Nearly two years after Wall Street waged a successful campaign to keep consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren from running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the incoming senator will be tapped to serve on the Banking Committee, according to four sources familiar with the situation. It’s a victory for progressives who battled to win her a seat on the panel that oversees the implementation of Dodd-Frank and other banking regulations.
Warren knocked out Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts in the most expensive Senate contest of 2012, with Wall Street spending heavily to beat Warren, a former Harvard law professor.
Sources also told HuffPost that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will be named to the panel.
Banks have disliked Warren since her Harvard days, when she agitated against predatory lending, credit card fees, and other bank practices. And as her national profile grew through her work with TARP oversight and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog agency she helped create, their arm’s-length opposition became a full-on war. Banks lobbied to keep her from being nominated to head the CFPB, then poured big donations into the campaign of Scott Brown, her Senate race opponent.
After her convincing victory in November, her appointment to the powerful Senate Banking Committee, where she would have actual oversight of the financial sector, is seen by many on Wall Street as a fait accompli.
What scares Wall Street most is that, unlike many industry detractors, Warren can stand toe-to-toe with industry lobbyists on the nuances of regulation and the nature of complex financial products. She is also skilled at boiling esoteric points about Wall Street’s excesses down to a pure, potent narrative of intentional malpractice. In her speech at the Democratic National Convention, Warren took on banks using the kind of brusque language you don’t hear all that often on Capitol Hill.
"People feel like the system is rigged against them," she said. "And here’s the painful part: they’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs — the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs — still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them."
The speech was booed by Republicans and mocked by Wall Street, but it was a hit everywhere else, even among legislators not traditionally known for their anti-bank rhetoric.
“I can’t stop thinking about Elizabeth Warren’s speech,” New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand wrote in an e-mail to supporters the next day. “You could hear it in her voice and see it in her eyes: Elizabeth will never give up on the middle class. She’ll be relentless in making sure everyone gets a fair shot.”
That kind of contagion scares some senior Wall Street types, who fear that with a seat on the banking committee and her media-darling status, Warren’s views could spread to other senators in short order.
Still, Warren’s most powerful argument, and the one that has caught on among her fellow Senate Democrats, is not really about specific businesses or products. It’s about tone, and the basic failure of Wall Street firms to properly acknowledge their roles in the financial crisis, display sufficient gratitude for having been bailed out by taxpayers, and change their practices accordingly.
In attempt to ingratiate themselves with Warren and avoid the brunt of her newfound power, firms in the senator-elect’s home state are already distancing themselves from their bulge-bracket brethren.
“We don’t consider ourselves Wall Street, honestly,” Tracey Flaherty, an executive at Boston-based asset manager Natixis Global Asset Management, told the Boston Globe last week.
But without that card to play, Wall Street megabanks are left to hope that the Senate will sand down some of Warren’s sharp edges. Several financial firms and lobbying groups said they expected to meet with Warren and her transition staff in the coming weeks to try to curry favor at the start of a six-year term. But few have high hopes for turning her into a friend of the financial sector.
"She has a way of getting what she wants," another bank executive said with a sigh.
Lobbyists and trade groups for Wall Street and other major banking players are pressuring lawmakers to deny Warren a seat on the powerful Senate banking committee.
Anything the banking sector opposes is something I’m willing to support, considering their track record has been effectively nullified since 2008, and their strategy since then has been to make everyone forget and to perpetuate the failed virtues of a failed values system.
Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren pledged to lead the Democratic effort on filibuster reform in the “first week in January” and suggested a new filibuster should look more like the traditional motion: A lawmaker should be required to defend his or her opposition to a bill on the Senate floor.
“On the first day of the new session in January, the senators will have a unique opportunity to change the filibuster rule with a majority vote, rather than the normal two-thirds vote. The change can be modest: If someone objects to a bill or a nomination in the United States Senate, they should have to stand on the floor of the chamber and defend their opposition,” she writes in a blog post published on the Huffington Post.
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Warren to nab powerful committee seat? According to several Senate sources, Senator-elect and populist hero Elizabeth Warren has a good chance of getting a seat on the powerful Senate Banking Committee. This is a logical fit for Warren, architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and would give her great power in her efforts to curb deceptive and unscrupulous practices on the part of financial institutions. “[G]iven her prominent work on those issues, she would certainly have a very good shot” at getting a spot on the committee, an aide tells Reuters. Having Warren on Banking is essentially the Republicans’ worst nightmare, but it’s worth noting that it’s a nightmare entirely of their own short-sited construction. source
This majority will be far more liberal than its predecessor. It’s not just that moderate senators like Jim Webb in Virginia, Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, and Herb Kohl in Wisconsin now have more liberal successors—Tim Kaine, Chris Murphy, and Tammy Baldwin, respectively—but that conservative Republicans were replaced by moderate Democrats, moderate Republicans were replaced by liberal Democrats (Scott Brown to Elizabeth Warren) and liberal Democrats were replaced by even more liberal Democrats. In Hawaii, for example, the race to replace outgoing Senator Daniel Akaka was won by Representative Mazie Hirono, one of the most liberal members of the House.
It’s hard to exaggerate how much of a failure this is for Republicans. For the second cycle in a row, they have failed to break a Democratic Senate majority that has been weakened by slow economic growth, controversial legislation, and bad luck with scheduling (21 Democrats were up for re-election this year).
In 2010, you could blame the Tea Party—candidates like Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell were easy pickings for more moderate Democrats. This year, that excuse holds less weight; yes, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were not establishment Republicans, but George Allen, Scott Brown, Josh Mandel, and Connie Mack were—they just weren’t good enough to defeat strong Democratic candidates who could (accurately) paint the entire GOP as in thrall to a right-wing minority.
From landmark victories for marijuana and same-sex marriage to picking up seats in the Senate, the left gained much more than the presidency Tuesday.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
Fuck yeah, Elizabeth Warren!
- Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, the Sheriff of Wall Street who could seriously become President of the United States someday if she is able to pull out a victory on Tuesday;
- U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, a member of Congressional Progressive Caucus who is looking to become the first openly LGBT candidate ever elected to the U.S. Senate;
- U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in Ohio, who is running the largest Democratic campaign that operates exclusively in the uber-swing state of Ohio, and who was also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus during his time in the House of Representatives;
- U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy in Connecticut, the real Democrat who can finally replace Joe Lieberman in the U.S. Senate and finish the job the progressive grassroots started nearly seven years ago.
Please click here to contribute $3 to each of these excellent Democratic candidates. Act Blue can wire them the money overnight so it can be spent turning out Democratic voters on Election Day. [h/t Chris Bowers]
A new Suffolk University poll in Massachusetts finds Elizabeth Warren (D) leading Sen. Scott Brown (R) by seven points, 53% to 46%.
In a September poll, Warren led Brown by four points.
And now he is declining to participate in a final debate:
US Senator Scott Brown, after insisting for days that he was eager for a final face-off with Elizabeth Warren, said on Tuesday that he did not believe another debate was necessary and that he would not be able to reschedule the one that was canceled because of the storm.
Brown’s pronouncement represented a striking shift from his comments on Friday, when he said there was no way that Hurricane Sandy would prevent him from taking on Warren on Tuesday as scheduled.
“That’s why I have a truck,” Brown told WBZ-TV on Friday. “You know, it has four-wheel drive. If she needs a ride, I’m happy to pick her up, and I’ll be there, providing the electricity is on.”
Even Monday morning, when Massachusetts was under a state of emergency, Brown was resolute when speaking with reporters at the state’s emergency management bunker in Framingham.
“If it’s appropriate we’ll have it tomorrow,” he said, according to the Associated Press. “If not we’ll just do it the next day or the next day. Certainly we’re going to do it, I think the people want to hear where we stand on all the final issues, a couple of days before the election.”
But later that afternoon his campaign announced that he would not appear at Tuesday night’s debate, saying it was time to focus on storm recovery efforts. While negotiations continued Tuesday, and Warren agreed to a rescheduled debate on Thursday, Brown ultimately said it was not logistically possible.
“With only days remaining in the campaign, and with a long-planned bus tour kicking off Thursday through Election Day that will take Scott Brown to every corner of the Commonwealth, our calendar simply cannot accommodate a rescheduling of this fourth debate and the planning and preparation that would go into it,” read a statement from campaign manager Jim Barnett sent late Tuesday.
The consortium hosting the debate, which includes the Globe, said it had offered multiple options to both campaigns.
“This is very disappointing for all the citizens who will not have an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates a week before this important election,” said WGBH executive producer Linda Polach, who has been coordinating the effort for the consortium.
The debate was to be moderated by CNN reporter John King and broadcast on a number of local television and radio stations. It was to be the fourth and final debate, and the first since an Oct. 10 forum in Springfield that was not widely seen in Greater Boston.