Elizabeth Warren has not expressed interest, at least publicly, in running for president any time soon. But if she did, how much would the Massachusetts senator hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of winning the White House?
That is the question that Noam Scheiber poses in the New Republic. The answer may turn on Warren and Clinton’s relationships and attitudes toward Wall Street, which couldn’t be more different.
Warren is no friend of the big banks. She criticized Wall Street’s excesses even before her appointment in 2008 as head of the Congressional Oversight Panel overseeing the TARP bailout program, when she managed to make enemies in both the Treasury Department and the financial sector. “I can’t think of anyone I’m afraid of,” she told me at the time.
She helped design the industry-maligned Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, although Republican opposition to her running it is, somewhat ironically, exactly what catapulted her into the seat she’s in now. During her Senate race against Scott Brown, hedge fund managers and other Wall Street folk poured money into the contest in an attempt to stop her, a strategy that ended up backfiring but did help make the race the most expensive Congressional campaign in the country.
Warren has continued her role as a vocal critic of financial industry practices in the Senate, including sending letters to the heads of the Office of the Controller of the Currency, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department, and the Federal Reserve asking why most government settlements with banks don’t include admissions of guilt—which many of them now do.
Clinton, meanwhile, is more of a centrist. She’s less likely to benefit from growing Democratic anger about income inequality, of the sort that just lifted Bill de Blasio into the New York City mayor’s office. Her opinions about financial reform remain something of a mystery. Much of Clinton’s economic intellectual capital and her fundraising skills are rooted in the banking industry. As Scheiber points out, this likely has those in the Clinton camp more than a little worried.