Now Watch Visa Co-opt Elizabeth Warren

elizabethwarren tbi

All joking aside, we really were befuddled by Edmund Andrews’ assertion that killing the proposed consumer protection agency was the “top priority” of the financial services industry.

This is the agency first dreamed up by Elizabeth Warren that would scour the fine print on credit cards and mortgages to make sure that consumers weren’t getting totally screwed. Obama wants it to come into existence, and there’s a fair chance Warren herself will be its first chief.

Andrews provided no evidence that companies were out to kill this proposal, and we’d be very surprised if they actually did that.

In fact, it’s pretty safe to assume the opposite. At some point this summer, we predict, you’ll get a host of big industry names like Visa, American Express, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan, etc. all announcing their support of such an agency, while signing onto some new ‘statement of principles’ towards cleaning up their industry on behalf of consumers.

It will be self-serving bunk of course, as what they’ll really be supporting are new measures to entrench incumbents and preserve the status quo, while wrapping it up in a consumer-friendly bow. Congress will establish the agency, though it’ll be fang-less despite the most sincere intentions of its mastermind Warren.

This is how the proverbial sausage is made. When a popular President has the government moving strongly in one direction (towards more involvement in private industry) big business knows which side to take.

It goes back to this thing Wal-Mart announced yesterday, where they saw the error of their old ways and decided to embrace mandatory healthcare for their employees. Everyone reacted as though this represented the mental evolution of the compny, though of course it was nothing of the sort.

As noted by Tim Carney*, there’s no basis for thinking that Wal-Mart is doing anything new…

This is, of course, absurd. Wal-Mart’s support for this regulation is new, but times have not changed. Wal-Mart, remember, joined labour unions in lobbying for a hike in the minimum wage, and a Wal-Mart executive testified before Congress in favour of cap-and-trade years ago.

And “The highly ideological behaviour of the business community”? What in the world is Yglesias talking about? The Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement of Obama’s stimulus plan? Or the fact that Barney Frank scored higher on the Chamber’s score card than did Ron Paul?

What does Yglesias make of Philip Morris’s decade-long campaign for tobacco regulation, or Mattel’s 2007-08 full-court press for toy-safety rules?

Are GE and Duke Energy’s support fo Waxman-Markey “change” from Enron’s support for U.S. ratification of Kyoto?

And on health care, did Yglesias miss the fact that the big HMOs supported HillaryCare?

And this is exactly what will happen with Elizabeth Warren’s dream. Exactly.

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