Clarifying an Elizabethan Drama

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I have a story in the new issue of TIME about the feisty consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, due to open July 21, which many liberals hope Warren will be named to manage. It’s a fascinating–and sensitive–topic. Warren’s supporters feel passionately that President Obama should fight for Warren against the opposition of Republicans who are dead-set against confirming Warren (or anyone else, for that matter) until the CFPB’s funding and structure is changed in ways that Democrats say would gut the office. Those passions, and the larger related questions about post-2008 financial industry oversight, make for a great story, which I hope you’ll read in full.

But it seems there’s some potential confusion about what Warren said to me in my interview with her, conducted under the condition that we stick to the substance of consumer protection, given the fraught politics around the new position. Warren, who first dreamed up the idea of the consumer bureau and who has been more or less launching it in an advisory role, explained to me the rationale for the CFPB and why there’s no reason it should be controversial or menacing to the financial industry. At the conclusion of my story I write that Warren hopes that she will be the one to run the new bureau. Although I did not attribute that statement to her, in case of any confusion I want to make clear that Warren did not say this to me, on or off the record. Nor did she delve into political machinations at all during our chat. It’s pretty obvious from the whole of my reporting around Washington that Warren would like to have this job, at least so long as it doesn’t come at the cost of an effective and strong consumer bureau. (She has certainly not openly dissuaded any of the numerous Democrats and liberal activists noisily urging President Obama to appoint her.) But she did not say as much in our interview, although I can see how some people might make that inference. In the touchy political context of the moment it seems necessary to make that much clear.

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