The Lady Terrifies Them

Read the Dodd-Frank Law, Mr. McHenry

No one talks back to Chairman Patrick McHenry when testifying before his congressional oversight committee. That is, no one except Elizabeth Warren. He is the Republican representative from North Carolina. She is the Harvard professor temporarily appointed to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

She is particularly irksome to McHenry because she knows what she is talking about. Warren is an expert on corporate mismanagement, in particular why corporations fail and how they abuse consumers. McHenry did not want to talk about how the bureau might help consumers. He tried a complaint about her “providing advice to the Treasury Secretary.”* (The law creating the bureau makes that part of her job.)

McHenry accused the lady of not keeping her word: She had agreed to testify for one hour. During the hour McHenry wanted to adjourn and have her wait as long as it took him to return The lady said no: She had agreed to one hour and had work to do. In fairness to McHenry, he too has work to do: His Republican colleagues are adamantly opposed to Warren becoming the permanent appointment because the financial services industry is terrified of her: She might come up with regulations to reduce abuses of consumers by financial institutions. The word keeps anti-consumerist lobbyists up at night

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is slated to officially open for business on July 21. A lot of representatives and senators—Democrats and Republicans—would go along with hamstringing that bureau as they have with so many others, i.e., create the bureau but deny it the resources to do its job.

What should consumers do? Form another organization? Don’t waste your time. Instead, email your congressional representatives and senators to let them know how you feel about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Elizabeth Warren as its permanent bureau chief. Want model letters? See the Consumerist Resources navigation button to use my emails to a representative and senator.

*As reported by Edward Wyatt, Hearing Over a Consumer Bureau Descends Into Sharp Accusations, NYT, May 25, page B1. Also see Joe Nocera’s An Advocate Who Scares Republicans, NYT, March 18, 2011.


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