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  Print view: Obama's New Consumer Watchdog
ECONOMIC PORTENTS:

Obama's New Consumer Watchdog

Her role is more "show" than "dough," to provide a veneer of credibility with little enforcement muscle.

by Stephen Lendman
Monday, 20 September 2010

Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren at swearing in ceremony
Reuters
"Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws," or what laws they make. Consumer watchdogs are no antidote against that kind of power.

On September 17, New York Times writers Jackie Calmes and Sewell Chan headlined, "Obama Picks Warren to Set Up Consumer Bureau," saying:

Obama appointed "to oversee" the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) "until a director is named later. The appointment (will let her) get the agency up and running without having to go through a contentious (Senate) confirmation battle," one she might lose because of Republican and industry opposition.

She'll be an assistant to the president, a "czar" for some, a designation held by numerous other White House advisors. She'll also be a Treasury Secretary advisor, reporting jointly to Obama and Tim Geithner.

Who Is Elizabeth Warren?

A bio on the elizabethwarren.com web site includes the following:

At age 16, she was an Oklahoma state champion debater.

Her education includes a BS from the University of Houston (1970) and a JD from Rutgers Law School (1976) where she was Editor to the Rutgers Law Review.

She taught law at Rutgers, the University of Michigan, the University of Houston Law Center, the University of Texas School of Law, and University of Pennsylvania's School of Law before joining Harvard Law School in 1992, where she's now Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law.

She's also a member of the FDIC's Committee on Economic Inclusion, the Executive Council of the National Bankruptcy Conference, as well as former Vice-President of the American Law Institute, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Chief Adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission.

In addition, until her new appointment, she headed the Congressional Oversight Panel administering the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) for banks, but couldn't constrain their multi-trillion dollar bailout, interest-free money, and virtual regulatory freedom.

Her writings include over 100 scholarly articles, six academic books, and several best-selling ones. Co-authored with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, her most recent one is "All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan." An earlier 2003 one with her daughter is titled, "The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke," written years before the current economic crisis. It's devastating many more of them, their numbers steadily increasing because of financial predators Warren will have little power restraining. That's the problem.

Obama's so-called financial reform gives Wall Street a free pass. Described as the most sweeping package since the 1930s, it's, in fact, virtually toothless, an earlier article calling it "a stealth scheme for global monetary control." A follow-up story explained more.

It's business, not consumer-friendly, and why not when powerful insiders wrote it.

In June 2009, The New York Times explained how, saying:

"In the last two weeks alone, the administration has heard from top executives from Goldman Sachs, MetLife, Allstate, JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, Citigroup, Barclays, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, Travelers, Prudential and Wells Fargo, among others. Administration officials also discussed the president's plan with the top lobbyists at major financial trade associations in Washington."

Among other provisions, the bill gives the Wall Street owned Federal Reserve greater power. It lets big banks be self-regulating, facilitates greater consolidation, crowds out smaller firms, and establishes a Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP), unable to rein in financial excesses, including abusive mortgage lending that fueled the housing crisis.

Yet New York Times writers Calmes and Chan were effusive, saying:

"Basically, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be a watchdog for the American consumer, charged with enforcing the toughest financial protections in history."

False. It's pretense, a veneer of change, not the real thing, a line from Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore explaining it, saying:

"Things are seldom as they seem. Skim milk masquerades as cream," especially for corporate interests, Wall Street heading its queue, making the key rules, getting its way, including what passes for financial reform. It's cover for business as usual.

While the BCFP will supposedly oversea banking practices regarding credit cards, mortgages, payday loans, student loans, and other consumer financial products, exempted are financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets as well as auto financing. Further, BCFP power to review large firms will be impeded by their ability to circumvent rules to do pretty much as they please. They wrote the new rules to assure it. Otherwise, "financial reform" wouldn't have passed.

Yet Obama called Warren "one of the country's fiercest advocates for the middle class," and the BCFP a new "watchdog." In name only, in fact, because Wall Street owns Washington, permeates government, and runs it like a subsidiary, its people in charge of what counts most - the nation's money handled by the US Treasury and Federal Reserve that, of course, has nothing to do with government. It's a private institution owned and controlled by bankers, big ones, chairman Bernanke serving them, not popular interests, a status no consumer "watchdog" will change or even challenge.

In fact, the BCFP will come under the Fed after July 21, 2011, though the new law prohibits any interference. However, the Treasury's new Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) has veto power over BCFP policies. It's also a step toward world money and banking control, perhaps with one currency under a global central bank, banking giants, the IMF, and other international lending agencies. Against them, the most dedicated consumer watchdog will be impotent.

Warren, of course, is a temporary appointee, a director to be chosen by mid-2011. She also won't serve on the FSOC that has real power under Geithner. Her role is more "show" than "dough," to provide a veneer of credibility with little enforcement muscle.

Further, though critical of banker bailouts, she fully supports Obama's policies. Why else would she be appointed, not to criticize that would get her removed and replaced. Consumer advocacy praise for her is premature, given how little authority she'll have, and her reluctance to bite the hand that selected her.

Stay tuned. Wall Street's power is undiminished, its hand firmly in control, its agents running the Fed and Treasury, in charge of the nation's money.

Remember what Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744 - 1812, founder of the family's banking dynasty) once said:

"Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes the laws," or what laws they make. Consumer watchdogs are no antidote against that kind of power, not when Congress, the administration and courts stand firmly in support, spurning populist interests, Democrats no different from Republicans.


Stephen Lendman

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His blog is sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to Lendman's cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on September 20, 2010.
 

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