The Senate Banking committee held a confirmation hearing for two agencies — the SEC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — this morning, and as you may have guessed, the standout cross-examination was from Elizabeth Warren.
Warren had a ton of praise for Richard Cordray, who has headed the CFPB without being confirmed for over a year.
Those who oppose his confirmation, it's worth noting, say it's because the CFPC is an imperfect organization and not because of his personal record.
Warren, of course, thinks that's bunk.
"From the way I see how other agencies are treated, I see nothing here but a filibuster threat against Cordray," said Warren. "The delay in getting him confirmed is bad for small banks, small credit unions...bad for anyone with an honest product... I hope you get confirmed, you have earned it Dr. Cordray."
SEC nominee Mary Jo White, or more specifically, the SEC, did not get such gentle treatment from Warren. She went right for the jugular, comparing the SEC's progress (or lack thereof) on rule writing with the CFPB's.
She pointed out that the SEC has missed about half of its rule writing deadlines so far.
"The SEC has not yet written rules for... credit rating agencies that took money to sign off on risky deals that crashed the economy and still operate with big conflicts of interest... still no rules from the SEC to deal with derivatives that were at the heart of the finical crisis... still no rules to protect the towns and... still no rules to disclose CEO pay... I hope those are the top of your list," Warren said to White.
In the midst of pointing out all these old mistakes, Warren did manage to tell White something new she'd like to see at the SEC.
"What are the costs of people being cheated," Warren asked. "How do you make sure that the costs of under enforcing regulation are measured?"
It's an interesting question because what Warren is asking White to do is take into account what an entities actions are costing (and could continue to cost) the American people before charging them with wrongdoing.
For the most part White agreed, saying the SEC should pursue quantitative analysis wherever possible.
Numbers do tend to put things in perspective.
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