Why Are Unions Pushing so Hard for Elizabeth Warren as Consumer Protection Czar?

These days, any time unions go all out to push anything, you can bet there’s a hidden agenda.  Take for example the newly enacted “financial reform legislation” that gives unions the ability (through their pension funds) to put union activists onto the boards of publicly-held companies.

Under the recently signed financial reform legislation, there is also a newly created Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and, lo and behold, it will be headed by another presidential appointee (read “czar”).

Yes, the President gets to hand pick another czar, which is what makes the fact that the SEIU and AFL-CIO are lobbying hard for a lefty named Elizabeth Warren so interesting.

The labor community is going to lend its considerable political clout to the effort to get Elizabeth Warren confirmed as the first head of the newly-created Consumer Protection Agency, going directly to the White House official who may stand in her way.

On Tuesday, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry will “raise the point that Elizabeth Warren would be an excellent head of the newly created Consumer Protection Agency” in private talks with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, according to a senior source with the union.

The AFL-CIO’s Richard “the Fifth” Trumka has also weighed in on Ms. Warren:

In our view, there is only one candidate who is uniquely qualified and equipped to head this new agency. Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren originated the idea of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and has proven as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel to be a strong and fearless advocate for the American public.

Apparently, though, Ms. Warren is getting some opposition from Treasury Secretary Geithner (as well as the bill’s co-sponsor Chris Dodd) even though the agency was her idea to begin with.

Warren’s union support may, however, stem from her support for the nationalization of banks as she did as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP).  As COP Chair, her panel, according to Forbes columnist Thomas F. Cooley, “seemed completely politicized” when it issued a controversial report:

The report essentially argues for nationalization on the grounds that, under government reorganization, bad assets can be removed, failed managers can be ousted or replaced and business segments can be spun off from the institutions. “Depositors and some bondholders are protected, and institutions can emerge from government control with the same corporate identity but healthier balance sheets,” the report argues, parroting a position that has been staked out by many prominent economic pundits.

Clearly, this is Elizabeth Warren’s particular crusade against the banks, since a majority of panel members dissented from the direction the report took and two refused to sign off on it at all.

This likely explains why such high profile people as the SEIU’s Mary Kay Henry and the AFL-CIO’s Trumka would be going so far out publicly to push for a particular czar.

If it’s for the nationalization of an industry (see auto and health care for reference), today’s union bosses are all in.

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