“Special adviser” is the new czar.
Facing stiff opposition and pointed questions about the left-wing, anti-business advocate that he wanted to nominate as chairman of the new federal consumer financial protection bureau, President Obama once again circumvented the Senate’ constitutional advice and consent role and installed Elizabeth Warren with a wave of his hand:
Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren will help set up a powerful new watchdog agency policing the financial marketplace on behalf of ordinary borrowers and savers, a Democratic official said Wednesday. But it’s unclear whether the Harvard University law professor will end up running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
President Obama is expected this week to appoint Warren to an advisory position that reports to him and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. As special assistant to the president and special adviser to Geithner, she will help get the agency off the ground.
Her new role will not require Senate confirmation. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., had predicted that senators might balk at confirming someone who faces considerable opposition from Wall Street.
Warren declined to comment. The official requested anonymity because the president has not yet announced the appointment.
According to Jake Tapper at ABC News, Warren’s official title will be: “Assistant to the President & Special Adviser to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
Republicans need to make more noise about this sleight of hand. GOP Sen. Bob Corker objected, via Meredith Jessup:
In a letter delivered to the White House today, Sen. Bon Corker, R-Tenn., a member of the Senate Banking Committee, wrote that he “strongly” believed the intent of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation legislation “was to have the head of this bureau go through the nomination, vetting and confirmation process.”
Corker wrote that the position of director of the bureau “is unprecedented in the nature of its unfettered and unchecked authorities, which makes the confirmation process even more important to the interests of the American people. The individual who heads this bureau will be able to make rules, with ultimately no checks and balances, that could have broad reaching implications for the U.S. economy as it relates to accessing credit, social justice and the safety and soundness of the U.S. banking system. The job is disproportionately reliant on the decisions of one individual with access to large sums of taxpayer monies to carry out the agency agenda.”
The opposition to bypassing the Senate is not just a Republican concern. Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., one of the architects of the financial regulatory bill, also warns the administration about the political ramifications of unilaterally appointing Warren.
Another day, another end-run around transparency and the deliberative process. Mmm, mmm, mmm.