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Republicans Side With Warren

Elizabeth Warren is supposed to be a divisive figure, someone that Republicans (and some Democrats) who want to protect bank profits would reject out of hand. And yet, Republicans who have worked with her closely on the Congressional Oversight Panel, monitoring the TARP, showered her with praise yesterday:

The two Republican appointees to the Congressional Oversight Panel, the group chaired by Warren that oversees the government’s $700 billion bank bailout program, issued a statement saying that while they disagreed with many of Warren’s views and opposed the creation of the consumer watchdog, they had found their dealings with her “to be collegial and professional.”

The pair praised Warren for conducting exhaustive investigations into the federal government’s rescue of firms such as American International Group and GMAC, even when those reviews produced results that didn’t always shine a glowing light on the Treasury Department.

“It is important to note that the panel has been critical of policies and decisions implemented by Democrats and Republicans alike,” wrote University of Kentucky economics Professor Kenneth Troske and J. Mark McWatters, a Dallas lawyer and certified public accountant, who serve on the five-member panel. “There is great virtue in that because, while it is easy to question the decisions made by members of the other political party, it takes courage to publicly question the decisions made by members of your own party.”

They added, “We often debate a wide variety of issues with Professor Warren and have found her quite willing to modify her views if presented with well-reasoned, cogent arguments.”

Troske and McWatters made the key point, that Warren is seemingly being avoided for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau job because as someone conducting oversight of TARP, she was critical of the Treasury Department who was implementing it. That’s precisely what you would want in a regulator, someone with the integrity to let the facts and not loyalty or good manners dictate their criticisms. She has proven hereself in the area of independent oversight. “What point is there in having a watchdog that is a blind supporter of, or an apologist for, the subject of its oversight,” Troske and McWatters conclude. “How can the public expect overseers to function in a transparent and accountable manner if subsequent political appointments become contingent on looking the other way?”

Troske and McWatters were chosen for the Congressional Oversight Panel by none other than Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.

In today’s Boston Globe, Charles Fried, solicitor general in the Reagan Administration, not only endorses Warren, but thinks she should get a recess appointment.

That’s where Elizabeth Warren comes in. Those who are lobbying hard against her nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Agency are the same people who lobbied against financial reform legislation and lost. They paint her as the enemy of capitalism and free markets. Nothing could be further from the truth: She is the enemy of dishonesty, abuse, and just plain theft.

Many of those who originated the toxic loans now poisoning the financial world were outright fraudsters, and many of those who bundled and purveyed those toxic assets in what amounted to a giant Ponzi scheme were no better than fences of stolen goods. Credit card companies for years have buried surprising fees, penalties, and interest rate increases in print so fine and terms so obscure that the borrowers most likely to be caught by them could not possibly understand them. That’s not capitalism; that’s fraud. To be the scourge of theft and fraud is to be the best friend of well-functioning markets.

As Shahien Nasiripour notes, Republicans in the Senate, who actually have a vote in the matter, have repeatedly praised Warren’s work, particularly Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Two Republicans, John Thune and Bob Corker, quoted Warren approvingly on the Senate floor last week (I don’t think those two will vote for her, but it’s a nice point in her favor).

In other words, when Chris Dodd says that Warren isn’t confirmable, what he actually means is that she isn’t confirmable to him.

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David Dayen

David Dayen