Elizabeth Warren vs. Timothy Geithner
A lot of people have rightfully scolded Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for attempting to block Elizabeth Warren's nomination to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Here's what I have to add: What a whiny cry-baby wimp. Geithner only has to answer to two people, the President of the United States and the Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Only one of those people openly criticizes him in public when he commits unbelievable, disastrous errors. Guess which one? So of course Geithner is pushing against Warren. She holds him accountable to the public, and he doesn't want to be held accountable. Geithner is acting like a vindictive baby, trying to dish-out some payback at someone who highlighted very real failures that he himself orchestrated (stress tests, foreclosures, AIG . . . nearly everything that was screwed up under TARP). He deserves the public flogging he's receiving, and he really ought to be stripped of his post for so transparently playing personal politics with national policy. Incidentally, this embarassing little farce of Geithner's should give Warren morecredibility to head the new bureau. It proves that she is willing to stand up to powerful people and make them uncomfortable, which is exactly what the head of the CFPB will have to do in order to be effective. The Warren appointment really will be a litmus test for the Obama administration. It's not a progressive litmus test-- she's profoundly popular on the left, right and center, because she understands working people and is one of the few public figures willing to defend them against Wall Street lobbyists. But it will be a test of whether Obama can do the right thing in the face of opposition from a single, powerful corporate interest group (bankers). Business does not oppose her-- small businesses, in fact, love her, because they know she'll stand up for them against unscrupulous lenders. It's really just the big banks that are allied against her. And Warren is so clearly the best candidate for the job-- she invented the very idea of a consumer regulator for finance-- that appointing anyone else will be a transparent political ploy. If Obama doesn't have the guts to stand behind an enormously popular and effective public figure in the face of opposition from the very industry she will be charged with regulating, it will say a great deal about his capacity as a leader.