Elizabeth Warren: A Progressive 2016 Candidate?
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has seen a great deal of media attention over the course of the last few months on a number of major fronts. In particular, she’s been vocal on the failures of the New York Fed and an unhealthy relationship between regulators and banks. She’s also been working to support fellow Democratic candidates facing a tough election this fall, and of course there’s the pressure many are placing on Warren to run for president in 2016. Let’s take a look at what’s new with the Massachusetts’s progressive Senator.
The Failure of Regulators
In an interview with NPR, Warren discussed the recent release of recordings made by a former Fed Bank Examiner, Carmen Segarra, and her concern for what they reveal about the relationship between regulators and big banks like Goldman Sachs. The tapes, recorded in secret by Carmen who has since been let go, are a window into conversation between regulators and banking parties as well as conversations between regulators strategizing their methods. In one sample conversation, regulators discussed a “legal but shady transactions” with concern, but later barely touched on the matter with Sachs representatives. Regulators stressed the need to be non-confrontational with banks so as to retain an important relationship and their access to information.
“Look at how the Fed emphasized talk instead of action,” said Warren to NPR. “The regulators seemed to think that it was a victory just to raise an issue, even if they took absolutely no action to address the issue. And that’s the kind of approach that allowed banks to take on massive risks before the financial crisis.”
Warren aggressively addressed the issue, one that’s been of concern for years in the wake of the bailout. “We can keep making the rules tougher and tougher, but it won’t make an ounce of difference if the regulators won’t enforce the rules that are there,” she said. “If the regulators back down or back off whenever the banks tell them to, then it’s the banks — and not the regulators — who are running the show.”
In a recent visit to the University of Oregon, Warren spoke in favor of her fellow Democratic lawmaker, Senator Jeff Merkley (Ore.) who is running for re-election. She specifically discussed his early support of her Consumer Financial Protection Agency, saying that, “That’s when you know you got a partner you’re willing to fight alongside. This is the partner I wanted to show up today to say, we got to get him back in the United States Senate,” according to Jefferson Public Radio.
Merkley’s not the only election front she’s been vocally in support of Democrats. She spoke on The Rachel Maddow Show earlier this week to advocate for her party in the race. She underscored the Democratic stance on equal pay, the minimum wage increase, and women’s right to contraceptive privacy, ending on the importance of voters involvement. “We get out there and make our case. That’s what our candidates did, people hear it, they go to the polls, that’s what democracy is all about,” said Warren.
Warren for President? Probably Not
One of the reasons Warren has been getting so much attention has to do with elections a little further away than the Senate race this fall. While most of the 2016 presidential buzz has gone to Hillary Clinton, there’s been a competitive voice in favor of Warren as a the Democratic candidate. At a speech in August, supporters carried signs and yelled “Run, Liz, Run!” according to The Daily Beast, and they aren’t the only ones pushing her to consider the presidency.
Just as Clinton has supporters joining together with the “Ready for Hillary” effort, Warren’s supporters have put together a “Ready for Elizabeth” group in preparation for 2016. In some ways, Warren is the better candidate. She’s still in office, which has its pros and cons, but her time there lacks the same scandals Clinton will have to face down if she runs. Plus, if elected, she’d be the first female president and wouldn’t draw the same critical commentary Mrs. Clinton would see as a result of her marriage with former President Bill Clinton.
However, not all are as eager for Warren to run for office, especially since it would likely take a segment of otherwise pr0-Clinton supporters. “If Elizabeth called me up and said, ‘I am thinking of running for president,’ I would say, ‘Elizabeth, are you out of your goddamn mind?’” said a New York-based donor to The Daily Beast, adding that, “I really like Elizabeth, but if Hillary is in the race it just makes no sense.”
Luckily — for some donors, anyhow — Warren has said repeatedly that she has no plans to run. “I am not running or president. Do you want to put an exclamation point at the end of that?” she said, according to The Boston Globe. Exclamation point or not, her point blank statements have not stopped her followers from eagerly hoping she’ll change her mind. Even if she doesn’t, though, she’s likely to remain an influential face in Congress and her efforts on behalf of the party may help push Democrats in the right direction during the neck and neck races.
Follow Anthea Mitchell on Twitter @AntheaWSCS