Warren Campaigns With Clinton With Eye on Curbing Wall Streetby and
Progressive leader may exert her influence on nominations
Treasury, economic posts likely to get scrutiny from allies
Elizabeth Warren’s vigorous campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton in the closing weeks of the presidential race is feeding expectations that the Massachusetts senator and progressive leader is looking beyond Election Day, laying the groundwork to blunt Wall Street’s influence in a Clinton administration.
With Clinton’s transition team already in the process of compiling names for the hundreds of appointments and nominations that will be made by the next president, Warren is putting herself in a position to have a say when the lists of candidates for posts from Treasury secretary to chief economic adviser are whittled down.
“Treasury is front and center,” said Brian Gardner, managing director for KBW, an investment bank specializing in the financial services sector. That includes the nominees for secretary, as well as undersecretaries for domestic finance and international affairs.
Other key positions that will be in play, he said, include those on the Securities and Exchange Commission, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, National Economic Council and the Council of Economic Advisers, as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Warren helped create.
Clinton can count on Warren as one of her top allies as long as their common enemy is Republican Donald Trump. But if Clinton wins the White House, Warren and the Democratic Party’s progressive wing have reserved the right to play an opposition role. Hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks show Clinton’s campaign advisers have been acutely aware of Warren’s sway within the party from the very start of the campaign. They have been cautiously courting her support since then.
At an appearance Monday with Clinton in the swing state of New Hampshire, Warren did one of the things she does best: needling Trump and emphasizing the contrast between the Republican and Democratic agenda for the country. But she also turned to the subject of banks and corporate greed she believes in "tough rules" and "real accountability" for the financial sector.
“This is Hillary’s agenda,” she said. “It is a progressive agenda.”
Clinton -- who drew criticism from rival Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries for making $675,000 giving three speeches to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. -- responded with effusive praise for Warren and her “mission to stand up against Wall Street.” She said she was looking forward to working with Warren to “rewrite the rules” of the U.S. economy.
“Warren is probably trying to build up some political capital, help Clinton however she can and then cash in the IOUs later,” Gardner said. “There will be a time later in 2017 when Warren and others are going to push back on Clinton, either a legislative deal she tries to strike with Republicans or personnel nominees that she’s contemplating.”
“Personnel is policy,” Warren said in remarks last month to the Center for American Progress, a think tank with Clinton ties. That means financial firms like Citigroup Inc., Morgan Stanley or Blackrock Inc. won’t be “getting to choose who runs the economy in this country so they can capture our government,” she said. “America has had enough of the Masters of the Universe running the show.”
Warren didn’t back any candidate during the Democratic nomination race but quickly endorsed Clinton after voting ended in June, eagerly seizing on the opportunity to be Clinton’s top progressive ally. The two campaigned together in Ohio that month, and since then Warren has kept up a busy travel schedule stumping for Clinton and other Democrats. The two met privately before taking the stage Monday in Manchester.
Wall Street Ties
While Clinton has embraced the issues championed by Warren and Sanders, she hasn’t fully shaken off skepticism among progressives about her own ties to Wall Street or those of current or past advisers who could resurface in a Clinton administration, including Tom Nides, a former deputy secretary of state who is now vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, and Ruth Porat, a former executive at Morgan Stanley who is now chief financial officer at Alphabet Inc.
Sanders, in an interview with the Washington Post published Monday, signaled he would push back if Clinton names the “same old Wall Street guys” to regulatory positions.
“It’s very clear to any political actor including Hillary Clinton that it’s better to have Elizabeth Warren actively on your side rather than working against you,” Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. “In a governing context there’s a real incentive for the Clinton administration to appoint people to positions with power over Wall Street that have a proven track record of challenging corporate power.”
Dennis Kelleher, president and CEO of Better Markets, an advocacy group founded in the wake of the financial crisis, said he thinks Clinton has gotten Warren’s message and expects her personnel choices won’t be particularly controversial. “There’s no easier way to kill an agenda than to have a divisive fight over a nomination,” he said. “No one can afford to split the caucus.”
If Democrats do win control of the Senate, they will likely have a slim majority next year. In that scenario, Warren’s ability to demand a slate of progressive nominees may be limited by the political considerations of moderate Democrats like Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who face difficult re-election races in 2018.