Coming in July 2011, or sooner: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, starring Elizabeth Warren. The wonks at the U.S. Treasury Department are readying a transfer of consumer-protection authority over to the new agency, The Wall Street Journal reports. The White House today named Warren as the official-unofficial, semi-interim head of the agency.
Warren’s strange, wordy title — Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — reflects the Obama administration’s desire to put her at the head of the organization’s founding while avoiding the Senate confirmation process needed to officially put her in the director’s seat.
As of now, Warren’s power will be limited to staffing up the bureau, creating an organizational structure and prioritizing new regulations. In her current role, she won’t be allowed to create new regulations. She would have to be selected as the director and then be confirmed by the Senate to make actual specific policy choices.
Wall Street pundits remain confused about Warren’s actual role going forward. Some believe she’s being groomed for the top spot, while others think she’ll be given the boot once the agency is up and running. Felix Salmon offers a reasonable assessment: Her role as architect of the bureau will quell lawmakers’ concerns and grease the skids for her eventual nomination.