*Elizabeth Warren’s Selective Silence*
**By Phil Hall**
***Last week, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren used an appearance before a meeting of Americans for Financial Reform and the Roosevelt Institute to complain about problems in the economy. Here’s what she said:
****“We should not accept a financial system that allows the biggest banks to emerge from a crisis in record-setting shape while working Americans continue to struggle,” said Senator Warren in her speech. “And we should not accept a regulatory system that is so besieged by lobbyists for the big banks that it takes years to deliver rules – and then the rules that are delivered are often watered-down and ineffective.”
****Whoa, that is a lot to digest. I never realized that Jamie Dimon and Brian Moynihan were responsible for keeping the middle class in a state of perpetual penury. Of course, Warren has become infamous for her bizarre statements on our capitalist society – most notably in her now-classic viral video rant where she insinuated that business owners earned their success at the expense of the taxpaying public.
****Warren is equally outrageous for rewriting recent history in a manner that suggests the private sector is solely responsible for all of the ills that plague our nation. Lest we forget, Warren claimed in a 2011 blog post on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) website that it was “the system [that] permitted some borrowers to take risks that not only hurt themselves, but also hurt their neighbors by driving the value of property higher and then pushing it off a cliff when those borrowers defaulted on their loans.”
****Obviously, in Warren’s mind, Americans prior to 2008 were too stupid to read contracts and consult with their lawyers and financial planners before taking out home loans. Irresponsible behavior by the borrowers themselves was not the cause at all – the “system” was entirely to blame. Well, at least she didn’t lift Flip Wilson’s material by claiming, “The devil made them do it!”
****But back to last week’s speech, where Warren sputtered about the financial services industry’s ability to make a profit.
****“Today, the four biggest banks are 30 percent larger than they were five years ago,” she said. “And the five largest banks now hold more than half of the total banking assets in the country. One study earlier this year showed that the Too-Big-to-Fail status is giving the 10 biggest US banks an annual taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion.”
****Well, that’s strange – the preservation of Too-Big-to-Fail was a keystone of the Dodd-Frank Act. I don’t recall Warren complaining about that aspect of the 2,300-page legislation while it was in the process of being written by a Democrat-controlled Congress.
****“So what I want to know is this: how much longer should Congress wait for regulators to fix this problem?” she continued. “Another three months? Another three years? Until the next big bank comes crashing down? Treasury Secretary Jack Lew recently said that if Too-Big-to-Fail is still a problem at the end of the year, it might be time to consider other options. I applaud Secretary Lew for laying out a timeline, and I’d like to see other administration officials and regulators follow suit.”
****Warren has often been vocal in applauding the Obama administration – without them, she’d just be another big-mouthed Harvard professor with a $350,000 annual salary. But, on the other hand, she has also been conspicuously silent in regard to some of the administration’s more obvious problems. To date, we have yet to hear Warren lose her cool on subjects that include the following:
****>> The failure of Eric Holder’s Justice Department to bring criminal charges against any of the Wall Street executives at the core of the 2008 crash;
****>> The failure of both the Justice and Treasury Departments to investigate why Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapsed in 2008 despite under-oath testimony by their executives that these entities were in excellent financial health;
****>> The failure of the administration to take the leadership role in charting a fast course that would have concluded the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac;
****>> The decision by the administration to award annual salaries to CFPB officers that are higher than the salaries earned by Vice President Joe Biden and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts; and
****>> The failure of the administration to question why more than half of the states receiving funds under the National Mortgage Settlement has blatantly diverted their money away from foreclosure relief programs and into projects that had nothing to do with housing.
****As for Warren’s complaint about a “regulatory system that is so besieged by lobbyists for the big banks that it takes years to deliver rules,” perhaps she would like to lead by example and start a campaign in which she can get her 99 fellow senators and the 435 characters across the hall in the House of Representatives to realign the congressional environment so that elected officials can do their work without being “besieged by lobbyists”? Or is it fine for Congress to be influenced by lobbyists, but not other parts of Washington?
****Warren’s vision for the future is even more unusual. “What we need is a system that puts an end to the boom and bust cycle,” she stated. “A system that recognizes we don’t grow this country from the financial sector; we grow this country from the middle class.”
****Perhaps if she had more time on the podium, Warren would have added a cry for “Workers of the world unite” or quotations from Mao Zedong’s “Little Red Book” to her speech. Actually, a famous quote by Mao sums up Warren’s shtick perfectly: All reactionaries are paper tigers.
Phil Hall has been (among other things) a United Nations-based radio journalist, the president of a public relations and marketing agency, a financial magazine editor, the author of six books and a horror movie actor. Also, as you will discover, he is not shy about stating his views.