Elizabeth Warren, the consumer champion who advised the Obama administration with the set-up of the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), has picked up the support of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) as she considers taking on Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in next year’s election.
A prominent consumer advocate, Warren helped the administration set up the CFPB, established in last year’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, which is designed to help protect Americans from the sorts of abuses of the financial industry which helped lead to the 2008 economic meltdown.
Due to political opposition from Republicans, President Obama passed Warren over as his nominee as the first permanent director of the CFPB. That job went to former Ohio state Attorney General Richard Cordray. His nomination remains pending before the Senate.
Instead, she recently founded an exploratory committee for a potential U.S. Senate run in Massachusetts. Brown stunned the political world last year with an upset victory for his Senate seat, in which he earned the right to serve the remainder of the term of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.). Brown, the first Republican elected to the Senate from the liberal-leaning Bay State in 30 years, next year will be running for his first full six-year term.
In a statement, the MNA says it is the first labor union to endorse Warren, and its 23,000 nurse members combined with 147,000 additional members of its national affiliate, the National Nurses United (NNU) from across the country helps provide the potential Senate candidate with strong motivation to enter the race.
“Even though she is not yet an official candidate, the MNA Board has taken the unprecedented step of voting to support her,” says Donna Kelly-Williams, registered nurse and president of the MNA. “Her dedication to the nation’s middle class, which she has demonstrated through her work as a faithful consumer advocate both locally and nationally, reflects one of the MNA’s key goals: Restoring a basic standard of living for working people by creating financial remedies that hold Wall Street accountable while protecting those who live and work on Main Street USA.”
The MNA, in conjunction with the NNU, has started a national campaign called “The Main Street Contract.” The campaign, the unions say, is dedicated to many of the same issues that Warren has focused on resolving through her work as a Harvard University professor and bankruptcy attorney, as well as in her role at the CFPB, including:
•Providing jobs at living wages for everyone
•Creating a secure retirement system that allows everyone to live out their lives with dignity
•Establishing a just taxation system where corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share
“For too long now we have seen the results of Wall Street controlling the economy,” says Karen Higgins, registered nurse and co-president of the NNU. “It is time for the ‘Main Street’ values of financial equality and fairness to take precedence, and Elizabeth Warren is the person to lead us in that direction. She will go to Washington D.C. not to serve the interests of Wall Street, but to serve the interests of working people in Massachusetts and across America.”
Warren has spent years fighting for working-class families and highlighting the need for financial reform and meaningful consumer protection, the nurses union notes. Following the financial crisis of 2008, she became the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel, which was created to oversee the U.S. banking bailout.
The creation of the CFPB was a brainchild of Warren’s.
Warren is not the only Massachusetts Democrat looking to oppose Brown. Others include Alan Khazei, the co-founder of the City Year youth program; Rep. Michael Capuano; Rep. Stephen Lynch; first-term Newton Mayor Setti Warren; businessman Robert Pozen; and Robert Massie, a former candidate for lieutenant governor.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.