Warren: Ryan Budgets Are ‘Truly Breathtaking’ — in a Bad Way
Sen. Elizabeth Warren isn’t buying into the Paul Ryan hype. During a POLITICO Morning Money breakfast, Warren slammed Ryan’s budget proposals, calling them “truly breathtaking.”
“We seem to have a breakdown in just a kind of agreement about what government is supposed to be about,” Warren told POLITICO’s Ben White at the event in Washington.
“We’re talking about someone who wants to privatize large parts of Social Security, someone who wants to make big cuts in the investments we make in education, in infrastructure, in the pieces that help us build a future together.”
But Warren, whose fiery anti-bank rhetoric has earned her a national following on the left, declined to weigh in on politics in her own party. She repeatedly sidestepped questions about Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s plans to reform Wall Street, which are less extensive than her own.
Warren supports reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated investment banks from commercial banks. Clinton does not.
“I never hear the case why it is that some investment bank that wants to take risks on Wall Street and wants those kinds of profits should have access to your grandmother’s checking account,” she said.
Warren, joined onstage by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, pushed back on Republican-led efforts to change the bureau’s structure so that it is led by a commission instead of a single director. And she used the opportunity to take aim at one of her favorite targets: the SEC, which has been slow to issue some Wall Street rules because of disputes between Democratic and Republican members.
“If we want to talk about a place that’s not functioning very well, the SEC has shown us there is a real problem with that five-person commission,” she said. “They are caught in political battles. They’re caught in blaming each other. And they’re not doing the work that the law requires them to do.”
Warren also defended her role in the resignation of Brookings Institution scholar Robert Litan, who stepped down last month after she questioned the funding he received from the investment industry for research critical of the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary rule, which the industry opposes. The think tank said Litan violated its recently changed rules on disclosure when he cited the research during congressional testimony.
“The idea of purchasing research and washing it through putatively independent think tanks, I think, is a problem,” Warren said. “And it’s a problem that will infect the entire discussion in Washington.”
Still, Warren made it clear that she is sometimes willing to compromise. She railed on a provision in Tuesday’s budget deal that would make it easier for loan servicers to robocall borrowers’ cell phones — but conceded that the provision is too small to warrant picking a fight over the much larger budget agreement.
“Overall, we’ve got a bill where, for the first time, it looks like we’re going to take off the table having the Republicans shut down the government over raising the debt ceiling, and that’s a very important thing,” she said.
Photo credit: Salon.