Fresh gossip for fans of liberal-wing-versus-moderate-wing Obama administration-ology: in former treasury secretary Tim Geithner’s book, he says it was his idea to have Elizabeth Warren set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on an interim basis before stepping aside, thus allowing Warren to have a major role in creating the Bureau despite the seeming impossibility of getting her confirmed through the Senate as its permanent director. The relevant excerpt, via Mother Jones:
[Chief of staff] Mark Patterson and I thought about options, and after a few discussions with Rahm, I proposed that we make Warren the acting director, with responsibility for building the new bureau, while we continued to look for alternative candidates. This would give her a chance to be the public face of consumer protection, which she was exceptionally good at, and the ability to recruit a team of people to the new bureau right away, which she wouldn’t have been allowed to do if she had been in confirmation limbo.
Warren is one of the more aggressively liberal policy advocates in Obama’s circle, while Geithner has always been seen as friendly to big banks, so the two are generally thought of as ideological nemeses. (They once got into a fight about seatbelts.) So it’s a little surprising to hear Geithner say he was behind the move to help Warren sneak around Republican opposition in the Senate.
Of course, since we’ll never know for sure if Warren really couldn’t have gotten through Senate confirmation, another way to look at it might be as a clever tactical move on Geithner’s part—conceding some ground to Warren while guaranteeing that her time as an administration player had a built-in expiration date.