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Attack dogs after Elizabeth Warren

June 13, 2011 - Mike Maneval
Elizabeth Warren is expected to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform again today, and Joe Nocera of the New York Times details the rude and abrasive treatment she received from the committee members during her previous testimony and offers an explanation why Warren's chances to head the agency she designed are slimming and why a public figure with an initial record of success is drawing so much ire.

During her earlier testimony, one representative, Nocera notes, accused Warren of lying. The point of contention is several instances where Warren advised state-level public officials with attorney general offices on the investigation of mortgage lenders' "robo-signing" practices, a scandal in which many homeowners who were not actually delinquent suffered foreclosures or attempts to foreclose their properties.

Nocera believes the animosity stems more from Warren's successes. Charged with laying the initial groundwork for a new financial consumer protection agency, Nocera says Warren has attracted top-level talent for staffing positions and convinced two government agencies to merge a mortgage form into one, simpler document.

The Senate has taken a different approach, with Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky saying Warren's nomination to head the new agency won't get a vote until the agency is redesigned - most significantly, until its funded by a yearly appropriation by congress instead of being treated as an automatic expenditure. Such a change, of course, would weaken the agency's independence and allow legislators to withhold support if the agency appropriately provides critical oversight of donors and allies.

The attack dogs are out for Warren, not because she would perform poorly in protecting financial consumers' rights, but because she might perform well enough to level the playing field for consumers.


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