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Profile of Sen Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts

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Democratic National Convention: Day 2
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Elizabeth Warren, Professor, Attorney, Presidential and Congressional Advisor:

Progressive Democrat Elizabeth Warren was elected to the U.S. Senate in November 2012, after a heated battle with Republican incumbent Scott Brown. Warren occupies the U.S. Senate seat held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy from 1962 to his passing in 2009.

Attorney Elizabeth Warren was originator of the push for a federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She was appointed by President Obama in late 2010 as Special Advisor to oversee the new bureau's development.

A respected, much-honored law professor, Warren has on Harvard Law School's faculty since 1995. She also served from 2008-2010 as Congressional Oversight Panel Chair. Time magazine named her among the World's 100 Most Influential People in 2009 and 2010.

Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:

Warren is long-time champion for a federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which became law in July 2010 with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. She was appointed by President Obama two months later as Special Advisor to oversee development of the new bureau.

Liberal groups, including AFL-CIO labor unions, had urged President Obama to nominate pro-consumer Warren to lead the powerful new bureau, but Senate Republicans were nearly unanimous in opposing her.

Chair, Congressional Oversight Panel, formerly TARP - 2008 to 2010:

"... Harry Reid... asked Ms. Warren to head Congressional oversight of the bank bailout. It was a vague job, sketched out in a hurry, but she interpreted her mandate aggressively. Instead of issuing standard monthly reports, she turned them into independent research projects, bulletins and videos asking pointed questions about Treasury’s treatment of the banks," per the New York Times.

"She argued that Geithner, who in 2008 oversaw the rescue as president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, didn’t adequately consider alternatives to government aid that would have penalized... Wall Street" per Politico.com.

Elizabeth Warren at Harvard Law School:

Warren became the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard University Law School in 1995. She teaches, researches and publishes on bankruptcy, contracts and commercial law, and related effects on women, the elderly, and the working poor.

"In 2009, Warren became the first professor in Harvard's history to win the law school's teaching award twice. The Sacks-Freund Teaching Award was voted on by the graduating class in honor of 'her teaching ability, openness to student concerns, and contributions to student life at Harvard," per Wikipedia.

Professor Warren is on leave of absence from Harvard for the 2010-2011 term.

Before Harvard University Law School Professor:

During law school, Elizabeth Warren clerked at Cadwaler, Wickersham & Taft law firm in New York City. After graduation, she juggled parenting and her own law practice in New Jersey which focused on wills and real estate.

While establishing her practice, she accepted a last-minute teaching opportunity at nearby alma mater Rutgers Law School, an assignment that fueled her passion to be a law professor. Warren went on to hold tenure-track law school positions at Universities of Houston(1978-83), Texas (1983-87),and Pennsylvania (1987-95), before moving to Harvard in 1995.

Personal Data:

  • Birth - Jun 22, 1949 in Oklahoma City, to working class parents Donald and Pauline Herring. She has three older brothers.

  • Education - Won a debate scholarship to George Washington University. After marrying at age 19, Warren transferred to University of Houston. B.S., speech pathology, 1970. J.D., Rutgers University Law School, 1976. Editor of Rutgers Law Review.

  • Familly - Married since 1980 to second husband, Bruce Mann, a Harvard Law professor. Two adult children, Amelia Warren Tyagi, her co-author on two books, and Alexander Warren. Two granddaughters, Octavia and Lavinia.

  • Faith - Christian, Methodist denomination

Family Depression-era Background:

"... my parents were from Depression-era, dust-bowl Oklahoma... They hadn't recovered from the Depression and I guess in many ways they never did. They talked about it, those were the stories that permeated my childhood, what it was like to have seven years of drought, what it was like when nobody had any money, what it was like when all your neighbors left to go to California... My parents hung on, they stayed, my father worked a series of different jobs. He was a maintenance man in an apartment house -- it was his last job -- but they always saw themselves as middle-class people." Source - UC Berkeley Interview

In Her Own Words:

On the Importance of a Strong Middle Class

"A strong middle class is what gives us a strong democracy, it's what gives us a strong economy, it's what makes us flexible and able to compete in the world, it's what makes us who we are.

" Here's what I fear. Here's what I think these data point toward. I think they point toward a larger upper class -- I don't want to take away from that, there are more people who are doing well, and I'm not just talking about at the billionaire level, I'm talking about at the $150,000 - $200,000 level. It's a bigger group.

"If you don't get sick, if you don't lose your job, if you don't have a divorce, if you don't have a death in your family, none of the stumbles hit you, and you've got a good job and you hang on to it for forty years, you've got a good chance to be in a new upper class that is larger.

"But the rest is just one big underclass. It's families that are living paycheck to paycheck, who are dealing this week with debt collectors and next week with late fees and 29% interest on the credit card, who are on a treadmill that they can never get out of debt, never put anything aside in the way of savings."

Source - Interview, Institute of International Studies at U.C. Berkeley, March 8, 2007

Education Is the Answer and Antidote

"I put my nickel on education. If Americans are going to remain competitive, that that's our only shot. We can't afford to waste a single young person in America. We need to get as many of them as well educated as we can, and that means on through college. That has become the new secular religion."

Source - Interview, Institute of International Studies at U.C. Berkeley, March 8, 2007

On Bankruptcy and Middle-Class America

"... you can say we don't have to worry about those folks who go bankrupt,... but we reached a point in America a few years ago where more people went through bankruptcy than graduated from college in a single year! More people filed for bankruptcy than had a heart attack. More children lived in homes that were filing for bankruptcy than in homes that were filing for divorce.

" What that starts to tell you is there's not anybody left in middle-class America who either hasn't gone bankrupt or doesn't have a brother, or a cousin, or a teacher, or a sister, or a dear friend who has lost a job, who has gotten sick, who has had to go through this process."

Source - Interview, Institute of International Studies at U.C. Berkeley, March 8, 2007

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