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The plaque on Elizabeth Warren's Senate office door.
It's official.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is picking up as senator where she left off as advocate for financial reform, writing an op-ed in Politico to warn policymakers in Washington who are looking to Wall Street to find key staff on financial issues of the pitfalls to avoid. Her point? Wall Street has the power to infect policy that affects the entire economy and needs to be balanced.
But as past experiences have shown, there is also real peril in this Wall Street shuffle. Big business orthodoxy against rules and regulations can seep into the bones, including the bones of new policymakers who are charged with protecting consumers and strengthening markets. Industry groupthink and overconfidence can prevent clear and evenhanded analysis of problems. The result can be a group of decision makers who are self-confident in the extreme and who end up clearing the path toward the sort of recklessness and excessive greed that have already broken the economy once.
She suggests some pretty darned common sense things to look out for in these industry insiders looking to make policy: 1) make sure they're talking to and listening to the vast array of industry experts who aren't coming from the too-big-to-fail side of the industry; 2) can they break with the industry orthodoxy and see where the industry has "gotten it wrong over the past generation"; 3) do they get that the lobbying playing field is heavily skewed away from the public interest advocates and toward industry and that their job will include trying to do something about that; 4) precisely why are they looking to make the switch to policy-making, do "they want to see real reforms and changes" or advance their careers; and 5) do they know a bad actor when they see one. "If a potential appointee isn’t willing to differentiate the virtuous from the villains—and treat them differently—then they will make mistakes by over-regulating those who don’t need it and by not cracking down on the real scofflaws."

How great is it that Warren has a position on Senate Banking, and gets to use this rubric to assess executive nominees, and to educate her colleagues on the committee. There's a pretty good chance that very few of them ever even considered these questions. No wonder Wall Street fought so hard to keep her out of the Senate.

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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Jan 25, 2013 at 10:16 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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