For politicians, a spot on the Senate banking committee is one of the sweetest political plums, a throne of power and money that often lifts its members above the desperate money-raising fray suffered by most other members of Congress. The reason is simple: being in charge of banking regulation usually means a lot more money and attention from … banks.
It's rare for freshman senators to land such a powerful spot. Usually, the corridors of the Senate meetings rooms and cafeteria are thick with wheeling-and-dealing by senators hoping to land a spot on banking or energy or another committee. These spots aren't usually given away; they require the party leadership's support.
So the news that Elizabeth Warren, the former Harvard Law professor, has apparently landed a spot on the Senate banking committee is an idea that must be regarded with sufficient awe. Rumors are being reported as a sure thing in a number of publications, from the Huffington Post to Politico to Bloomberg News.
Warren's sheer relentlessness has led her to join a committee on which she is able to do – in the best possible way – the most damage. And the banking industry, which struggled to lobby against her, has to take another very public hit to its influence under President Obama. They know Elizabeth Warren as an adversary, and they don't want to go through that again.
It's worth revisiting her trip to this vaunted position. Warren is a well-known investor advocate, slamming the banking industry for everything from foreclosures to proprietary trading, which occurs when banks trade for their own profit rather than those of clients. Warren founded the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was mandated by the Dodd-Frank financial reform act.
Having devoted all her effort to it, however, she was blocked by Congress from actually running it.
Warren decided to gain vengeance by grabbing a Senate seat to start campaigning against the dominance of big banks, all the while earning their increasing ire.
The Democratic leadership has taken a strong swipe against both their Republican nemeses and the banking industry by giving Warren a spot on the banking committee. For the rest of us, it's time to just sit back and watch the fireworks.
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