WASHINGTON – White House senior adviser David Axelrod said this afternoon that Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren was “obviously a candidate” to lead a new consumer protection bureau.
The head of the new bureau is one of the most far-reaching new positions created by the financial legislation Congress gave final approval to yesterday. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation next week and begin implementing various provisions of the 2,300-page bill.
“Elizabeth Warren is a great, great champion for consumers,” Axelrod said this afternoon in a conference call. “She’s obviously a candidate to lead this effort. There are other candidates as well, but Elizabeth is certainly a candidate.”
Warren, who first proposed creating the bureau, declined to comment on whether she would seek the appointment. Warren is a professor at Harvard Law School who is currently on leave to head the Congressional Oversight Panel, which has been a watchdog over the Treasury Department's bank bailout fund.
She has had several influential advocates, including Representative Barney Frank, the Newton Democrat and chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
“I’ve told the administration she would absolutely be a fantastic choice,’’ Frank said in a recent interview.
For average Americans, the bureau is likely to be one of the most visible aspects of the massive financial overhaul. The bureau is designed to protect consumers, and will craft new rules related to everyday transactions involving credit cards, checking accounts, and mortgages.
The new position will be appointed by the president, and confirmed by the Senate. Until the first director is confirmed, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would have authority over the agency.
Huffington Post reported last night on tensions between Geithner and Warren. Citing an anonymous source, the left-leaning blog reported that Geithner has expressed opposition to Warren’s possible nomination.
Geithner, through a spokesperson, praised Warren this afternoon as "exceptionally well qualified to lead the new bureau."
"Elizabeth Warren has been a driving force behind the creation of the consumer financial protection bureau, and we have worked very closely with her over the past year and a half to make that idea a reality," said Andrew Williams, a Treasury spokesman. "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."
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About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.