Consumer Advocate, One-Time CU Foe Elizabeth Warren Named Consumer Czar

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WASHINGTON – President Obama will bypass the contentious Senate confirmation process and name Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren to a special advisory role today setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created based on her ideas.

Warren has a long history of consumer advocacy, mostly on behalf of consumer bankruptcy filers, and fought hard against the credit unions and banks over a ten-year period that ended with the bankruptcy reform bill of 2005. More recently, Warren has been serving as chairman of the Troubled Asset Relief Program Oversight Panel.

Under her new position, Warren will serve as an assistant to the president and special adviser to the secretary of the Treasury on the new consumer bureau, which was created as part of the bank reform bill and based on Warren’s own writings.

The presidential appointment is seen as a way by the White House to avoid a contentious confirmation in the Senate if the President were to name Warren, who is avidly opposed by Republicans, as director of the new agency.

Warren said this morning that she “enthusiastically agreed” with President Obama’s request that she play a special advisory role in creating the consumer agency. “The new consumer bureau is based on a pretty simple idea,” said Warren in a White House blog this morning, “people ought to be able to read their credit card and mortgage contracts and know the deal. They shouldn't learn about an unfair rule or practice only when it bites them-way too late for them to do anything about it. The new law creates a chance to put a tough cop on the beat and provide real accountability and oversight of the consumer credit market. The time for hiding tricks and traps in the fine print is over."

The new bureau will be housed inside the Federal Reserve and have ultimate jurisdiction over all financial consumer matters, including rule-writing, enforcement and compliance, though existing financial regulators, like NCUA, will continue to examine credit unions for compliance with consumer laws.

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