Bloomberg News

Wall Street CEOs Strut Amid Suffering, Warren Says

September 05, 2012

Wall Street CEOs who wrecked the U.S. economy with risky bets “still strut around Congress” and demand favors from lawmakers, U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said in a blistering speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Warren, of Massachusetts, described a broken government that is stacked against the middle class.

“People feel like the system is rigged against them,” Warren, a frequent bank critic, said in Charlotte, North Carolina tonight. “And here’s the painful part: They’re right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in profits. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than secretaries.”

Warren, who helped President Barack Obama create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, drew repeated contrasts between the president and Republicans. Mitt Romney would help billionaires and big corporations and perpetuate the problems that allow companies to have too much influence, she said.

“Republicans say they don’t believe in government,” she said. “Sure they do. They believe in government to help themselves and their powerful friends.”

Lightning Rod

Warren, 63, is a one-time adviser to Obama who is running against Republican incumbent Scott Brown, and her critiques of business have made her a lightning rod for Republicans. The outcome of the race could help determine which party controls the Senate, where Democrats have a 53-47 majority and are defending seats in Republican-leaning states including North Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri.

Warren was the most prominent woman speaker on the second night of the Democrats’ convention. When Warren went to the podium, she was greeted by cheers of her last name.

“President Obama believes in a country where billionaires pay their taxes just like their secretaries do -- and I can’t believe I have to say this in 2012 -- a country where women get equal pay for equal work,” she said.

Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School, is a critic of Wall Street. In a state where Democrats far outnumber Republicans, she is her party’s hope to recapture the seat long held by Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009.

“Corporations are not people,” Warren said, speaking rhetorically and directly to Romney. “People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance.”

National Stature

Warren is the Democratic equivalent of Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey -- someone with the star power and national stature who represents the future of the party, said Michael Goldman. He has consulted on campaigns for Democrats since the 1960s, including for U.S. Representative Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, the late House speaker from Massachusetts.

Warren offers Democrats something Christie couldn’t for his party -- the ability to provide a personal and professional testimonial about their nominee based on her experience working with him in the trenches, Goldman said.

“Part of the whole idea of the convention is that the president wanted to make things work even with the Republicans blocking his path at every turn, and yet despite that there were successes,” Goldman said. “Her speech is about what Barack Obama asked her to do, what she did and the success that they had in helping Americans through the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”

Brown, 52, is trying to win re-election by focusing on a bipartisan record in Congress while characterizing Warren as an ideologue who will further polarize politics in Washington.

“Brown is a bridge builder, not a rock thrower,” Alleigh Marre, a spokeswoman, told Bloomberg in an Aug. 14 e-mail. “The last thing we need in Washington right now are partisan ideologues like Professor Warren who would rather leave blood and teeth on the floor than compromise.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Richard Rubin in Charlotte, North Carolina at rrubin12@bloomberg.net; Esme E. Deprez in New York at edeprez@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net


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