Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Some Have Not Sold Out

Digby, half-seriously, has posted a blog she titles "Elizabeth Warren for President." There has been plenty of cause for this sentiment, even before the Harvard law professor was appointed chairwoman of the Congressional Oversight Panel, the watchdog of the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Now Warren has weighed in on the negotiations over establishment of a federal consumer financial protection agency, arguing

My first choice is a strong consumer agency. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.

Clearly, that is how Barack Obama should have approached the health care fight, acting as if he were President, staking out the position he held, and forcing the opposition to compromise with him.

Digby notes admiringly of Warren "I'm sure she's thought of in the same way Brooksley Born was --- "not a team player."

Appropriate she should mention the former head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In a profile ("The Contrarian") written about Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation chairwoman Sheila Bair for last July's New Yorker, Ryan Lizza noted that Bair had received a Profile in Courage award at the Kennedy Library in Boston and

One of her fellow-recipients was Brooksley Born, a former Clinton Administration official who had tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade her colleagues to regulate derivatives such as credit-default swaps.

This would make of Born one of the heroines of the crisis in the financial services industry. When she headed the CFTC (under President Clinton), she pushed regulation of the financial industry, but was stymied by Alan Greenspan, Robert Rubin, and Larry Summers.

Sheila Bair was a member of the CFTC during a portion (1991-1995) of Born's tenure. In 2006 she was appointed chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation where, according to Lizza, "she earned a reputation in the banking industry as an activist regulator." In the latter portion of President Bush's second term, she advocated a taxpayer-funded plan to modify loans which, not surprisingly, did not amuse Treasury Secretary Paulson, a friend to Wall Street.

And she hasn't been popular with the good-ole boys on the Obama team either. Lizza quotes Bloomberg News as noting that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, he previously of the New York Fed, as seeking to force Bair out because she- you guessed it- "isn't a team player."

We have a pretty good idea what it takes to be a "team player" amongst the likes of Larry Summers, Tim Geithner, and Ben Bernanke- and it isn't individuals such as Sheila Bair or Elizabeth Warren. There are others in and about the Obama Administration- Paul Volcker is an obvious example- who don't believe everything must be of, by, and for Wall Street. Still, it is interesting that the Republican Bair and the Democrats Born and Warren have one obvious thing in common- they're all women. It may be only a coincidence but, surely, none of the three has been "one of the boys."

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