Elizabeth Warren: Too 'controversial' for Washington?

The crusading Harvard Law professor is one of Obama's three candidates to run the new U.S. consumer watchdog agency. But is the Senate demanding a blander pick?

Elizabeth Warren
(Image credit: David Shankbone)

Progressives are pushing President Obama hard to nominate Elizabeth Warren to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created under the financial overhaul law. Warren, a Harvard law professor, is a leading expert on consumer debt and Congress' chief bank-bailout watchdog, and the CFPB was originally her idea. But some Senate Democrats are balking, warning that she would be hard to confirm. Why? And are their fears justified? (Watch Warren discuss the failures of the bank rescue)

Dems have dumbed-down "controversial": Democrats like Chris Dodd (CT) are essentially arguing that Warren is "too controversial to be confirmed by a Democratic Senate," says David Sirota in The Huffington Post. Huh? Where were the cries of "too controversial" with Wall Street–coddling nominees like Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner? Washington is "hijacking" the word to protect "the economic status quo" from a strong "agent of change."

"Elizabeth Warren and the definition of 'controversial'"

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Warren might be too activist to be effective: Senators are just doing their nominee-vetting duty, says Neil Irwin in The Washington Post. And, frankly, it's not clear she'd be "as effective as a bureaucrat as she is as a guest on 'The Daily Show.'" Liberals may love her pro-consumer, regulatory fervor, but they won't be so happy if that leads to banks cutting off credit to the poor.

"Is Elizabeth Warren really the best pick...?"

Warren might not be worth the pain: If Obama picks another candidate, it's probably because he "doesn't like to pick fights he can't win," says Andrew Leonard in Salon. And he may not win a CFPB-delaying, "knock-down, drag out fight" with the GOP. Liberals can gripe that anyone but Warren would be "another capitulation to Wall Street," but the sad truth is that Sen. "Scott Brown (R-MA) has more power to decide a Warren appointment than Obama."

"Obama's Elizabeth Warren mess"

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