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Good news from the Dems on bailout oversight: Elizabeth Warren named to panel

Here's the announcement:

Elizabeth Warren is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard University, where her research areas include bankruptcy and commercial law and financially distressed companies. She serves on the FDIC’s Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion and previously served as Vice President of the American Law Institute and as an advisor to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission.

(The other guys are Richard Neiman, New York State’s Superintendent of Banks, and Damon Silvers, of the AFL-CIO.) Looks like Leader Nance did something right, for once. Here's an earlier post where we drew attention to Elizabeth Warren, quoting her as follows:

Every day, middle-class families carry higher risks that a job loss or a medical problem will push them over the edge. Although plenty of families make it, a growing number who worked just as hard and followed the rules just as carefully find themselves in a financial nightmare. The security of middle-class life has disappeared. The new reality is millions of families whose grip on the good life can be shaken loose in an instant.

During the same period, families have been asked to absorb much more risk in their retirement income. In 1985, there were 112,200 defined-benefit pension plans with employers and employer groups around the country; today their number has shrunk to 29,700 such plans, and those are melting away fast.

For younger families, the picture is not any better. Both the absolute cost of healthcare and the share of it borne by families have risen and newly fashionable health-savings plans are spreading from legislative halls to Wal-Mart workers, with much higher deductibles and a large new dose of investment risk for families future healthcare. Even demographics are working against the middle class family, as the odds of having a frail elderly parent and all the attendant need for physical and financial assistance have jumped eightfold in just one generation.

From the middle-class family perspective, much of this, understandably, looks far less like an opportunity to exercise more financial responsibility, and a good deal more like a frightening acceleration of the wholesale shift of financial risk onto their already overburdened shoulders.

(Here's Warren's complete article.)

And the Bush administration, by ladling out two trillion dollars, give or take, to Hank Paulson's golfing buddies, accelerated the acceleration still further. We're the ones paying. Why is that?

Listen to Warren's "Coming Collapse of the Middle Class," too. It's an hour long, so fuck All Things Considered, eh? Just listen:

NOTE Via Atrios, who notes it's about time. We can only hope that the classic Conservatives strategy of letting liberals take power only when the cupboard is completely bare has not been applied in this case.

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TreeHugger's picture
Submitted by TreeHugger on

did yeowoman work on testifying before Congress back when the revised Bankruptcy Bill was being debated (and ultimately passed, thanks Dems). She gave devastatingly detailed evidence on the degree to which medical bills were one of the leading causes for middle class and poor families declaring backruptcy. Her work also seemed to have influenced both Clinton's and Edwards' health care reform proposals.

Her appointment is definitely good news. Next, I'd like to see her and those of her caliber appointed to even more substantive positions in a democrat administration.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

this smells like a shunting off of responsibility and delaying tactic ("wait for the panel's report", etc) by Congress--they should be doing oversight themselves--they have actual power to stop or restrict or take back or punish, etc.

It's actually their job--not some outside group. They've held hearings over and over--and this is the result?

This is not good.

Submitted by ohio on

of us shrill crazy people---a foothold. Maybe a banner. Regardless of the metaphor, we, the shrillosphere, may get a precise goal and a plan of action with which to push those in power. Maybe she can even give us a snappy slogan.

Or we can come up with that. Regardless, a smart person appointed by but granted no power from the future administration isn't necessarily someone with no power. We can share ours---power, now with 62% more shrill.

(I'm trying to find the silver lining here, bro. Work with me as I'm so far at the end of my rope, I don't have enough to hang myself with. The lotus eaters are causing me great pain.)

And hell, I do like smart.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

is so very obviously a dodge and surrendering of power by Congress (as they've been doing for so long) that even the best person on earth can't have real impact on what's happening with our money.

All they can do is make reports and give recommendations (and it's also totally dependent on cooperation from the Treasury/Feds--which is not happening now with Congressmen, which is illegal in itself)

This whole thing actually is preventing and delaying real oversight--needlessly. It's Congress refusing to take action--even with evidence of obvious mismanagement and swindling and lying, etc.

Submitted by ohio on

Geez, have a little mercy.

This sucks shit through a straw: The sneakery and the theft and the fact that no one is checking the checkbook and no one is going to go to jail. And the attempt to cover it all by using smart people who have said and are saying this is going to be arduous and fraught with difficulties, but it's time for honesty, transparency, and paying the goddamn piper. It is a way to co-opt good folk. They are compromised before they have even begun.

Hooo, baby. I need a cocktail. Or maybe I'll read some Rubini. I like him. He's such a shit disturber.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

follow the same pattern--it's foolish to think this is different -- oversight is Congress' job so this is unnecessary to begin with--and the panel has been given no real power or mandate for access to materials/info to do oversight at all, or to take any action at all.

is there subpoena power? is there a direct Congressional order that the Fed/Treasury open their books/meetings/memos/etc to this panel? is there anything that forces all parties--both givers and takers--to divulge the necessary information the panel would need? ...

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

and gave the Treasury enormous power and freedom with a blank check -- them creating an "oversight panel" only now -- and not inserting it in the bailout itself -- should be all you need to know, really.

Submitted by lambert on

... was part of the bailout, IIRC. What's disgraceful is that they only filled it after so many billions were pissed away, we know not where.

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

i didn't know.

it's still useless without real power to do things.

i guess they intentionally designed it so?

Submitted by ohio on

I wrote a thing that had the words $0ciali$m and t0talitariani$m in it.

Whoopsie. Could you unstick me? Title was something like, "Fed and Treasury always secretive" or something like that.

You're a doll. And not just for this.

Submitted by lambert on

I just checked the queues, and nada. The filter wouldn't flag socialism or totalitaritarianism. Basically, (comments about) sex and (comments about) Jews.

Thanks for the kind words!

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi

sTiVo's picture
Submitted by sTiVo on

Also for the nudge to listen to the lecture. I thought I'd start it and soon leave, but found myself riveted. Well worth the listen, Bears game be damned.
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Just because YOU "wouldn't put it past 'em" doesn't prove THEY did it.

Submitted by lambert on

Da bears.... Are on Wall Street. And yes, that hour passes quickly, doesn't it?

"First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." -- Mahatma Gandhi