I just got off a blogger call with Elizabeth Warren (if you have any doubt that her appointment is seen as by the White House as a concession to the left, note that bloggers are the first people who get to interview her after her appointment was announced) and I got the chance to ask her whether credit reports came under oversight of her Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- especially when they're used to deny people jobs or to set rates for insurance.
She said yes, it did come under this act -- "credit reporting is an important part of credit", and she said she shared my concerns. She apologized for not being more specific, but said she would be looking into it.
In response to other questions, she said she was looking forward to working on the inside, and would also be a part of the president's economic team with input on larger economic issues.
I think that's the single biggest gain with this appointment: That working people will have a strong, informed ally in the White House. Someone who really does understand our economic pain, and isn't going to be deterred from talking about it.
While I don't doubt she'll have her enemies working against her, she sounds confident and ready to fight on behalf of us all. (And, as she pointed out, a year ago Barney Frank told her the idea for this agency was a "pipe dream" that would never happen.)
"This is about rebuilding America's families, because that's what will give us a stronger economy," she said.
I'm feeling a lot more optimistic than I have in a while.
I was on the call too. Beyond the thrill of knowing Elizabeth Warren is working on behalf of all of us who have been screwed by a bank or credit card company in our lives, the most compelling part of the call to me was to hear how closely she plans to be working with the White House economic team on the bigger picture. In her words, "I expect to be meeting with the President and his economic team often." She expanded on that answer to say that those discussions would cover a broader scope than the CFPB too, which I interpreted to mean as policy and focus on concerns of the middle class.
Since rumors spilled out about her pending appointment, there have been waves of grumbles that she was somehow being sent to the corner to languish, which sparked several questions about the scope of her authority. Rest assured, this appointment is no symbolic gesture to flip off progressives or appear to be responsive. It's the real deal. Warren again, in her own words:
"I have authority to hire, fire, set direction, budget and priorities."
Later in the conversation she expanded on that by saying that her role is not to write regulations, but to ACT and act NOW.
Like Susie, I'm feeling quite optimistic about what we will see under her direction. She's an invaluable asset to the White House team and I do truly believe that she will have the interests of the middle class and poor at heart in how she tackles this job, which is huge by any measure.