Elizabeth Warren Out at CFPB, What’s Next?

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Elizabeth Warren is leaving her role at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau less than a week after the agency officially opened for business, and will return to her teaching position at Harvard University, the U.S. Treasury Department announced late Tuesday.

Warren was appointed as a special advisor to the president and Treasury secretary in September and was tasked with getting the agency up and running. For months, there had been speculation as to whether she would be appointed the agency’s first director, but President Obama ultimately decided to tap former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to fill the role. Now, with the agency on its feet, Warren is moving on and being replaced by Raj Date, a former banker and one of Warren’s hires.

“Professor Warren has done an extraordinary job standing up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Her efforts to simplify mortgage and credit card disclosures, protect military families from abusive and deceptive financial practices, and bring aboard top talent like Richard Cordray and Raj Date have built a strong foundation for the Bureau’s future success,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

While Warren won over many politicians and consumers with her straight talk and charm, she remained a divisive figure, particularly among bankers and financial services companies who worried that she and the CFPB were trying to exercise too much power over their business practices. As a result, though she was the architect of the agency, Warren ultimately proved too controversial to be approved by Congress to head it.

Warren joined Harvard as the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law in 1995 and gained wide exposure during the recession, thanks to her frequent lectures and appearances on news shows standing up for middle-class Americans who seemed in danger of losing their livelihoods. Her ideas to build an agency that would act as a champion on behalf of consumers by forcing businesses to be more transparent and accountable appealed to President Obama and members of Congress, and the agency was eventually signed into law as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in July 2010.

Ever since the president passed over appointing Warren to head the new agency last week, many have speculated that she might run for Senate against Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in the 2012 election, but for the time being, it seems Warren’s plan is simply to return to her old teaching position. Whatever her next step may be, we hope she continues her work on behalf of the average consumer going forward on the many everyday issues that still need fixing.

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