Pressure mounts for 'Sheriff' Elizabeth Warren

By Jennifer Liberto, senior writer


WASHINGTON (CNNMoney.com) -- Pressure continues to mount on President Obama to select Elizabeth Warren as the nation's first consumer financial protection regulator.

Warren, 61, has become something of a cause célèbre as the administration's top pick to run the new agency charged with protecting consumers from abusive mortgage and credit card practices.

There's even a Hollywood-produced Elizabeth Warren rap video circulating online called "Got a New Sheriff," featuring a rapping cowboy singing the Harvard professor's praises.

Last week, 43 House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama, asking him to nominate Warren and requesting a meeting at the White House to discuss Warren's appointment.

"You have an opportunity to appoint to head this body a true visionary -- not the usual Washington careerist. You have an opportunity to appoint to this body the single best-qualified choice," said the letter, signed by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., among others.

Last week, Warren sat down with the head of a large and influential banking lobbying group, the Financial Services Roundtable. The group declined to comment on the meeting.

Warren, who has repeatedly declined interview requests on this topic, has also been meeting with various key administration players, including a meeting with senior White House advisers on Aug. 12th.

The public groundswell for Warren puts the White House in a tough spot. It's not clear when President Obama will make his decision, but an announcement is isn't expected this week.

"The administration is hesitating because they're faced with the traditional problem that Obama has faced," said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University.

If the White House passes Warren over, Zelizer says, they disappoint liberals whose support has been key throughout the administration. If Warren gets the nod, the White House must deal with "political difficulties on Capitol Hill where centrists have quite a lot of power and Republicans are becoming quite obstinate," Zelizer said.

Warren teaches contract and bankruptcy law as a Harvard University professor and she's also written a number of personal finance books. More publicly, she chairs a congressional oversight panel that has garnered attention for its critical reviews of government spending to bail out Wall Street banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Treasury is in the planning stages of creating the consumer financial protection bureau, which will be housed inside the Federal Reserve, thanks to the new law cracking down on Wall Street banks.

Warren is not the only candidate under consideration to run the bureau. But she is the most polarizing. Senate banking chief, Seen. Chris Dodd, D-Conan., has warned her nomination would cause a protracted and lengthy battle in the Senate, adding he isn't sure she could secure a Senate confirmation.

Banking groups and conservatives paint her as too liberal for a regulator job. They say an aggressive regulator would undermine bank safety by crafting rules that force banks to make risky loans. They've also accused her of lacking the chops to be a regulator.

Supporters say the consumer regulator job was written for her. Warren came up with the idea for the consumer financial protection agency and has spent her career championing consumers duped by "tricks and traps" of the financial industry, she often says.

Other candidates rumored to be in contention for the job are Michael Barr, Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Institutions, as well as Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gene Kimmelman. To top of page

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