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Consumer agency may not be led by professor

WASHINGTON — The White House has ruled out naming controversial Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren to lead the agency that she has spent the past year setting up, the Washington Post reported Saturday.

President Barack Obama is slated to nominate someone to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau early this week as it prepares to officially open for business Thursday. The administration has considered several candidates since the agency was created last year and recently looked at one of Warren's top deputies, Raj Date, as a possibility, the Post reported, citing an unnamed source. A spokeswoman for the agency declined to comment.

The decision to pass over Warren is a blow for liberals who have championed her for the job. A spokesman for Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who sponsored the financial reform legislation authorizing the bureau and is among Warren's staunchest supporters, said he would be "ticked" by the move. In June, 89 House members sent a letter to Obama urging him to appoint Warren.

But Warren's strong rhetoric on the "tricks and traps" by financial firms has made her a polarizing figure. Republicans have also raised broader concerns about the structure of the agency. Instead of a single director to lead the bureau, they have called for a five-member commission.

That will make it difficult for the White House to put anyone in the job. The administration's nominee must be confirmed by the Senate, and the GOP has vowed to block any candidate — Warren or otherwise.

Even if she does not lead the new bureau, Warren's mark will still be felt. She handpicked its senior staff, campaigned to sell the agency to industry groups and bore the brunt of criticism against it. Last week, she defended the agency through a testy House committee hearing that lasted four hours.

"We have all seen the consequences of a regulatory system in which no single regulator has the authority and the comprehensive tools necessary to ensure that the consumer financial markets work for American families," Warren wrote in prepared testimony. "As a country, we are all paying the price for a consumer credit system that was broken."

Consumer agency may not be led by professor 07/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 16, 2011 11:55pm]
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