A Good Effort Spoiled: Elizabeth Warren and the CFPB

  • JJ Hornblass
  • March 17, 2011
  • 1

If only.

If only Elizabeth Warren and President Obama took a different course when creating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

There is no doubt that the need for the CFPB was and is acute, and there are many reasons why, most notably because the financial compliance apparatus broke down so severely in the early 2000s. But why Warren even allowed herself to become the doyenne of the CFPB without congressional approval I will never understand. The extra-political installation of Warren at the helm of the CFPB, I fear, will stain the bureau for a long time to come. Certainly, it has opened the CFPB to the type of criticism The Wall Street Journal heaped on it today. The Journal blasts Warren and the CFPB for its:

> Lack of overall oversight;

> Lack of budget appropriations; and

> Too expansive jurisdiction and independence.

The Journal concludes with these demands: 

This is no way to run a government, especially not one that Madison envisioned. The consumer bureau is essentially a bureaucratic rogue. We’d like to see Congress kill the agency entirely. But at the very least Congress should remove it from the Fed, make it part of the Treasury and subject it to annual appropriations.

How disingenuous is Warren with the stain of a usurped political process on her record? This from arguably the most eloquent voice of lament over the federal government’s regulatory failures. I’ve watched with equal parts surprise and lament over Warren’s systematic meet-and-greet with executives from nearly every major financial services company in the nation since her assumption at the CFPB. The guise is to be “fair” to all sides, but is the need, in part, because of her tainted appointment? The Journal rightly says that beyond the CFPB’s effectively rogue framework, “The affront is compounded by President Obama’s decision to evade the spirit of the law by letting Ms. Warren set up the bureau without Senate confirmation.” I agree, and I don’t think Warren can excuse this subversive track to some confounding argument about needing to get the job done. With the political sleight of hand used to appoint Warren, the CFPB starts its fully vested — and crucial — efforts in July with a bloody nose.


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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at hornblass@gmail.com or 212-564-8972.

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One thought on “A Good Effort Spoiled: Elizabeth Warren and the CFPB

  1. An interesting post this morning about how The Wall Street Journal attacks on Warren are originating from an ex-Goldman analyst.

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