Would embracing the Occupy Wall Street movement help or hurt Democrats in the 2012 elections? As many Democratic politicians struggle with this question, one candidate, Elizabeth Warren, running to replace Republican Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, has said she played a role in the foundation of the movement.
“I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do. I support what they do,” Warren told The Daily Beast.
Warren was a professor of commercial law at Harvard Law School before joining the Obama administration. Much of her academic work laid the foundation for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was formed by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Warren joined the Obama administration after passage of the Dodd-Frank Act to oversee the implementation of the CFPB.
Warren's academic work specializes in the study of bankruptcy. One of her most cited academic studies showed that half of all personal bankruptcies were caused by costly medical bills, though some dispute those findings.
She has also authored books for a general audience. She wrote The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke (2003) with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi. They described the financial difficulties that middle-income families were having, even when both parents work. Her description of families on the brink of financial ruin foretold, to some degree, the financial collapse of 2008.
Warren has been a media favorite and appeared on shows such as “Dr. Phil.” She has long complained about tactics used by banks to hide the true cost of credit card debt and impose higher interest rates, a problem the CFPB is designed to resolve.
While Warren has become a hero to liberals and bane to conservatives, one conservative columnist described her as a “closet conservative.” “At times, her complaints on behalf of the middle class sound positively Nixonian,” Christopher Caldwell, senior editor of The Weekly Standard, wrote.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee view Warren's embrace of the Occupy Wall Street Movement as a strategic blunder. It sent an email criticizing Warren's comments to The Daily Beast.
“Warren’s decision to not only embrace, but take credit for this movement is notable considering the Boston Police Department was recently forced to arrest at least 141 of her Occupy acolytes in Boston the other day after they threatened to tie up traffic downtown and refused to abide by their protest permit limits,” the NRSC wrote.
Warren clarified her comments in a Tuesday interview with a local news station in Massachusetts.
“There’s not a question of is there not enough credit to go around, that’s not the issue here. I have been protesting Wall Street for a very long time. Occupy Wall Street is an organic movement; it expresses an enormous frustration and gives great space all around the country for people to talk about what’s broken,” Warren said.