Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel
November 25, 2008
|Appointed by||Harry Reid|
Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
|Born||June 22, 1949
|Alma mater||University of Houston, Rutgers School of Law|
|Profession||Lawyer, Law school professor, Appointed official|
Elizabeth Warren (born 1949) is an American attorney and law professor. She is the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School -- where she teaches contract law, bankruptcy, and commercial law -- and has devoted much of the past three decades to studying the economics of middle class families. In the wake of the 2008-9 financial crisis, she became the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to investigate the U.S. banking bailout (formally known as the Troubled Assets Relief Program). In that role, she has provided a critical check on the U.S. Department of the Treasury and has been a leading advocate for accountability and transparency. In 2007, she also advocated the policy of creating a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which President Barack Obama has supported and Congress is now considering.
Warren was born and raised in Oklahoma, where she was a state champion debater. She graduated from the University of Houston with a B.S. in 1970 and received her J.D. in 1976 from Rutgers Law—Newark, where she served as an Editor to the Rutgers Law Review.
Warren appeared in the documentary film Maxed Out in 2006, has appeared several times on Dr. Phil to talk about money and families, has been a guest on the Daily Show, is interviewed frequently on cable news networks, appears in Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, and has appeared on the Charlie Rose talk show.
Warren is married to Bruce Mann, a legal historian and law professor also at Harvard Law School. She has a daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, with whom she has coauthored two books and several articles, and a son, Alexander Warren.
She joined Harvard Law School in 1992 as the Robert Braucher Visiting Professor of Commercial Law. Prior to Harvard, she was the William A. Schnader Professor of Commercial Law at University of Pennsylvania School of Law and also taught at the University of Texas School of Law, University of Houston Law Center, University of Michigan and Rutgers Law School.
Warren is a member of the FDIC's Committee on Economic Inclusion and the Executive Council of the National Bankruptcy Conference. She is the former Vice-President of the American Law Institute and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as the Chief Adviser to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission.
In addition to writing more than 100 scholarly articles and six academic books, Warren has written best-selling books and a number of widely read articles. Her most recent book, coauthored with her daughter, is All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.
Warren is also the co-author (with Tyagi) of The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke (Basic, 2003) (ISBN 0-465-09082-6). Warren and Tyagi point out that a fully employed worker today earns less inflation-adjusted income than a fully employed worker did 30 years ago. To increase their income, families have sent a second parent into the workforce. Although families spend less today on clothing, appliances, and other consumption, the costs of core expenses like mortgages, health care, transportation, child care, and taxes have increased dramatically. The result is that, even with two income earners, families no longer save and have incurred greater and greater debt.
In an article in the New York Times, Jeff Madrick said of Warren's book:
|“||The upshot is that two-income families often have even less income left over today than did an equivalent single-income family 30 years ago, even when they make almost twice as much. And they go deeper in debt. The authors find that it is not the free-spending young or the incapacitated elderly who are declaring bankruptcy so much as families with children. ... their main thesis is undeniable. Typical families often cannot afford the high-quality education, health care and neighborhoods required to be middle class today. More clearly than anyone else, I think, Ms. Warren and Ms. Tyagi have shown how little attention the nation and our government have paid to the way Americans really live.||”|
In an article in Time magazine by Maryanna Murray Buechner, "Parent Trap" (subtitled "Want to go bust? Have a kid. Educate same. Why the middle class never had it so bad"), Buechner said of Warren's book:
|“||For families looking for ways to cope, Warren and Tyagi mainly offer palliatives: Buy a cheaper house. Squirrel away a six-month cash cushion. Yeah, right. But they also know that there are no easy solutions. Readers who are already committed to a house and parenthood will find little to mitigate the deflating sense that they have nowhere to go but down.||”|
In 2005, Dr. David Himmelstein and Warren published a study on bankruptcy and medical bills, which claimed that half of all families filing for bankruptcy did so in the aftermath of a serious medical problem. The finding was particularly noteworthy because 75% of those who fit that description had medical insurance. This study was widely cited, although critics from the insurance industry argued that the criteria used were too loose.. In 2007, the team repeated the study, using more robust criteria. They concluded that the proportion of medical bankruptcies had increased to 62% of personal bankruptcies and that, once again, about three-quarters of those families had health insurance at the onset of their medical problems.
Warren has been recognized for her dynamic teaching style. 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." Warren also has won awards from her students at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and the University of Houston Law Center.
On November 14, 2008, Ms. Warren was appointed by United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to chair the five-member Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the implementation of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act. The Panel writes monthly oversight reports, which are available at cop.senate.gov. Reports have evaluated the Treasury Department’s efforts to mitigate foreclosures, clear toxic assets from the balance sheets of banks, increase consumer and small business lending, and stress test the banks.
The National Law Journal has repeatedly named Professor Warren as one of the fifty most influential female lawyers, and she has been recognized for her work by SmartMoney magazine, Money magazine, and Law Dragon.
In 2009, the Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts honored her with the Leila J. Robinson Award.