeth!!!!

    September 17, 2010 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. MikeH

    Failure to put Elizabeth Warren in charge of the Consumer Protection Agency means Obama caved to powerful, and corrupt, political interests. He will not get re-elected if he does not put her in charge.

    September 17, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  15. Joe

    The "progressive groups" need to take a chill. They are hurting the President's agenda. These special interest groups who play by the "it's our way or the highway" rules are STUPID. What kind of progress did they make on their agenda during the 8 years of the Bush Administration? NONE. Some progress is always better than NO progress. Politics is the art of compromise. Sadly, somebody just don't get that.

    September 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. Jerry - Florida

    Oh, oh, America. Here we go again! So much for truth and clarity.

    September 17, 2010 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  17. PaDoc

    Palin is a woman in the public’s face who is a dull witted grizzly bear with lots of bluster and no substance. Elizabeth Warren is a teddy bear with so much intellect and personal fortitude that she could chew Palin up and spit her out before she saw it coming. Whatever Warren wants would get my blessing without a second thought. She is one class act!

    September 17, 2010 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. Right Leaning Independent

    Ohhhh, Adam is so scary with his threats.

    September 17, 2010 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  19. Robert

    I am glad she has been appointed. She is very much needed in this role.

    September 17, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  20. 8 Years of having a drunken driver at the wheel put America in the ditch, why would working Americans return the keys to the crowd drinking at the same bar?

    "That would be a really stupid move right as the president gears up his own re-election."

    That is a really stupid statement for a progressive.

    What are you going to do?

    Vote a straight neo-con ticket that wants to take this country back to the time of the Crusades and the Inquistion?

    Stay home?

    Warren is forming the bureau and as President Obama has logically stated it would take a year to get her confirmed.

    So, let her set it up and just chill!

    And do stop making stupid statements and threats about voting against your own self-interest.

    You are beginning to sound and act like the sheeple the republicans have conned.

    September 17, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  21. NVa Native

    I love to see the Republicans shaking in their little kitty boots. It's amazing at how scared the Repubs are of Warren.
    A woman who is intelligent and hard working, and avoids speaking in politcal gibberish.
    Warren is a breath of fresh air.

    September 17, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. Fair is Fair

    Hey Obama... Better listen up and dance. Those are your puppet masters talking.

    September 17, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. What????

    They are threatening their annoited one? what happened to the tingle dudes? Fools I say, all fools.

    September 17, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. aneanderthal

    The Republicans express this concern about this very scenario when the bill was up for approval and guess what it is happening. Another, unvetted, unethical, side stepping appointment by the most corrupt, unethical, incompetent president in history. His failure to observe this law alone should be grounds for impeachment. Democrat liberals, don't want to hear any whining from your side when this inept, incompetent, corrupt union toady is replaced in 2012 and a Republican president does the same thing citing the Obama precedent. IMPEACH THE IDIOT OBAMA.

    September 17, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  25. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I said the same thing yesterday. She needs to be running the CFPB.

    September 17, 2010 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
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