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Warren Hearing Devolves Into Political Fray

With just a week to go before the contentious ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) opens its doors ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô and bank examination ledgers ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô House Republican lawmakers advanced a new round of attacks against ""Treasury Department"":http://www.treasury.gov/Pages/default.aspx adviser and consumer financial protection czar-hopeful Elizabeth Warren on Thursday, even as Democrats joined the fray to lob verbal criticisms against their colleagues. The heated exchange flared up before the witness even started her testimony.

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Following Warren's arrival, the formal and sometimes banal series of introductions required in hearings quickly escalated into a nearly 30-minute firefight for the ""House Oversight and Government Reform Committee"":http://oversight.house.gov/index.php.

Acting much like a harbinger, ""Rep. Mike Quigley"":http://quigley.house.gov/ (D-Illinois) started off by criticizing the hearing for delaying ""Professor Warren and others in [their] attempt to avoid another economic catastrophe caused in large part by unregulated greed.""

Committee chairman ""Rep. Darrel Issa"":http://issa.house.gov/ (R-California) sparred with two Democrats, first with ""Rep. Elijah Cummings"":http://cummings.house.gov/ (D-Maryland) over a matter of procedure, with the latter at one time bluntly asking the Republican, ""What part of the English don't you understand?"" A second spat involving the chairman and ""Rep. Stephen Lynch"":http://lynch.house.gov/ (D-Massachusetts) ended somewhat more tensely when Issa swore in Warren over the Democrat's repeated gestures for attention.

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According to ""CNN"":http://money.cnn.com/2011/07/14/news/economy/elizabeth_warren/?cnn=yes, ""Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle"":http://buerkle.house.gov/ (R-New York) raised a familiar refrain for the GOP by asking Warren whether the bureau would ""kill jobs.""

Seeming to sum her own feelings on the matter, the news service reported Warren making a simple reply: ""I don't think it'll cost people's jobs, I think it'll make them more secure.""

Attacks and outcry continue to filter in from across the political spectrum, as the ""CFPB"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ ramps up for a launch next week and prepares to assume enforcement responsibility for the transfer of 18 consumer financial protection laws, some 40 rules, and an unclear number of personnel from seven federal regulatory agencies.

Among the transfers: the Truth-in-Lending Act, Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Alternative Mortgage Transaction Parity Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act, and others.

The testy hearing, albeit less intense than one in May, seemed to confirm what many analysts across the spectrum speculated would happen. That included Richard Eskow, a senior fellow for the left-leaning ""Campaign for America's Future"":http://www.ourfuture.org/, who said that Warren would ""face another verbal assault, as Republicans on the Committee attempt to out-do each other in the pursuit of Wall Street contributions by proving their bona fides as attack dogs.""

Mark Calabria, director of financial regulation studies at the conservative-leaning ""Cato Institute"":http://www.cato.org/ and a one-time ""Senate Banking Committee"":http://banking.senate.gov/public/ staffer, offered his own thoughts recently: ""I think attempts by Republicans to bring the ""CFPB"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ into the appropriations process makes it more accountable. I don't think our attempt should be to insulate bureaucrats from the public.""

He adds: ""I think the agency and Dodd-Frank completely misunderstand the crisis, and if anything, the ""CFPB"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ will make the next financial crisis more likely than less.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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