The Obama administration is in cleanup mode, after the Huffington Post reported that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has actively sought to keep consumer watchdog Elizabeth Warren from being named to head a soon-to-be-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
On a conference call with reporters this afternoon, President Obama’s top political adviser David Axelrod sought to calm the waters. “Elizabeth is certainly a candidate to lead it,” he said.
That sentiment was echoed this morning by Michael Barr, Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions. “I don’t know where that came from,” he said on a conference call. “She’s been working closely with me and Secretary Geithner for a year and half to push for this consumer protection bureau. I believe and Secretary Geithner believes that she’s exceptionally well-qualified to run it.”Geithner and Warren haven’t exactly had a warm public relationship, so the news that he has reservations, and may be trying to block her, is no surprise. Just ask Sheila Bair. But this puts the White House in a tricky spot now if it turns out Obama does not nominate her.
Warren is the intellectual godmother of the new protection agency, and has a great deal of support from grassroots progressives. They’re trying to counter Geithner by petitioning the President to give her the job. “Elizabeth Warren has proven that she is willing to stand up to Wall Street on behalf of consumers and is the logical choice to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” reads a Progressive Change Campaign Committee petition. “Tim Geithner is a longtime Wall Street insider, and if he’s recommending against Elizabeth Warren that’s all the more reason to appoint her.”