Nightly News | September 17, 2010
WILLIAMS: Good evening.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: A funny thing happened to the president's plan to appoint a woman to run a new consumer agency to help Americans through this bad economy. She is such an enemy of the banks and Wall Street , it was feared they would put up such a fight against her that in the end she didn't end up getting that job. Today, instead, the president appointed her to a different job, to build, but not run, this new agency. The questions tonight: Did he back down from a fight or did he cut through the politics? And finally, what will she, former Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren , do for you and every other American? We'll hear from her in just a moment. First, our own Tom Costello in our Washington newsroom. Tom , good evening.
TOM COSTELLO reporting: Hi, Brian. The White House felt this contentious Senate confirmation process could drag on for months, and it wanted to start building this new agency now. So rather than nominate Miss Warren to be director, she was named a White House assistant. What she decides, though, could impact everything from credit card practices to Wall Street profits. In the Rose Garden today, Elizabeth Warren , the woman whose very idea was to create a new, all-powerful consumer protection agency, was given the job of building it from scratch.
President BARACK OBAMA: Elizabeth understands what I strongly believe, that a strong, growing economy begins with a strong and thriving middle class.
COSTELLO: The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will have broad authority to write and enforce standards for home mortgages and credit cards and be empowered to go after the kind of abusive and deceptive practices that helped fuel the subprime lending crisis and the explosion of debt. A hero to liberals...
Professor ELIZABETH WARREN (Special Assistant to the President): What's going to be different now, Mr. Secretary?
COSTELLO: ... Warren has also been critical of the government's handling of AIG , General Motors and the 2008 bank bailout.
Prof. WARREN: But Treasury followed a Don't Ask , Don't Tell policy. They didn't ask the banks what they were going to do with the money, and not having asked them, the banks are not required to tell.
COSTELLO: And she's made it clear she is no fan of the banking industry .
Prof. WARREN: You know, I want to turn to these guys sometimes and I want to say, 'What part of we bailed you out do you not get?'
COSTELLO: Now the banking industry fears one of its biggest adversaries will soon have tremendous influence over its business.
Mr. RICHARD HUNT (Consumer Bankers Association President): So she can dictate what the banks can and cannot deliver to their customers, at prices she determines as will.
COSTELLO: What no one knows is how effective the bureau will prove to be.
STEVE LIESMAN reporting: There's a danger, and the one that really concerns Wall Street is that the regulations will be so onerous that it will raise the cost of borrowing and make it more difficult for Americans to get a loan because interest rates are higher.
COSTELLO: But today the president insisted the protection bureau's time has come.
Pres. OBAMA: But from now on, consumers will also have a powerful watchdog, a tough, independent watchdog whose job it is to stand up for their financial interests, for their family's future.
COSTELLO: The president today said Miss Warren will not only help get the bureau up and running, but will also help identify who the first Senate -confirmed director should be. What's not clear is whether she herself might be a candidate for that job. Brian :
WILLIAMS: Tom Costello starting us off in Washington tonight. Tom , thanks.