Scope of Power

Seems that no one’s quite sure what powers Elizabeth Warren will have:

President Barack Obama plans Friday to appoint Harvard Law School professor to the position. Ms. Warren first proposed the idea of a consumer financial-products regulator in 2007, and many Democrats wanted her to be the first person to lead the agency, a body created by the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law enacted in July.

Because she will instead be a senior adviser, Ms. Warren won’t have the full powers that a Senate-confirmed director of the agency might have. She would be joining a team of administration officials who have already begun taking steps to create the new agency, and whether she takes over the effort or plays an advisory role remains unclear.

Business and consumer groups pored over the law Thursday to try to understand what precisely she could and couldn’t do.

Lawyers were scrutinizing a two-paragraph section of the Dodd-Frank law (Section 1066), which suggests Treasury’s powers setting up the agency might extend only to areas such as transferring employees and other powers from existing agencies. In other words, Treasury—and Ms. Warren by extension—might not have broad authority to write new rules and guidelines. In fact, the law says only that “The Director may prescribe rules and issue orders and guidance.

“We’ve asked our legal brain trust to look into it, and they haven’t gotten back to us yet,” said Ed Mierzwinski, director of the consumer program at the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, a consumer advocacy group.

Another great victory for Obama obfuscation!

2 thoughts on “Scope of Power

  1. DailyKos reports that Warren didn’t want the permanent director’s position. She could still help to write the rules, but those rules would then have to be adopted by the new director.

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