CNBC reports that the White House is struggling to fill the director’s chair for both the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of Financial Research. Harvard professor and Obama adviser Elizabeth Warren may not have the stranglehold on the former, as was once thought, while multiple candidates for the latter position have balked at the prospect of six years of political infighting. Without clear leadership, both organizations will at best be all sound and fury, signifying nothing but the status quo for financially bruised consumers.
Fighting for political turf turns off OFR, CFPB candidates
The Office of Financial Research, which was established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, will be charged with improving the quality of financial data available to policymakers, such as information regarding credit cards, cash advances and the payday cash advance industry.
However, if the White House fails to fill the leadership chair, the OFR will never reach its potential. Such high-profile candidates as Yale economist Robert Shiller (of Case-Shiller Home Price Index) have excused themselves from White House consideration because they think the six-year commitment and Washington war games aren’t worth the hassle.
An anonymous source close to the appointment process told CNBC that the OFR post requires a very particular type.
The position “needs a tough-guy-like attorney” who isn’t afraid of dogfights, said the source.
Check your radical pro-consumer agenda at the door
Republican critics of Elizabeth Warren claim that she’d be inappropriate for the office of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director because of a “radical pro-consumer agenda” that would drown every consumer finance industry from credit card companies to payday cash advance lenders in penalty fees. Even though Prof. Warren is very close to the appointment process – President Obama has put her in charge of the search – Republicans and now even some Democrats and Independents are uncertain that Warren’s appointment would be confirmed.
Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire told ABC News that even considering Elizabeth Warren for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau position is “a terrible adulteration of the process.” Such big-budget power (estimated as high as $500 million) in the hands of an appointee that can operate outside the bounds of Congressional oversight is unacceptable, said Gregg.
“My concern is that she would use the agency for the purposes of promoting social justice versus for the purposes of promoting better credit and having a stronger financial system,” said Gregg.
Enter Richard Shelby
Senate Republican Richard Shelby, the senior GOP member of the Senate banking committee, is considered the top Republican choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. According to ABC News, Shelby vetoed the nomination of Joseph Smith to the Federal Housing Finance Administration and opposed appointing Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond to the Federal Reserve board. Clearly, Shelby knows how to oppose Democrat-favored appointees.
‘Consumers need a cop on the beat’