I caught most of the president’s press conference today, and what I saw was outstanding. Maybe even better than outstanding. But I got distracted by little Finny and missed the answer to the following question. I wanted to know how he answered, so I tracked down the transcript in my email.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. (Inaudible) — I’ll ask my real question. It’s now been more than two months since the financial reg reform bill has passed. A centerpiece of that was what you talked about as a consumer financial protection bureau. And yet you haven’t named a head. Is Elizabeth Warren still a leading candidate? And if not, are you worried about some sort of Senate hurdle for her confirmation? Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: This is a great opportunity to talk to the American people about what I do think is going to be hugely helpful to middle-class families in the years and decades to come, and that is an agency that has been set up, an independent agency, whose sole job is to protect families in their financial transactions. So if you are getting a credit card, we are going to have an agency that makes sure that that credit card company can’t jack up your rates without any reason — including on old balances. And that could save American consumers tens of billions of dollars just in the first couple of years.
If you are out there looking for a mortgage — and we all know that part of the problem with the financial crisis was that folks were peddling mortgages that were unstable, that had these huge balloon payments that people didn’t fully understand well. Now there’s going to be some oversight in terms of how mortgages are shaped, and people are going to actually have to know what they’re getting and what they’re buying into. That’s going to protect the economy, as well as individual consumers.
So this agency I think has the capacity to really provide middle-class families the kind of protection that’s been lacking for too long.
Now, the idea for this agency was Elizabeth Warren’s. She’s a dear friend of mine. She’s somebody I’ve known since I was in law school. And I have been in conversations with her. She is a tremendous advocate for this idea. It’s only been a couple of months, and this is a big task standing up this entire agency, so I’ll have an announcement soon about how we’re going to move forward. And I think what’s fair to say is, is that I have had conversations with Elizabeth over the course of these — over these last couple of months. But I’m not going to make an official announcement until it’s ready.
Q Are you unofficially concerned about a Senate confirmation?
THE PRESIDENT: I’m concerned about all Senate confirmations these days. I mean, if I nominate somebody for dog catcher —
Q But with respect to Elizabeth Warren, are you —
THE PRESIDENT: Hans, I wasn’t trying to be funny. I am concerned about all Senate nominations these days. I’ve got people who have been waiting for six months to get confirmed who nobody has an official objection to and who were voted out of committee unanimously, and I can’t get a vote on them.
We’ve got judges who are pending. We’ve got people who are waiting to help us on critical issues like homeland security. And it’s very hard when you’ve got a determined minority in the Senate that insists on a 60-vote filibuster on every single person that we’re trying to confirm, even if after we break the filibuster, it turns out that they get 90 votes. They’re just playing games. And as I think Senator Voinovich said very well, it’s time to stop playing games.
All right. Chuck Todd.
What can I say? He nailed this answer just like he nailed the question about the so-called Ground Zero Burlington Coat Factory. It sounds to me like the president has every intention of nominating Elizabeth Warren. And he’s ready to fight against this 60-vote nonsense. I wish Obama had been this forceful and tough all year long. But I’m sure glad to see him relaxed and ready to go for the fall campaign.