Elizabeth Warren — December 14, 2014 at 9:37 am

Elizabeth Warren is the middle class’ firewall against Wall Street


If you want to know how bad next year’s budget battles will be, check out EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy telling Politico‘s Mike Grunwald how she’s “pleased” that this year’s budget, which cuts her agency’s staffing to 1989 levels, only mildly guts her agency.

Then, if you want to be eat-a-whole-gallon-of-cookie-dough-ice-cream depressed, read The Fiscal Times‘ David Dayen detailing how the “CRomnibus Disaster Signals a Sad New Normal in D.C.”

Dayen’s kicker sums up the situation, “In other words, elections have consequences.”

Democrats still managed to protect a good many things this year — but the budget rider authored by Citigroup is clearly a huge symbolic defeat for those who wish to reign in the abuses that caused the last financial crisis. It’s a giveaway to Wall Street with a huge implied public subsidy now backing risky derivative trading.

Republicans haven’t even taken over the Senate yet. So why not shut down the government to stop it? If you’re not willing to fight for this, then what?

You can argue that what Elizabeth Warren has done was more effective. She opposed the compromise, raised focused the nation’s attention on Citigroup’s last minute addition to the bill and made the speech above, which is still making waves.

“So let me say this to anyone who is listening at Citi: I agree with you. Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect,” she said. “It should have broken you into pieces.”

Labor historian Richard Yeselson tweeted, “I can’t remember a mainstream, ie, two party, politician saying something like this in my adult memory.”

Warren’s nod to trust-busting of the late 19th century seems apt to many who feel we are fumbling toward (or are in) an new Gilded Age. More than anyone in America today, she speaks eloquently on how businesses depend on public resources and have a responsibility to the workers who create their profits.

Inspired by her spirit and rhetoric, MoveOn and Democracy for America are launching an effort to draft Warren into the 2016 presidential race.

For some, the senior senator from Massachusetts is a natural choice over Hillary Clinton, who they see as too close to big business and too hawkish on foreign policy.

For others, raising Warren’s profile is a way to move Clinton to the left — an effort that seems successful considering her embrace of Warren-like rhetoric on the campaign trail and a firmer line on climate change.

For others, like me, who are fans of Warren and Hillary, it’s a win-win.  Democrats have two viable female presidential candidates to become the next president, who could nominate up to four Justices to the Supreme Court.  And even if the Senator doesn’t run, a more influential Warren is good for America — especially given what Republicans will attempt to do when they control both houses of Congress.

This derivatives rider is terrible precedent and policy. But it takes trading that’s already being done in places it allows it in FDIC-insured banks. If you think that’s as bad a Republicans are going to get, just wait.

There are tremendous victories from 2009-2010 that need to be preserved.

Chief among them the Affordable Care Act and the bulk of Dodd-Frank including Warren’s brainchild the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which have saved consumers and taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by taking on the scam mentality that led to the financial crisis.

President Obama’s use of regulatory power to build on the the Stimulus to forge “the most, aggressive far-reaching environmental legacy of any occupant of the White House” is definitely at risk.

The GOP’s effort to limit the good a Democratic president can do will not end soon. Barring a massive political shift in this nation, the GOP will likely hold at least the House until 2022, if not beyond.

Warren has laid down a line: Attempt to weaken Dodd-Frank and I’ll do my best to raise the kind of hell even the biggest banks, which are bigger now than before the crisis, can’t afford.

You can argue that her resistance has made the president stronger for next year’s battles.

“With the near-collapse of the CRomnibus, Elizabeth Warren and House Democrats gave him a lot more ammunition to tell Republicans there there are deals he simply can’t sell to his liberal wing, and so will have to veto,” Vox’s Ezra Klein wrote.

And even someone at the Wall St. Journal is thinking the big banks picked a battle that wasn’t worth winning.

“Yes, they secured an advantage,” John Carney wrote. “But they have also galvanized Wall Street’s critics and potentially squandered political capital being rebuilt following the financial crisis.”

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