Elizabeth Warren's consumer cred

How the Obama administration's new consumer protection adviser will help consumers.

Posted by Money Staff Thursday, September 16, 2010 1:53:26 PM

This post comes from Kimberly Palmer at partner site US News.


Soon after word got out that the White House appointed Elizabeth Warren to serve as special adviser and help set up the new consumer protection bureau, Twitter and Facebook erupted with shouts of excitement from personal finance and consumer experts: "Yahoo!" exclaimed Beth Kobliner, author of "Get a Financial Life." "Elizabeth Warren's appointment is a huge victory for consumers!"

Warren, a Harvard law professor who has headed the Congressional Oversight Panel, is celebrated as a force of good in the consumer world. Before taking on public roles, she was best known for her book, "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke," which explains why so many middle-class Americans feel so squeezed. She's also not afraid to stand up for "the little people." Last year, her congressional oversight panel criticized the Treasury Department for not doing more to help struggling families and called for greater transparency in the use of the bailout funds. Post continues after video.

It's not hard to understand, and embrace, the excitement over her appointment. Here are six reasons Warren's appointment is good for consumers:

She's a strong middle-class advocate. In an interview with U.S. News in February 2009, Warren emphasized the importance of supporting middle-class families: "The financial system can't be stabilized without stabilizing families. If families continue to choke on debt they cannot pay, the whole system will continue to falter. ... The outcome of this recession will either be a significantly strengthened middle class -- which has less debt and a stronger safety net, both on its own and through new government regulation -- or the middle class we once knew will disappear. (In that case,) America will move to a two-class economy -- a substantial upper class that's financially secure and then a very large underclass that lives paycheck to paycheck."

She's a celebrity. How many bureaucrats have rap videos written for them? The fact that the government's top consumer advocate is so well-known brings much-needed attention to consumer causes and concerns. If a no-name expert filled her position, the new bureau wouldn't get nearly so much attention.


She believes in the value of good government policies. Government policy, says Warren, is what will determine the future of America's middle class. Now, she's in a position to help shape those policies. In the 2009 interview, she said helping people keep their homes and jobs should be the government's priority: "Stopping the tide of foreclosures would help a great deal. Both because it would keep some families out of complete economic collapse, and it would let others stabilize the value of their biggest asset, their homes. It would also stop the continuing deterioration of some communities, and it would be good for jobs," she said.

She has widespread support in the consumer world. Here's how Carmen Wong Ulrich, television personality and author of the forthcoming "The Real Cost of Living" puts it: "(Warren) is our Wonder Woman. Her appointment means we -- American consumers, Main Street -- have a hero in Washington. She'll be our voice and champion and fill a gaping vacancy in terms of keeping our financial lives under a watchful eye, while many others have been either blind or sleeping."

Warren's smart and can put economic concepts in basic English. Here's how she explained what caused the current recession to U.S. News: "This recession started years ago with declining wages and rising core expenses. Families tried to adjust by working more jobs and longer hours, depleting their savings, and taking on debt. Now, the American family is crushed by debt, and job problems will make the problem worse. ... The financial system can't be stabilized without stabilizing families. If families continue to choke on debt they cannot pay, the whole system will continue to falter."

She's real. A recent Washington Post profile reports that Warren grew up in a "cash-strapped" family in Oklahoma, got married as a teenager, and became a mother shortly afterward. She slowly worked her way up in academia to her current spot as law professor at Harvard.

There are still a lot of unknowns: What will this new consumer financial bureau focus on? How will it interact with the consumers it serves? Will it successfully protect consumers from getting hurt by complex financial products?

But one thing's for sure: Warren can count on a lot of support from her fans.


More from US News and MSN Money:

Tags: bankingcrediteconomyforeclosuremortgage
9/17/2010 5:06 PM

The consumer wins on this appointment and dont have to wait for those in Congress to inact laws at the whim of the special interest groups. She will be on the job daily looking out for the interest of the people of USA as it appears from the actions of some in Congress they think they were sent there for other reasons.

9/17/2010 3:04 PM

I don't need another bureaucrat to represent me!!  I am in the middle class....well maybe lower lower middle class...since its been confirmed that the "Rich" start at $250,000 annually.  So maybe I am in the lower class.  I still don't need anyone to "protect me".  I can read.   I don't drink poison or suck on objects made in China.  I read the label.    I get along fine with those big scary banks...but I read.   I don't buy more than I can afford.   I don't spend more than I can afford.  What is this Czar of All going to protect us all from?   The thing that scares me is that we apparently have to be protected from ourselves....its got nothing to do with corporations or banks or firewalls or the nasty Mr.. boogey man....its the us in America that I am running scared of.   Us who just can't take responsibility for ourselves.   We need everyone else to protect....cause damnit...its not my fault!!   Somebody else always does it to me!!   WHINE WHINE WHINE.

9/17/2010 3:02 PM
Why are these government employees called CZARS.  Think of a better name President Obama.  If the President is trying to be funny, He is failing.  I think she is a good choice despite the title.
9/17/2010 2:32 PM
Star of a Michael Moore movie, enough said. Obama's treason charges just got a bit closer.
9/17/2010 2:22 PM
The very first thing that Obama has done that is a GREAT move.GO BABY GO!
9/17/2010 2:10 PM
The Little Prince has decreed her as a czar without any input from anyone else....he knows all and sees all and will soon be a czar himself as in U.S. Czar instead of President and all his socialist dreams will come true...and our nightmares......
9/17/2010 2:01 PM

"I will admit that I don't know a GREAT deal about Ms. Warren but I know enough to say that I am glad to have her in this position. "


IT is not the "her" that terrifies me ..  it is "this position" that terrifies me.  I don't recall the word Czar ANYwhere in the Constitution.. 


Could the gradual descent into socialism and this war on liberty be any more obvious?

9/17/2010 2:00 PM
"Joke2watch" says Warren is a Communist. Puh-leeze! There are no more Communists except for that nut-job in North Korea. From the tone of Joke2watch's comment, he cares not a whit about anyone but himself. I am a member of society. Citizens who have been victimized by powerful banks and other corporations are not social parasites. What would Joke2watch be saying if a family member was harmed by a toxic product? A "member of the middle class" seeking justice from a corporation with thousands of lawyers? Get real!
9/17/2010 1:45 PM

Another waste of taxpayers dollars!

9/17/2010 1:44 PM
I think she is a great choice.  She is a very intelligent woman and has no leanings toward the left or right.  When will people start looking at who is qualified for a position and not who put them there.  From the beginning she has looked out for the average, everyday american. I'm proud of her selection and hope some of you will give her a chance and take your politics elsewhere.
9/17/2010 1:40 PM

Mark my words.  They are going to attack HER not her ideas. 


Do not argue with an idiot.  They will just drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

9/17/2010 1:36 PM
Another "appointed" czar that shares Obama's socialist agenda.....
9/17/2010 1:34 PM

TWIMC - market self-regulation is an oxymoron.


I will admit that I don't know a GREAT deal about Ms. Warren but I know enough to say that I am glad to have her in this position.  If the good 'ol boys had listened to people like her, namely Brooksly Born we would be in a heck of a lot LESS mess than we are now.  People of the ILK of Lehman's DICK Fuld, Goldman's Lloyd Blankfein, plus Alan Greenspan,  Hank Paulson and the rest of those who know nothing about a days work for a days pay need to have someone to watch over them. 


Congratulations to Ms. Warren and the best to all that have been damaged by blatant greed and foolishness.


9/17/2010 1:23 PM
This "appointee" is another far left loon. She never would have passed congressional scrutiny. She will find even more ways to move the government further to the left. She really believes the government knows best.  She is a far left wing zealot and is a person to be watched very carefully.
9/17/2010 1:22 PM
Oh Christ, just what we need another Communist in Washington! I am a member of the middle class, not a social parasite or illegal alien.  I do not want a Communist advocating on my behalf, mainly because these commissars don't give a crap about the middle class.
9/17/2010 1:18 PM

Great… another person in this administration that comes from academia.  There's a saying that goes "those who can't do... teach".  College professor are ideologues that are no more than professional students.  How about getting someone that has managed a P & L, hired and fired people, managed people, made decisions about capital expenditures?  Someone who’s job depends on their performance and not tenure.

9/17/2010 1:13 PM

I have heard Dr Elizabeth Warren interviewed several times.  She is a strong advocate for the consumer and has a common sense approach.  Of course business would be afraid of her.  That is why she would be a good candidate to head up the consumer protection agency. 

I am really tired of people who automatically reject everything associated with Obama without really thinking about what it is they are opposing.  I am afraid that a lot of really good people will be voting against their own best interests in November.

9/17/2010 1:05 PM
If eliz warren was go great.  Seems like it would've been a good idea 18 mos ago.  Too little too late... running scared huh democrats.  Just what we need another czar that hasn't been vettted!  Means that ANYTHING GOES and it goes on and one until November!  See if this last ditch czar appt works for him!
9/17/2010 12:40 PM
Just what the government needs - another paid political flunky (czar) on the US payroll. How in the hell did we manage to survive all these years prior to 2008, without all this clunkers running the government? It's probably why things are getting worse from day to day in this country with these Obamanites!
9/17/2010 12:17 PM


Ya we need to bring back those NAZIs J.W. 'the moron in chief',Bush and his side kick Ugly Man (No bid) Cheney. Those Repugs did such a good job we almost achieved a Depression, now lets vote them all back in so they can finish the job and destroy America and the middle class at the same time.

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