Wall Street Worries Over Elizabeth Warren's Appointment by Obama

President Obama expected to put Warren in charge of consumer protection agency

September 16, 2010, 2:15 PM

September 16, 2010 — -- President Barack Obama is expected to announce Friday that Elizabeth Warren will lead the consumer financial protection agency, news greeted on Wall Street by a gnashing of the teeth.

Three years ago, Warren wrote a journal article describing a federal agency to protect consumers from hidden fees and predatory practices in financial products like credit cards and mortgages. That idea became law in July.

Warren, currently the Congressional overseer of the Wall Street bailout funds, has become the nemesis of many financial CEOs.

On "The Daily Show," Warren jokingly told comedian Jon Stewart that she wanted to tell Wall Street titans, "What part of 'We bailed you out' do you not understand?"

Warren Criticizes Big Banks, Credit Companies

Warren, a former Sunday school teacher, has been unsparing in her criticism of big banks and credit card companies, having spent years researching bankruptcies and finding behind them tragic tales of illness, broken homes, and financial predators

"For thirty years, the middle class has been served up to financial institutions as the turkey at the Thanksgiving dinner," Warren told "World News" in March. "You know, just carve off a piece here and carve off a piece there, sell them whatever product you want and rake in the profits."

Wall Street CEOs, with billions in profits at stake, are terrified as to what Warren might do and whether she will use her new role to advance social justice or a stronger financial system.

"The large Wall Street banks that really run these credit cards have been able to borrow from the American taxpayer through the Fed, what is effectively zero percent interest," Warren said in March. "So what are they doing with credit cards? The answer is they often tripled interest rates."

David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness, said that Warren's choices could alienate his organization and others like it.

"The issue is what will she do with this power," Hirschmann said. "If this is about taking away choices for consumers in the marketplace, count us out."

Warren, the daughter of a janitor from Oklahoma, has seen firsthand the devastation from foreclosure and debt.

"Millions of American families are living one pink slip, one bad diagnosis away from complete economic collapse," Warren said in March.

Liberal groups have signed petitions and even made rap videos to urge the President to appoint her to head the new consumer financial protection bureau calling her "Sheriff Warren."

She is revered by progressives for tough stance on the Wall Street bailout.

In Michael Moore's film, "Capitalism: A Love Story," Warren said that the "Treasury followed a don't ask, don't tell policy. They didn't ask the banks what they were going to do with the money. And not having asked them, the banks are not required to tell."

Media entrepreneur Arianna Huffington called Elizabeth Warren "a real American heroine who is actually driving this reform."

For better or worse, Warren is on a mission.

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