President Barack Obama managed to do an end run around the Senate again and placed Harvard law professor and liberal activist Elizabeth Warren as his choice to form the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
Liberals at Moveon.org cheered this move by the Obama administration, while the Chamber of Commerce shot out a statement on Friday remarking, “This may be a calculated move to help fire up some groups ahead of the mid-term elections, but it undermines the credibility and effectiveness of this already politicized new agency from day one.”
The new agency will have a half-billion dollar budget and regulatory powers to oversee mortgages, credit cards, and individual bank accounts. The administration and this new pick to construct yet another governmental body will talk transparency as their main objective (as she did in her interview with Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart), but the administration has set it up so that Congress cannot see if she is qualified for this job.
The D.C. based Americans for Tax Reform organization warned about the establishment of this particular agency that was to be set up through the Senate banking legislation that passed in May:
Senator Dodd’s “Wall Street Bailout” bill, S. 3217 the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, seeks to establish a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP). This Bureau violates consumer privacy, monitors personal bank transactions, and uses personal financial data to regulate consumer choice.
Established in Title 10, this new autonomous agency will be sheltered within the Federal Reserve, but will function independent of the current established traditional regulatory framework. Congress or any other agency will have no veto power over the BCFP.
Section 1017 of Title 10 provides their budget will be 12 percent of the 2009 Federal Reserve System Operating Budget, approximately $646 million. In 2008, the operating budget was $2.5 billion but increased $600 million to $3.1 billion for 2009. The 2009 budget baseline was used because it was the most inflated baseline in recent history.
Section 1022 on page 1028 gives the BCFP authority to monitor consumer financial patterns and, “implement and, where applicable, enforce Federal consumer financial law.” Specifically, Subsection C gives this agency authority to “gather information and activities of persons operating in consumer financial markets.”
Further, Section 1071 allows the BCFP to “use the data on branches and [individual and personal] deposit accounts…for any purpose.” Never before has the federal government actively sought to aggregate data on every single personal and business financial transaction in the U.S.until now.
Ms. Warren, pictured above with Arianna Huffington, Van Jones, and left-wing economist Paul Krugman, at Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World Gala on May 5, 2009 in New York City, (h/t Matthew Vadum at NewsReal) will not have to reveal her duties or responsibilities to Congress.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Reps. Darrel Issa (R-Vista) and Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) sent a letter to the White House on Friday requesting more information about what they called an ‘unusual arrangement’ that is ‘undermining congressional oversight.’
They asked for details such as Warren’s specific responsibilities and supervisory authority and urged Obama not to use executive privilege to prevent Warren from testifying before Congress.”
The administration may believe such a move will fire up the base to help struggling Democrats in the mid-term elections, but once again, this is preaching to the choir for Mr. Obama and his liberal allies. Independents are continuing to identify themselves as Republicans and that is a bigger problem. The new agency will be looked at as more wasteful government spending that invades our personal lives, and it is unlikely another left wing appointment will push most voters off their couches to vote for an incumbent Democrat who sided with the administration, Pelosi, and Reid come November.