Elizabeth Warren, Still Making All the Right Enemies

The more she’s written about, the more I admire Professor Warren. Today, she visited the Borg collective at its hive:

She never actually uttered “I come in peace,” but Elizabeth Warren, the Obama administration aide charged with setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, might have felt like an alien visiting an anxious planet Wednesday when she went to the United States Chamber of Commerce.
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“I do not consider myself in hostile territory right now because I believe we share a point of principle: competitive markets are good for consumers and for businesses,” Ms. Warren told about 300 executives at the chamber’s annual conference on capital markets. But, she added, “Markets don’t work in the way they are supposed to unless there are some well-enforced rules.” …
[…]
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Regulation and competition are not, she said, mutually exclusive. “In fact, when done right, they support each other,” Ms. Warren said. “Are the Chamber’s members, as citizens or business owners and executives, in a better place today because the F.A.A. regulates air safety, because the states regulate insurance companies, because the federal government enforces antitrust statutes? Of course they are. And so is this country.”

The Borg and its servants, needless to say, were not impressed:

The disagreements between Ms. Warren and one of her chief critics, Representative Spencer Bachus, Republican of Alabama and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, grew more heated hours after her address…
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On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Bachus released a seven-page document titled “Perspectives on Settlement Alternatives in Mortgage Servicing,” which, in a letter to Ms. Warren, he said demonstrated that she had a larger role than she had indicated to the committee. The letter was co-signed by Representative Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia and chairwoman of the subcommittee on financial institutions and consumer credit.
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Mr. Bachus, a consistent critic of both the consumer agency and Ms. Warren, filled that role again Wednesday when he addressed the Chamber of Commerce conference immediately before she spoke. Noting that he has introduced a bill to change the governance of the consumer bureau from a single director to a five-person, bipartisan commission, he characterized the powers given to the head of the consumer agency as unmatched in government.
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Ms. Warren was followed by Thomas J. Donohue, president and chief executive of the chamber, who warned that the consumer agency could choke off economic growth in the United States. “If not used carefully, the C.F.P.B.’s tremendous power to go after bad actors could cause serious collateral damage to America’s job creators,” he said.

Professor Warren may show admirable discipline in reiterating her “cop on the beat” meme, but her Robber Baron Republican opponents prefer their market-tested “OMG socialist finance-industry death panels!!!” approach. Last week’s hissy-fit from Mary Kissel, ex-Goldman Sachs, at the WSJ:

… Everyone knows that Ms. Warren and a handful of state attorneys general are driving this settlement to punish the banks and reward voters with mortgage principal writedowns, despite profound doubts among bank regulators at the Fed and the Comptroller of the Currency. Ms. Warren’s weak-little-bureau routine is belied by the fact that she is rolling over other regulators even before the bureau is formally up and running…
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Ms. Warren’s media idolators are trying to shield her from Congressional oversight precisely because they understand her lack of accountability. They, too, want to punish the banks one more time and grab another $20 billion to redistribute to voters before 2012. The banks and clutch of AGs are right to resist, and Congress ought to put Ms. Warren’s unaccountable bureau under Treasury with an annual budget—or, better, put it entirely out of business.

Punishing banks and rewarding voters! Just imagine! Perhaps the squid-clouds of butt-hurt emanating from these weasels may finally choke even the Very Serious Persons given the authority to discuss the range of acceptable opinion (center-right to far-right, but not extremely far right). Timothy Noah, at Slate, on how the Republicans cleared Elizabeth Warren’s path:

I have no idea whether President Obama plans to nominate Elizabeth Warren as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If you’d asked me a year ago whether he should, I’d have probably said no, on the grounds that she was too much of a lightning rod. Better to install somebody with a lower profile who can get confirmed, I’d have argued. And, besides (as I wrote in September), she had no real management experience.
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Now I think Obama should nominate Warren. Partly that’s because Warren, in her six months as de facto CFPB director (ahem, I mean “special adviser to the secretary of the treasury and assistant to the president”) has demonstrated sufficient political and managerial skills (inasmuch as anyone can demonstrate such skills while running an agency that hasn’t actually done anything yet). But mostly it’s because Republicans have talked me into it…
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Last week’s House oversight hearing was not unlike a Senate confirmation hearing; you might say it was a kind of dress rehearsal for Warren. I thought she handled the steady stream of Republican attacks with grace and common sense. Other coverage of the hearing reached the same conclusion. Warren has established herself as a known quantity and a capable administrator. It wouldn’t just be unfortunate for Obama to pass her over for director. It would be strategically unsound.

Today’s shenanigans reminded me very much of the stern, yet kindly, grandma telling a couple of spoilt five-year-olds that they could choose between chicken fingers or a hamburger with their salad, because “both cheese puffs and gummy bears” did not qualify as a balanced meal. To which the five-year-olds respond by throwing themselves into a full-metal tantrum, screaming they’re gonna call 911 and tell the policeman that the boo-boo where they hit the floor means she touched them inna bad place. The only way the five-year-olds win that argument is if some well-meaning third party gets nervous and offers a trip to Chuck E. Cheese as an alternative, because Grandma knows better than to take parenting lessons from five-year-olds.








Just start saying it

If there’s one phrase I hate it’s “mistakes were made”. Fuck the passive voice. Somebody made the mistakes and they should be named and shamed.

Let’s be clear, in layman’s terms, Republicans are getting ready to shut down the government. I don’t want to hear any of you saying “the government may be shut down” or “there may be a government shut down”. Democrats have met Republicans halfway on the budget. If Republicans don’t take the deal, the Republicans will have shut down the government.

Make no mistake.








Wisconsin Republicans Ignore Court Order; Insist the Budget Repair Bill Goes into Effect Tomorrow

What the hell, Wisconsin?

Apparently Scott Walker took Sarah Palin’s book title a little too literally; he has gone rogue.

After splitting the bill and jamming it through both houses without Democrats present, Wisconsin Republicans are now taking the position that the law goes into effect on Saturday even though just last week, a judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining any implementation of the law while the court considers several lawsuits challenging it. Here’s what happened as far as I understand it:

The Republicans jammed the bill through on March 9. Walker signed the bill on March 11. Secretary of State La Follette designated today as the date of publication. After the court issued the TRO, La Follette told the Reference Bureau (a non-partisan legislative bureau which publishes bills) that he was rescinding the publication date. The Reference Bureau published the law today anyway calling the publication “merely procedural,” and stating that it was required to publish the law within 10 working days of the governor signing the bill, on the date designated by the Secretary of State. (If La Follette rescinded the publication date, then why did the Reference Bureau publish it anyway? Inquiring minds want to know.)

In any event, and despite the Reference Bureau calling the publication “procedural” and categorically stating that publication does not equal implementation, the question becomes is that true?1 Is publication implementation or is it just a procedural measure? It’s a question the courts will have to answer.

Of course Walker and Cronies (specifically Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald) are claiming that the law has been published and therefore goes into effect tomorrow, which makes exactly zero sense since the judge enjoined its implementation. Fitzgerald is claiming — stupidly — that because the TRO does not reference the Reference Bureau specifically, that the TRO does not apply to the Reference Bureau.

That, comrades, is the dumbest shit I’ve ever heard. Essentially, the assholes in Wisconsin are trying to do an end-run around the court’s order. It’s pure gamesmanship, not likely to pass muster, and more than likely to piss off the court.

In non-legal terms, it’s BULLSHIT. The bullshittery becomes apparent when one reads the court’s order:

Read more








Open Thread: Wisconsin Chedda

Dave Weigel at Slate on Walker’s latest burst of grandious entitlement:

The two week sleep-in at the Wisconsin state capitol is over; protesters will no longer crash in the building. The decision comes after a court battle (a polite, short one) over whether it was legal for the state to limit access to the building, and the state’s case was that protesters were doing damage.
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[S]tate officials said that damage from the demonstration to the marble inside and outside the Capitol would cost an estimated $7.5 million: $6 million for damage inside, $1 million for damage outside and $500,000 for additional expenses.
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I’ve got my own call in on this. There’s no precedent for the occupation of the Capitol, nothing to compare this number to, but protesters were very conscious to limit damage to the building…
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The only times I looked at the Capitol and said “wow, this is going to need cleaning” were when I saw carpet in the rooms being used for strategy and protest-staging, like the third floor room occupied by teaching assistants. There wasn’t filth; there was just some of the liquid spatter and food crumbs you’d expect after two weeks of people living in these rooms. But will it cost $6 million to scrub the building’s carpets and floors? It’s worth checking back in a few months to see if this $7.5 million estimate actually panned out; also worth checking how much it usually costs to clean the building.

Maybe the Koch brothers had Blackwater Xe put in a no-bid contract for hand-scrubbing the floors with Fiji water…








IOKIYAR, “Charity” & Other Funding Edition

The NYTimes reports the current Republican twist on doing well by doing “good”:

Louisiana’s biggest corporate players, many with long agendas before the state government, are restricted in making campaign contributions to Gov. Bobby Jindal. But they can give whatever they like to the foundation set up by his wife months after he took office…
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Mrs. Jindal has won praise — and frequent positive newspaper coverage — as she travels Louisiana passing out free equipment to schools, many in lower-income areas. Her foundation spends almost all of the money it takes in to buy high-tech whiteboards installed so far in 50 schools.
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A spokesman for the governor said he had not personally intervened to help any of the charity’s corporate donors advance their agendas before the state government. Any suggestion that the foundation is a way to lobby the governor or thank him for a past action is ridiculous, Mr. Jindal’s press secretary said.
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“It is a completely nonpolitical, nonpartisan organization created by the first lady, who as an engineer and the mother of three children, has a passion for helping our young people learn science and math,” said Kyle Plotkin, the press secretary. “Anything other than this reality has plainly been dreamed up by partisan hacks living in a fantasy land.”
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Dow Chemical, which has pledged $100,000 to the foundation, is the largest petrochemical company in Louisiana and has had numerous interactions with state officials during the Jindal administration, including an investigation into a July 2009 spill at its St. Charles Parish plant that forced the evacuation of area homes. The state in December 2009 proposed fining the company and its Union Carbide subsidiary for allowing the release of a toxic pollutant and failing to quickly notify state authorities of the leak, but so far no fine has been assessed.
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