Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts may have been passed over for Treasury Department in the Biden administration, but a network of her prominently placed protégés are poised to execute a quiet revolution in how the federal government approaches oversight of the financial industry.
According to Politico, a host of Warren alums and other close allies who share her approach of aggressively overseeing Wall Street and other financial institutions have been cast in key roles throughout government. The Warren charges represent a boon to progressive policy at the micro level and a way for the liberal firebrand to have measurable impact while remaining at her post in the Senate.
Already placed Warren allies/alums include:
- Bharat Ramamurti: Deputy director of the White House National Economic Council
- Julie Siegel: Treasury deputy chief of staff
- Julie Morgan: a senior adviser at the Education Department
- Sasha Baker: senior director of strategic planning at the National Security Council
- Leandra English, a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau alum (CFPB), is chief of staff for the National Economic Council
- Adewale “Wally” Adeyemo, who helped Warren launch the CFPB, has been nominated to be deputy Treasury secretary
- FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, another CFPB alum, has been nominated to lead the bureau
- Gary Gensler, who aggressively regulated big banks after the financial crisis, has been nominated for Securities and Exchange Commission chair—”a position that in the past Warren and her staff have invested significant effort trying to influence,” writes Politico.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is also a close ally and confidant of Warren, who helped mount a pressure campaign to get Yellen appointed as Federal Reserve chair under President Obama. Warren also reportedly has an open line of communication with Biden Chief of Staff Ron Klain.
According to Karolina Arias, a former Democratic Senate aide and partner at Federal Hall Policy Advisors, the appointments “confirm that Sen. Warren will be the most influential voice in the financial policy debate under the new administration.”
Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association, appeared to offer a more sour grapes perception of Warren’s handiwork. “No one should be surprised Sen. Warren has virtually hand-picked the financial and other regulatory nominations she cares deeply about,” said Hunt, who has gone toe-to-toe with Warren over financial industry regulation in some cases.
Warren, who has always advocated a “personnel is policy” approach, told Politico in December that “getting the right people in those slots is really important.”
“It’s not only the top slots, it’s also the deputies and assistants,” she said, “The people who do the hard work day in and day out to develop policies and then to execute them.”
Warren’s far-reaching network in the Biden world gives her key allies as she pushes the administration to take action on everything from student debt cancellation to increased government financing of child care and potentially raising taxes on the nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations. The prominent placement of those allies also represents a distinct change in bent from many of the people who occupied those posts within both the Clinton and Obama administrations.
“Warren has become the center of gravity for people who think the economy has gotten out of whack and that better governance could set things right,” said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the watchdog group the Revolving Door Project. Though Hauser said many of Biden’s top aides are more traditional Democrats, “it makes sense that when trying to staff an executive branch that can produce real results for people and a legacy for their boss, they looked to people associated with Warren.”