President Obama plans to avoid a Senate battle over controversial liberal activist Elizabeth Warren by allowing her to oversee the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the White House. An announcement could come today or tomorrow, according to reports.
The move is the second such abuse of the Constitution by the White House in just weeks. Having gotten away with a appointing the equally controversial Donald Berwick to oversee Medicare while Congress was in recess, Obama has again dispensed with the Senate’s right to provide its “consent” to appointees by making Warren a White House aide, a post which does not require confirmation.
From there, she will unofficially oversee the agency while a figurehead is eventually put in place to nominally run it. With Warren’s appointment, Obama adds to his extraordinary roster of “czars” who wield power from the Executive Mansion without having to be confirmed or even ever testify before Congress after being put in place.
If the White House wants to be especially crass, it could also nominate her at some point and have her effectively running the agency while awaiting confirmation.
Obama apparently thinks his agenda is too important to be bothered with the quaint conventions of Constitutional democracy. “The stakes are too high to delay the standing up of this agency,” said an official who gave the story to the Times.
Like Berwick, who has deep affection for the British nationalized health care system, among other contentious opinions, Warren would have faced determined opposition from Republicans and a rancorous nomination fight that would have put Obama policies in a harsh spotlight.
But the “openness” administration has apparently decided to get her in place without having to incur a thorough, public examination of her views that would have been conducted by the Senate and journalists covering the hearings. She will avoid having herself to give a public accounting, and the stories about her will quickly die away after this week.
How much have you seen written lately about Berwick?
Warren is feared by the business community as overly ardent in her defense of consumers. She was heavily promoted within the White House by senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett – whom she’ll now be hanging out with at the water cooler – and has clashed with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and her appointment may be a bad omen for his future.
But failure to appoint Warren would have ignited Obama’s allies on the left, who have been aggressively pressing the White House to put her in place.