Today was a great day for advocates of consumer protection and financial reform. President Obama's signing of the Dodd-Frank bill into law marks the most significant regulatory reform of Wall Street in generations. But no sooner than the ink had dried started the campaign by over-zealous groups like "Progressive Change Campaign Committee" to discredit Treasury Secretary Geithner, in the form of a petition urging the President to appoint Elizabeth Warren, the Chair of the Congressional oversight panel of the TARP funds, as the head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the new law.
Let me be absolutely clear: I see Elizabeth Warren as the leading choice for the job. I back her strongly and unequivocally, and I will be reaching out to my members of Congress and the White House to urge their support. That is not the point here.
PCCC is going around collecting signatures on its petition on the basis of a charge with no good evidence - that Treasury Secretary Geithner is opposing Warren, and thus they (PCCC) are "help[ing] her fight back."
Their petition page makes the charge explicitly as well.
Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is advising the White House not to put Elizabeth Warren in charge of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- a watchdog agency she invented!This charge is utterly without proper sourcing and evidence - in fact there is evidence to the contrary. Now I'm sure PCCC and Forrest Brown will point to a Huffington Post report from July 15 asserting that Tim Geithner opposes Warren's nomination based on a single, unnamed source. But let's get real. Organizations that want to lead people to action have a responsibility to make sure that the information they are giving to their supporters is both accurate and current. It has been six days since the Huffington Post report, and conveniently, the "bold progressives" were too timid to check the news subsequently.
The Boston Globe reported today that the charge is utterly without evidence.
The online petition created by Warren's supporters suggests - without evidence - that Warren is opposed by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. "Tim Geithner is a longtime Wall Street insider, and if he's recommending against Elizabeth Warren that's all the more reason to appoint her," the petition says.That's not all. A day after the HuffPost report, Reuters reported a Treasury spokesperson indicating what could be seen as even an endorsement of Warren.
Administration officials denied that Geithner has opposed Warren's nomination [...]
"Given her strong leadership on consumer protection, Secretary Geithner believes that Elizabeth Warren is exceptionally well qualified to lead the new bureau, and, ultimately, that's a decision the president will have to make," Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams said.But maybe Forrest Brown only (and I'm sure, "boldly") reads the Huffington Post But wait. The same reporter that reported the earlier "unnamed source" story from Huffington Post reported on this apparent praise (if not support) from Treasury and the White House of Warren's.
"I think Elizabeth is absolutely terrific," Michael Barr, the Treasury Department's assistant secretary for financial institutions, told reporters Friday during a conference call. "She's been working closely with me and with Secretary [Timothy] Geithner now for a year and a half to get this financial reform passed, to push for a strong consumer financial protection agency.It doesn't sound to me like Secretary Geithner is opposing Warren, does it to you? Everything on the record tells us that Geithner would not oppose the appointment of Warren. We keep hearing of him expressing concerns "privately," but can find not even one named source, let alone a reputable one.
"She's a leading figure in the field," Barr continued, "and Secretary Geithner believes and I believe she's extremely well-qualified to run the agency."
Some might point to the fact that Warren and Geithner have played sometimes somewhat adversarial roles in TARP. Warren has been an overseer of Geithner in her capacity as the Chair of the Congressional task force overseeing TARP, and she has done her job well, including asking tough questions of Geithner. But that oversight role alone is not evidence that Geithner is opposing her potential nomination. I understand that Geithner's background as the former New York Fed President makes him a favorite pinata for some ideologues. But nor can that be a ground to accuse him of things without evidence.
The person who has cast doubts on Warren's prospects is not Geithner. It's Sen. Dodd - not by opposing her, but by casting doubt on her prospect of gaining Senate confirmation. The White House, however, has held firm on their view that Warren can be confirmed.
But opposition in the Senate could make Warren's confirmation difficult, a point Dodd made in a radio interview on NPR Monday. White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage said that while the administration has additional candidates in mind, "We are confident she is confirmable."I have said it before, and I will say it again. Why is an organization that touts to be "bold" so timid to keep up with current and accurate information? I am tired of the PCCC bunch not doing their homework and constantly misleading their own supporters. In summation, I am tired of PCCC not doing its homework.
Progressives should be on the same boat here. Everyone ought to be pushing for the appointment and confirmation of Elizabeth Warren. Because she is the best person for the job and she is an amazing watchdog and public servant - not because we have some beef with Geithner and someone told us that this will be a way to fight Geithner. Let's fight for Warren, not against Geithner. So here's my advice - reach out to your member of Congress, your Senators, and the White House in strong support of Elizabeth Warren, but stop trusting PCCC to give you full, current and accurate information.