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Obama to name Warren as assistant

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BILL RADKE: It looks like the White House will pick Elizabeth Warren to oversee the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the one set up under the financial reform law. But apparently, Warren won’t go through the usual Senate confirmation process. Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer joins us live from Washington. Good morning, Nancy.

NANCY MARSHALL GENZER: Good morning, Bill.

RADKE: Why would the White House want to get around
the confirmation system?

MARSHALL GENZER: Well, Elizabeth Warren was head of the Congressional panel that investigated the Wall Street bailout — the so-called TARP program. In that capacity, she’s been a vocal critic of the financial sector and the federal government. She was also an outspoken consumer advocate. She actually came up with the idea for a consumer protection bureau. So, there was talk that she might just be too controversial to win confirmation on Capitol Hill, especially right before the November election.

RADKE: And how would the administration get around Congress?

MARSHALL GENZER: Well the White House will reportedly appoint Warren as an assistant to President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. She would oversee the creation of the consumer protection bureau in that capacity. But she wouldn’t have to go through the confirmation process. Now even some Democrats, Bill, who support Warren said they didn’t know if she could be confirmed. The head of the Senate Banking Committee, Chris Dodd, said there’s a “serious question” about that, because Republicans dislike her so much.

RADKE: What’s their problem with her?

MARSHALL GENZER: Well, many Republicans think Warren would take a very heavy-handed approach in protecting consumers with lots of new regulations. They worry that would hurt the profits of some U.S. companies. Now I talked about this with Jim Thurber, who teaches political science at American University.

JAMES THURBER: They’re worried that she’ll hurt the economy even further by being so aggressive against business. And so they’re concerned about her and probably wouldn’t support her and therefore she doesn’t have the votes in the Senate.

So, by appointing Warren this way, President Obama can avoid a nasty confirmation battle right before the election. And he can tell consumers he’s doing something to help them right away.

RADKE: Marketplace Nancy Marshall Genzer in Washington. Thank you.

MARSHALL GENZER: You’re welcome.

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