There is a battle going on — a big one — and big battles have a lot of fronts. The big banks are doing whatever they can to fight back against consumers and homeowners who are desperately trying to curb the bankers’ abuses. The number of different fronts that have been opened up keeps growing. Here are just a few of the most important ones:
1. In D.C., the biggest battle is over the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Trying to build a new agency whose actual mission is to act on behalf of consumers in times like these is a treacherous undertaking, and Elizabeth Warren is battling on two major fronts of her own. The first is that the Republicans are trying to either strangle the agency at birth, or else rip its arms and legs off so that it lives but without much power to it. They are whining to high heaven that the budget for the agency is $379 million, which seems like it’s about the price of a Wall Street banker’s bonus check, but even worse for the poor Republicans is that they can’t touch that budget because of the way Warren brilliantly negotiated the language on it — it would be a set percentage of the Fed’s budget rather than being subject to the whims of Congress and the Wall Street lobby.
The other CFPB battle is over who the agency director will be. Word from the Senate is that Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby is pulling out all the stops to keep the White House from making Warren the permanent head, threatening all kinds of things if she is nominated or given a recess appointment.