WASHINGTON -- The woman leading the setup of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said she hopes to work closely with credit unions and if "this thing works out right, consumers and credit unions will be on the same side of the line."
Elizabeth Warren, who President Obama named as a top adviser to him and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, told NAFCU's Congressional Caucus that the administration's goal is to ensure functioning credit markets for consumers. She also said the country can't work well "without a robust and diverse banking system," and the end result won't be a single model for financial services providers.
The former Harvard Law School professor said stronger regulations are needed because the current system isn't working as it should.
Warren praised the efforts of credit unions and noted how one helped a member of her family get back on their feet after some financial problems.
This was her first public appearance before a financial services trade association since she took office. She took no questions from the audience or the media. She also met with NAFCU's board and met with top officials of CUNA earlier in the week.
She was the last speaker at the conference, during which several Republican lawmakers criticized Obama's selection of her.
Warren has a "clear record of being an ideologue," said Senate Banking Committee member David Vitter (R-La.). He criticized her for favoring a "nanny-style government" that is prone to excessive intervention.
Rep. Spencer Bachus, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, said Republicans think the bureau will overreach and interfere with the market. "It's tough emotionally or personally to be opposed to consumer protection, we're not. We're not, we're opposed to the charge of this new bureau," said Bachus (R-Ala.). Even Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), a senior member of the committee, declined to say if Warren should be appointed to head the bureau. "Fortunately, that's a presidential appointment, not mine," he said.