GOP Could Regret Pushing Elizabeth Warren Into a Senate Run

If Warren is elected to the Senate, GOPers will regret harshly berating her as head of the consumer protection board.

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Senate Republicans must feel awfully confident about the re-election chances of GOP Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. Otherwise, it could be really, really awkward in the Senate dining room come 2013.

[Check out a roundup of GOP political cartoons.]

Well, perhaps not in the Senate dining room, since lawmakers don't even break bread together anymore—which could also be one of the reasons why Republicans in both chambers think it's OK to berate Elizabeth Warren, once the leading contender to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The bureau was Warren's idea and is part of a sweeping reform package passed in the wake of the Wall Street screw-ups that caused, or at least aggravated, the recession. Warren has been running the operation without the title, and now she won't get that, since Republicans vowed to stop her nomination if President Obama appointed her to the job.

Wall Street doesn't seem to like Warren, which, under the circumstances, should hardly be a barrier. Given the disaster Wall Street wrought—and the bailouts U.S. taxpayers subsidized to salvage the “too big to fail” companies—it seems that the financial services industry should have the decency to skulk along in their jobs, metaphorical tails between their legs. But they are bold enough to voice opposition to Warren, who presumably would be a little tough on them. [See political cartoons on the economy.]

Then there are the Republicans who don't like the consumer protection board at all, or at least don't like it in the form it has been created. The time to have that fight was when the bill was being written, and the GOP lost that fight. Holding up any nomination to force changes in a law already passed by officials elected to office by voters is nothing other than extortion and a brazen effort to rewrite history.

Obama has nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the bureau. Perhaps he will be confirmed; perhaps the GOP will hold up any nomination to thwart the enforcement of a law they don't like. Warren, meanwhile, is being encouraged by Democrats to run for Brown's U.S. Senate seat. While Brown has a strong war chest and decent approval ratings, any Democrat in deep-blue Massachusetts would present a strong challenge to the junior senator, particularly in a presidential election year. If Warren runs and wins, Senate Republicans should hope she has a short memory or a very forgiving nature. Dealing with Warren as a colleague is much more delicate than dealing with her as head of a consumer protection board.

  • Check out a roundup of GOP political cartoons.
  • See how the recession changed the job market.
  • See political cartoons on the economy.