By Sharon Johnson
WeNews senior correspondent
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Obama's temporary appointment of Elizabeth Warren as startup head of Wall Street's consumer regulatory group is seen as a way of circumnavigating her political foes. But onlookers say she has time to make her mark and help Obama on Nov. 2
(WOMENSENEWS)--Legal scholars predict that the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to lead the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection will be a boon for everyday Americans, especially low-income women who have struggled with crushing credit card, student loan and other debts.
"Warren brings a lifetime of pioneering research on issues ranging from the financial impact of divorce on families headed by single mothers to the financial vulnerability of older Americans on fixed incomes who struggle with credit card debts," said
Robert Lawless, professor of law at the University of Illinois in Champaign. "These studies are important to an agency that will have the ability to crack down on deceptive practices in the financial services industry."
The temporary nature of Warren appointment--she's only supposed to serve for nine-months--has been widely seen as hedge against congressional opposition to approving her for a permanent term.
But Barbara A. Perry, senior fellow at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, said President Obama's Sept. 17 appointment of the Harvard Law School bankruptcy expert will pay off in the Nov. 2 election.
"Like President Kennedy who stood up to the steel companies when they tried to increase prices in 1962, Obama will find that his performance ratings and the Democrats' chances for retaining seats in Congress will be enhanced by appointing a strong woman who won't allow the banks to push around consumers," said Perry, a presidency expert who is currently researching a book on Rose Kennedy
Perry also said voters will identify with Warren's up-by-the-bootstraps biography.
Warren's parents lost their life savings when her father's business partner in a car dealership took off with the money. After that her father worked as a maintenance man and her mother as a clerk at Sears. Warren married her high school sweetheart at age 19, and completed law school at Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., while raising the couple's two children.
As assistant to the president and special advisor to the Treasury secretary, Warren will be responsible for all aspects of the bureau that is assuming the regulatory power for consumer rights now vested in the Federal Reserve, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other agencies.
Although 19 senators had supported appointment of Warren to a five-year term as director, the White House opted for a temporary appointment, which will end in July. Senate Banking Chair Christopher Dodd (Democrat of Connecticut) had warned that Warren could not win 60 votes for confirmation because of opposition from Republicans and the financial services industry.
Lawless predicted that even if Warren's tenure is short she could leave her mark on the institution through the staff she recruits and leaves behind. "As a professor, Warren encouraged a generation of young people to go into bankruptcy, consumer credit, and business law and developed their talents, so they now have the skills to enable the agency to achieve long-term success," he said.
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