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September 17, 2010 / J. Shaw

Obama -Appointment-Warren to Avoid Confirmation Hearings

Obama Picks Warren to Set Up Consumer Bureau

Elizabeth Warren, who conceived of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, was appointed by President Obama on Friday to oversee its establishment.

The appointment will allow Ms. Warren, a Harvard law professor, to effectively run the new agency without having to go through a potentially contentious confirmation battle in the Senate. The creation of the bureau is a centerpiece of the Wall Street financial overhaul that Mr. Obama signed in July.

Ms. Warren was named an assistant to the president, a designation that is held by senior White House staff members, including Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff. She will also be a special adviser to the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, and report jointly to Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner.

The financial regulation law delegated to the Treasury Department the powers of the bureau until a permanent director was appointed and confirmed by the Senate to a five-year term.

While the appointment does not preclude the possibility that Ms. Warren could eventually be named director, it does allow her to play a pivotal role in deciding whom to appoint.

Ms. Warren, 61, an authority on bankruptcy law, has developed a following among liberals for her writings and advocacy on behalf of working-class and middle-class families. She has described their financial strains in two books, one of them written with her daughter.

But she has drawn fire from financial institutions for her persistent attacks on abusive, deceptive and unfair lending practices; some banking executives believe she has been overly broad in criticizing those practices.

Labor unions and consumer advocacy groups called Ms. Warren particularly suited for the job she helped to create, and have lobbied the White House for months to make the appointment official.

The bureau will consolidate employees and responsibilities from a host of other regulatory bodies, including the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and even the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is expected to have hundreds of employees and a budget of up to $500 million.

The bureau will nominally be part of the Fed, which is obligated to finance its budget, but the central bank may not influence its personnel or rules.

The bureau will have the authority to write and enforce new standards for mortgages, credit cards, payday loans and a wide array of other financial products. A consequence of the arrangement is that Ms. Warren will be working closely with Mr. Geithner, with whom she has occasionally clashed.

Ms. Warren was picked by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, as chairwoman of the Congressional panel that oversees the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Wall Street bailout effort enacted during the Bush administration.

Under her leadership, the panel has produced a series of reports, many of them critical of how the program has been carried out under Mr. Geithner, who was one of its architects.

Artilce:  Obama Picks Warren to Set Up Consumer Bureau, by Sewll Chanl http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/us/politics/18warren.html?_r=1&hp

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