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Warren’s heavy hand

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has positioned herself carefully over the years as a populist hero, one who would presumably fight back against Wall Street and for the common person. However, recently she has used that narrative to grow her power and influence so large that she stands to be an even more corrupt presence in Washington than those she has sworn to challenge.

She has taken the veto pen from the president when it comes to presidential appointments, by killing the nomination of Antonio Weiss for an influential role at Treasury. She continues to shoot down any SEC commissioner nominees who have relevant industry experience.

{mosads}Last week, she forced the resignation of Robert Litan from the Brookings Institution after he put out a study that just happened to have a contrasting outlook on a divisive rulemaking from the Department of Labor regarding the standard of care for financial advisers. As a former academic, it seems that Warren has forgotten her previous career where thoughtful individuals engage in open debate, instead of silencing any viewpoints different from her own.

In full disclosure, I have extensively railed against this DOL regulation and I sincerely believe that it will cost investors dearly and shut out millions of low- and middle-income investors from receiving sound financial advice. However, I have looked at both sides of the issue extensively and welcome debate from the other side of the aisle, though many of my Democrat colleagues share my concerns with this rule. It seems to me that the senator from Massachusetts should take the time to look at the contents of Litan’s study rather than a footnote at the bottom of the first page.

Finally, she seems to have firm control over Democrats here in the House of Representatives, despite serving on the other side of the Capitol. She spoke at the House Financial Services Democrat Committee retreat earlier this year to lock these members down after many of them supported a strongly bipartisan Dodd-Frank fix last year. She demonstrated her influence again last week during a markup in the House Financial Services Committee. The Retail Investor Protection Act, which I sponsored, would stop the Department of Labor from implementing their rule, the same rule she so visibly supported at the Brookings Institute. Last week it received just a single Democrat vote in Committee markup, despite receiving the support of 13 Financial Services Democrats last Congress.

Additionally, another bill that would have placed her darling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the control of a bipartisan commission rather than a single director drew little Democrat support. Multiple Democrats were expected to support this bill, but ultimately Warren picked up her phone the night before and bullied those on the fence into backing down. This decision is distinctly in line with Warren’s modus operandi; she would prefer one person to be in charge, rather than engage in a robust debate and different perspectives when issues come before the bureau’s consideration.

At the end of the day, who will stand up to Elizabeth Warren? She has made the White House demure in their nominee suggestions, she has made academic think tanks dump long-time, respected employees for expressing an opposing view, and she makes House Democrats cower at the mention of her name.  Warren’s brand of intimidation truly is what is wrong with Washington. She has declared that it is her way or the highway, and that there will be consequences for opposing her. So, here with this op-ed, I am ready to say that I will stand up to Sen. Warren, for those millions of low- and middle-income investors who will lose retirement advice and for the protection of free speech and free exchange of thought when it comes to governing.

Wagner has represented Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013. She sits on the Financial Services Committee.

Tags Elizabeth Warren

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