Barack Obama officially hired liberals' favorite consumer-protector, Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, to his administration today. She wasn't nominated to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as expected, just to advise the administration as it sets up the agency. Still, good!
Since word leaked a few days ago about Obama's choice to hire her, the reaction has been... modest confusion, basically. What the hell does it mean to be hired as "Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"? Is she going to oversee contractors putting the new bureau's office together? Will she be ordering the construction supplies?
No, but she will be avoiding an annoying, drawn-out Senate confirmation process, which the Democrats don't seem willing to take on right now — and which Elizabeth Warren supposedly doesn't want to go through. Who can blame her? She seems happy with this new job. Here's a piece of what she wrote on the White House blog this morning, alongside a delightful twitpic of her showing up for work today with her fancy L.L. Bean backpack:
President Obama understands the importance of leveling the playing field again for families and creating protections that work not just for the wealthy or connected, but for every American. The new consumer bureau is based on a pretty simple idea: people ought to be able to read their credit card and mortgage contracts and know the deal. They shouldn't learn about an unfair rule or practice only when it bites them-way too late for them to do anything about it. The new law creates a chance to put a tough cop on the beat and provide real accountability and oversight of the consumer credit market. The time for hiding tricks and traps in the fine print is over. This new bureau is based on the simple idea that if the playing field is level and families can see what's going on, they will have better tools to make better choices.
How very controversial. You know who else likes "level playing fields"? The Communists, and Osama bin Laden.
It's sad, though, the resigned attitude Democrats have taken to Administration nominees who may or may not be controversial. Consider the Federal Reserve, where three of the seven board of governors' seats remain open, with nominees waiting in the wings for months, during a time of lingering economic crisis. But Sen. Chris Dodd doesn't really have the "appetite" to deal with their confirmations now. It wouldn't take an especially long time, is the thing, Chris Dodd. Ten, twenty minutes.
Anyway, good luck to Elizabeth Warren in this new construction advisor job!