You are hereMother Jones: The GOP's Pathetic Attack on Elizabeth Warren
Mother Jones: The GOP's Pathetic Attack on Elizabeth Warren
March 30, 2011- Republicans in Congress love to attack Elizabeth Warren, the White House aide overseeing the start-up of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). At a March 16 hearing, House GOPers used Warren as a "punching bag," as one columnist put it, questioning her authority as the CFPB's for-the-time-being leader and predicting the bureau's imminent demise. None of those criticisms, however, compares to the pathetic accusation leveled by Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) in a letter (PDF) sent to Warren on Wednesday.
Bachus and Moore Capito accuse Warren of misleading Congress about the CFPB's role in the negotiations over a proposed settlement for the mortgage servicing industry. The settlement—which has been savaged by Republicans, the Wall Street Journal's editorial page, and other conservatives—will likely demand that servicers fix their dysfunctional operations so that homeowners aren't ripped off and improperly foreclosed on, an all-too-common occurrence. Warren told Congress that the CFPB offered advice on what the settlement should contain. But in their letter, Bachus and Moore Capito say Warren's agency "did more than provide advice: it recommended the goals and provided a detailed framework for the structure of the settlement." It's a clear insinuation: you lied to us.
Really? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of "advice" is a "recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct." That is, to give advice is to recommend. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner asked the bureau for advice about the proposed servicer settlement, and Warren and the CFPB did exactly that: they said what they thought the settlement should include. The "detailed framework" cited in Bachus and Moore Capito's letter was nothing more than a 10-page PowerPoint presentation written by the bureau, laying out its advice. Nothing nefarious there.
The Bachus and Moore Capito letter goes on to say that the CFPB was in fact the "primary architect" of the mortgage servicing settlement. It's a claim that is far from accurate. For starters, the mortgage servicing settlement is far from finished. How can Republicans accuse the CFPB of being the architect if the deal is still in the making? Perhaps Republicans are referring to the term sheet (PDF) released by Iowa attorney general Tom Miller, a Democrat, earlier this month, a rough guide to how the settlement might look. That draft was 27 pages long. And while it included ideas offered by the CFPB, it featured plenty that was not in the CFPB's recommendations. To call the bureau the "primary architect" simply isn't correct.
Even if the AGs' draft and the CFPB's recommendations aligned in several areas, that doesn't mean Warren is secretly crafting the deal, as many on the right want to believe. It means the AGs took her advice.