Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who will lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?

Yesterday's Politico reported buzz about the possibility of Representative Melissa Bean (D-Ill, right) being floated as a potential nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when it goes live in July 2011:

MELISSA BEAN FLOATED AS CFPB HEAD – Buzz on Friday had Rep. Melissa Bean (D-Ill.) possibly getting tapped as the first Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head depending on the outcome of her too-close-to-call reelection race, in which Republican Joe Walsh maintained a slight lead as of Sunday afternoon. But a possible Bean nomination is not sitting well with reformers on the left who say the moderate Illinois congresswoman is far too close to the banking industry. Said one administration official: “It’s not clear she would be acceptable to the reformers.”

On her blog FireDogLake, Jane Hamsher lists eight reasons why she believes it's "one of the most morally and politically bankrupt ideas of all time." They include the fact that on a number of occasions in the past couple of years she has actively worked to weaken consumer protection initiatives in the financial services market as well as fight better regulation of the financial services industry. Hamsher also noted the significant campaign contributions received by Bean from the US Chamber of Commerce and the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors. Perhaps most troubling is that Bean authored an amendment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau legislation (not adopted) that would have neutered it by giving an exemption to federally chartered financial institutions, in other words, the culprits responsible for most of the predatory lending practices in the first place.

Bean's name is being floated as a "more mainstream" alternative to Harvard legal scholar Elizabeth Warren who currently services as a special assistant to President Obama and an advisor to Timothy J. Geitner, Secretary of the US Treasury. Warren has thirty years of research experience in consumer finance and has largely been responsible for creating the legislation that is intended to bring the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau into existence.

Here is a clip of Warren being interviewed recently on the Rachel Maddow Show: