Boy, that Obama really knows how to play the 11-dimensional chess, huh? He really knows how to take the wind out of progressive sails — by sort of appointing Warren, but not taking the fight to the Republicans over consumer protections and quite possibly energizing the base (which still cares about things like consumer protection). Kind of like he pissed on it:
So what in the world does this mean? ABC News’ Jake Tapper has the Elizabeth Warren scoop of the year.
President Obama will announce this week that Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who first proposed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, will be named to a special position reporting to both him and to the Treasury Department and tasked with heading the effort to get the new federal agency standing, a knowledgeable Democrat told ABC News…
Naming Warren as an assistant or counselor to both the president and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner would allow the president to bypass a Senate confirmation process that could prove lengthy and contentious.
At first glance, the news seems sure to disappoint progressives who want Warren named as the first director of the CFPB, and are spoiling for a fight with the opposition over what would surely be a contested confirmation. Indeed, if Obama was looking for a way to define exactly what’s wrong with his presidency, he may have done it with this back-door, not-quite-an-appointment. Neither Obama’s supporters nor opponents will be satisfied with this move — just as neither were happy with the healthcare bill or bank reform. It feels weak.
If Obama was hoping to spur enthusiasm among the Democratic base that would get voters to the polls, this is not the way to do it. Instead of inspiring cheers, this news is sure to hit with a dull thud.
On the other hand, if “heading the effort” means that Warren is actually entrusted with real authority to “get the new federal agency standing” — including the ability to pick staff, set an agenda, and start actively going about the business of protecting consumers — then isn’t that actually what Warren supporters want? A long drawn-out confirmation fight with no guarantee of success results in no immediate progress. At least now, Warren can get to work. Could this possibly be a version of the Warren loophole discussed earlier this week, in which, under the Dodd-Frank bill, the Treasury has the power to appoint an interim director of the CFPB without Senate confirmation?
Is this man willing to fight for anything? Other than his need to make corporations happy, I mean. Why didn’t he just make a recess appointment? Bush did it all the time. Was he afraid a Republican might say “Boo!”?
More importantly, will Warren have any real power? Or is this some kind of sham?