Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Saturday called Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell a “dangerous man” who is working in the interests of corporate donors at the expense of Main Street.
Warren appeared at a conference for union members across the country hosted by Ohio state labor federation Change to Win.
In a short speech, Warren denounced what she called the Trump administration’s secretive regulatory agenda, which includes the mergers of some of the largest bank holding companies.
In particular, Warren seized on the approval of banks under the Fed’s Open Market Committee, including Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase and Citi, for what she said was an “excessive concentration of power” by the bank holding companies.
“If you’re a bank, Washington, they want you to have as much power as possible,” Warren said. “If you’re any other business, they want you to have as little power as possible.”
Warren’s assault came amid reports that a nominee to the Fed’s board, investor Randal Quarles, has been going to bat for the Citi executives. Quarles is now widely expected to be tapped by President Trump to fill the vacant seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.
Asked about reports of Quarles’s advocacy for Wall Street interests, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin initially criticized the reporting as “wrong.”
But later, Mnuchin told reporters: “I’ve spoken to Randal, he has no conflicts of interest. He is a Wall Streeter, he is a Wall Streeter, he’s a Wall Streeter.”
Warren said that would be “no problem” if a well-qualified business person were chosen to fill the post. But she added, “I don’t understand why you would put Randal Quarles there, as a well-qualified Wall Streeter. This is a dangerous man.”
Dawn Sweeney, CEO of U.S. Bancorp, in remarks Friday before the council of American Bankers, said Quarles as an investment banker and board member for several big financial firms would “likely serve to further defang the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
The president said recently that the CFPB has “gone rogue.”
“There’s no need for a CFPB,” Trump said. “They should be abolished.”
Quarles’s nomination faces a likely Senate confirmation battle with opposition from Warren and others.
The California Democrat said she would be “mobilizing members of Congress to fight against this nomination.”
After her speech, Warren said in an interview with local reporters she intends to hold “testimony” with Quarles, and “that is absolutely not a done deal yet.”
With the passage of time, Trump appears to be close to nominating a new Fed Board member. The president told reporters on Thursday that his administration is “very close” to filling a vacancy on the board.
Quarles, a former Treasury undersecretary in President George W. Bush’s administration, served as an investment banker for JP Morgan Chase and other companies. He was also a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Earlier this week, two senators from the region — Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) — wrote to the Federal Reserve asking Quarles to recuse himself from any deliberations on possible changes to the CFPB, according to a document obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.
If confirmed, Quarles could make his mark on financial regulations by advocating for the end of the CFPB, the nation’s leading consumer bureau.
The “Not One Penny” campaign — and a need for a recall effort for Gov. John Kasich (R) in Ohio — were also significant items on Warren’s weekend agenda. She also addressed Congress about providing “fix-it” Medicare provisions that would address the cost of drug prices for the poor.