By Sam Youngman - 06/20/09 04:01 PM EDT
With banks and other financial institutions pushing back hard, Elizabeth Warren told the American Constitution Society (ACS) that the CFPA is "the keystone in the arch" of the president's planned reforms.
On the same day Obama used his weekly radio address to make a similar push, also focusing on the proposed new agency, Warren said there has been an "attack" on middle-class families because of deregulation that began in the 1980s.
Warren said the new agency is "the first really tough push back to say: 'No more.'"
"Banks are important, but they are not the economy," Warren said. "They are not the country."
Outlining what she and the administration view as predatory lending practices by banks and credit card companies, Warren lauded the passage of a credit card holders bill of rights as an important first step to protect consumers. But she said it is not enough because those companies will only find other loopholes in any new laws.
What is needed, she said, is "an agency that can change over time, an agency that can get smarter."
Warren echoed Obama's address by saying that "the banks pushed back very vigorously and have said that this is the one that is the nonstarter."
To that, she said, "for too long the rules have been written by the powerful."
Appointed to the oversight committee by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not long after Obama was elected, Warren also took a second to take a dig at Congress during the question and answer section of her speech.
When asked how she thinks Congress "feels" about using TARP money to bail out auto companies, Warren deadpanned: "I'm not sure Congress feels anything."