- Harvard Law School
- Senator Elizabeth Warren
- President Barack Obama
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Hillary Clinton
- TARP Congressional Oversight Panel
- National Bankruptcy Review Commission
- The Game Is Still Rigged
- Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- Wells Fargo
- CEO John Stumpf
- Wall Street bankers
- Senate Banking Committee
A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren (Picador, 2015, New York, NY, 377 pages).
Book Review by Dennis Moore
July 19, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - Elizabeth Warren, the senior senator from Massachusetts, a former Harvard Law School professor and an expert on economic issues, as well as the author of nine books, including All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan and The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke, has written an insightful book that should resonate with us all; A Fighting Chance.
Warren is widely credited with developing the idea for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and she helped set up the new agency as an assistant to President Obama, which is reflected in her writing and thinking throughout this book. As chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel and as the senior advisor to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission, this background makes it clear why many thought that Warren would be a strong challenger to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the campaign for President of the United States.
As a child in Oklahoma, Warren yearned to go to college and become a teacher – an ambitious goal, given her family’s modest means. Yet, by 1995, she was a distinguished law professor with a deep understanding of why people go bankrupt. And then came the call that changed her life. Would she come to Washington, D.C., to help advise Congress on rewriting the bankruptcy laws? This New York Times Bestseller, answers that question.
Thus began an impolite education in the bare-knuckled ways of Washington. She fought for better bankruptcy laws and lost. She tried to hold the federal government accountable during the financial crisis but became a target of the big banks. She hatched an idea for a new agency designed to protect consumers and was denied the opportunity to run it. Warren gives the how and why in this thorough accounting of her life, A Fighting Chance. In this passionate, funny, rabble-rousing book, Warren shows why she has become a hero to all those who believe that America’s working families deserve a fighting chance.
Setting the tone in Warren’s well written and insightful book, is a passage titled; The Game Is Still Rigged, which states: “And now that I’ve been in the United States Senate for two years, I’ve had a chance to see it up close and personal. More than ever, I am convinced that the game is rigged. There are a thousand ways to describe it:
- Wall Street bankers crashed the economy in 2008, and now they’re making millions of dollars more than they did before the crash. Across the country, workers did their jobs honestly and carefully, but 8.7 million men and women were laid off during the Great Recession and the average family is now making less than before the crash.
- When the recession hit, the federal government loaned trillions of dollars to the biggest banks in the country, quietly and out of sight, at interest rates near zero. At the same time, the federal government loaned money to college students at interest rates that were more than ten times higher than those offered to big banks – giving the government tens of billions of dollars in profits made off the backs of students.”
In further regard to Senator Warren's disdain for Wall Street bankers, recently as a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Warren took Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf to task at a hearing and excoriated him by stating that he should resign and that he should be criminally investigated. This was in the aftermath of Wells Fargo being fined $185 million for corporate malfeasance.
United States Senators Elizabeth Waren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) recently sent a letter to Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Tom Perez and Wage and Hour Division Administrator David Weil requesting that DOL investigate whether Wells Fargo violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) with respect to its account executives, bank tellers, branch managers, and customer service represetatives. See attached and reference letter here.
Senator Warren is relentless in her pursuit of wrongdoing by the banking industry, and in particular, Wells Fargo. She followed up with her Senate Banking Committee hearing with Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, after he did indeed resign, with the attached letter to Steven Sanger of Wells Fargo here.
This sounds a bit cynical, and perhaps the reason why Senator Warren decided against running for President, despite the popularity she had generated throughout the country for her views. After reading her book, and in hindsight, I can better understand why Senator Warren decided against running for President. She was going to need President Obama’s support, and with her and the President having some serious differences with the international trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), it became clear that she was not going to get that support. President Obama was actually quoted as saying regarding TPP: “I love Elizabeth. We’re allies on a whole host of issues. But she is wrong on this.” Senator Warren countered, by stating: “The Obama Administration says I am wrong – we shouldn’t worry about TPP. So why can’t the American people read the deal?”
A Fighting Chance says a lot about the character of Senator Warren, and if not now, perhaps at some future point in time she might rethink her run for President. This is an insightful book that gives us a clear view to the inner workings of politics and government in Washington.
Dennis Moore is the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at email@example.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.