Friday, September 17, 2010

The Appoinment that Isn't

President Obama appointed Harvard bankruptcy law professor Elizabeth Warren to serve as special assistant to the president, presumably to avoid a tough confirmation battle in the Senate if he gave her the job he really wants her to do: Director of the newly created Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.

Professor Warren is without question a very smart, hard hitting champion for the middle class. The whole thrust of her consumer protection vision is that the working guy can’t be expected to read the small print and that it’s time government started “looking out for the folks.” On the merits of her ideas, I can see why the banks are nervous. And I can see why turf-protecting administrators in DC are nervous. But apart from partisan knee-jerkism (and maybe there is nothing happening in DC apart from that), I don’t see a valid objection to her appointment as bureau director. Although I don’t agree with the way she proposes to protect the folks, I greatly admire that she has staked her career on what I see as a noble and selfless project. If we are going to have a new $500 million federal agency to pile more regulation on the consumer credit industry that will have no effect on consumers’ appetite for crack, she’s as qualified as anyone. At least I have a pretty good feeling that her hand will not be in the till.

I also have the feeling that nobody can afford crack and the crack dealers are packing up their tents anyway.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Professor Warren will see the light and understand that consumer protection is best accomplished by simplified, straightforward, common sense regulation designed to provide meaningful disclosure to facilitate comparison shopping for credit, not by piling on more incomprehensible regulations with landmines to be exploited by "consumer advocates". Believe it or not, lenders actually want to make loans with reasonable terms to creditworthy borrowers, but many are understandably gun-shy about being held retroactively responsible for assessments by others about "suitability". Of course, the increasing complexity of the regulatory environment makes for better job security for some of us, but I'm not sure that the nation benefits.
Linwood Claremont Neighbors, J.D.