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Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren--Official 113th Congressional Portrait--.jpg
United States Senator
from Massachusetts
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Serving with Ed Markey
Preceded by Scott Brown
Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
In office
September 17, 2010 – August 1, 2011
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Raj Date
Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel
In office
November 25, 2008 – November 15, 2010
Deputy Damon Silvers
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Ted Kaufman
Personal details
Born Elizabeth Ann Herring
June 22, 1949 (age 65)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political party Republican (Before 1996)[1]
Democratic (1996–present)
Spouse(s) Jim Warren (1968–1978)
Bruce Mann (1980–present)
Children Amelia
Alma mater George Washington University
University of Houston
Rutgers University, Newark
Religion United Methodism
Website Senate website
Campaign website

Elizabeth Ann Warren[2] (née Herring; born June 22, 1949[3]) is an American academic and politician who is the senior United States Senator from Massachusetts and a member of the Democratic Party. She was previously a Harvard Law School professor specializing in bankruptcy law. Warren is an active consumer protection advocate whose work led to the conception and establishment of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She has written a number of academic and popular works, and is a frequent subject of media interviews regarding the American economy and personal finance.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, Warren served as chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). She later served as Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under President Barack Obama. During the late 2000s, she was recognized by publications such as the National Law Journal and the Time 100 as an increasingly influential public policy figure.

In September 2011, Warren announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate, challenging Republican incumbent Scott Brown. She won the general election on November 6, 2012, becoming the first female Senator from Massachusetts. She was assigned to the Senate Special Committee on Aging; the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee; and the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

Warren has been described as a leading figure in the Democratic Party and among American progressives,[4][5] and has frequently been mentioned by political pundits as a potential 2016 presidential candidate despite Warren’s repeated statements that she is not running for president.[6][7]

Early life, education, and family

Warren was born on June 22, 1949,[3][8] in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to working class parents Pauline (née Reed) and Donald Jones Herring.[9][10][11] She was their fourth child, with three older brothers.[12] When she was twelve, her father, a janitor, had a heart attack—which led to many medical bills, as well as a pay cut because he could not do his previous work.[13] Eventually, this led to the loss of their car from failure to make loan payments. To help the family finances, her mother found work in the catalog-order department at Sears[14] and Elizabeth began working as a waitress at her aunt’s restaurant.[12][15]

She became a star member of the debate team at Northwest Classen High School and won the title of “Oklahoma’s top high-school debater” while competing with debate teams from high schools throughout the state. She also won a debate scholarship to George Washington University at the age of 16.[13] Initially aspiring to be a teacher, she left GWU after two years to marry her high-school boyfriend, Jim Warren.[12][16][17]

She moved to Houston with her husband, who was a NASA engineer.[16] There she enrolled in the University of Houston, graduating in 1970 with a degree in speech pathology and audiology.[18] For a year, she taught children with disabilities in a public school, based on an “emergency certificate,” as she had not taken the education courses required for a regular teaching certificate.[19][20][21]

Warren and her husband moved to New Jersey for his work where, after becoming pregnant, she decided to remain at home to care for their child.[22][23] After her daughter turned two, Warren enrolled at the Rutgers School of Law–Newark.[22] She worked as a summer associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. Shortly before her graduation in 1976, Warren became pregnant with her second child, and began to work as a lawyer from home, writing wills and doing real estate closings.[17][22]

After having two children, Amelia and Alexander, she and Jim Warren divorced in 1978.[13][24] In 1980, Warren married Bruce Mann, a Harvard law professor, but retained the surname, Warren.[24]

Political affiliation

Warren voted as a Republican for many years saying, “I was a Republican because I thought that those were the people who best supported markets”.[16] She states that in 1995 she began to vote Democratic because she no longer believed that to be true, but she says that she has voted for both parties because she believed that neither party should dominate.[25]


Warren discussing the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the ICBA conference in 2011

During the late 1970s, the 1980s, and the 1990s, Warren taught law at several universities throughout the country, while researching issues related to bankruptcy and middle-class personal finance.[22] Warren taught at the Rutgers School of Law–Newark during 1977–1978, the University of Houston Law Center from 1978 to 1983, and the University of Texas School of Law from 1981 to 1987, in addition to teaching at the University of Michigan as a visiting professor in 1985 and as a research associate at the University of Texas at Austin from 1983 to 1987.[26]

She joined the University of Pennsylvania Law School as a tenured professor in 1987, and became William A Schnader Professor of Commercial Law in 1990. She taught for a year at Harvard Law School in 1992, as Robert Braucher Visiting Professor of Commercial Law. In 1995, Warren left Pennsylvania to become Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.[26]

In 1995, Warren was asked to advise the National Bankruptcy Review Commission.[27] She helped to draft the commission’s report and worked for several years to oppose legislation intended to severely restrict the right of consumers to file for bankruptcy. Warren and others opposing the legislation were not successful; in 2005 Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.[28]

From November 2006 to November 2010, Warren was a member of the FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion.[29] She is a member of the National Bankruptcy Conference, an independent organization that advises the U.S. Congress on bankruptcy law.[30] She is a former Vice-President of the American Law Institute and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[31]

Public life

Warren has had a high public profile; she has appeared in the documentary films, Maxed Out and Michael Moore‘s Capitalism: A Love Story.[32] She has appeared numerous times on television programs including Dr. Phil and The Daily Show,[33] and has been interviewed frequently on cable news networks and radio programs.

Warren stands next to President Barack Obama as he announces the nomination of Richard Cordray as the first director of the CFPB, July 2011

TARP oversight

On November 14, 2008, 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.[34] The Panel released monthly oversight reports that evaluate the government bailout and related programs.[35] During Warren’s tenure, these reports covered foreclosure mitigation, consumer and small business lending, commercial real estate, AIG, bank stress tests, the impact of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) on the financial markets, government guarantees, the automotive industry, and other topics.[a]

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Warren was an early advocate for the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The bureau was established by the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act signed into law by President Obama in July 2010. In September 2010, President Obama named Warren Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to set up the new agency.[36] While liberal groups and consumer advocacy groups pushed for Obama to formally nominate Warren as the agency’s director, Warren was strongly opposed by financial institutions and by Republican members of Congress who believed Warren would be an overly zealous regulator.[37][38][39] Reportedly convinced that Warren could not win Senate confirmation as the bureau’s first director,[40] Obama turned to former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and in January 2012, over the objections of Republican Senators, appointed Cordray to the post in a recess appointment.[41][42]

U.S. Senate

2012 election

On September 14, 2011, Warren declared her intention to run for the Democratic nomination for the 2012 election in Massachusetts for the United States Senate. The seat had been won by Republican Scott Brown in a 2010 special election after the death of Ted Kennedy.[43][44] A week later, a video of Warren speaking in Andover became popular on the internet.[45] In it, Warren replies to the charge that asking the rich to pay more taxes is “class warfare,” pointing out that no one grew rich in America without depending on infrastructure paid for by the rest of society, stating:[46][47]

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. … You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

Warren at a campaign event, November 2012

President Barack Obama later echoed her sentiments in a 2012 election campaign speech.[48]

In April 2012, the Boston Herald drew attention to Warren’s law directory entries from 1986 to 1995, in which she had self-identified as having Native American ancestry.[49][50] According to Warren and her brothers, they grew up “listening to our mother and grandmother and other relatives talk about our family’s Cherokee and Delaware heritage”.[51][52][53][54] Harvard Law School had added her to a list of minority professors in response to criticisms about a lack of faculty diversity, but Warren said that she was unaware that Harvard had done so until she read about it in a newspaper.[55][56][57] While the New England Historical Genealogical Society has no documentary proof that either confirms or denies that Warren has Cherokee ancestors,[52][58] the Oklahoma Historical Society said that finding a definitive answer about Native American heritage can be difficult because of intermarriage and deliberate avoidance of registration.[59] This issue became the focus of election coverage in the media for several weeks, during which time members of the Cherokee Nation protested her claims and questioned how it influenced her employers while her opponents demanded more scrutiny.[49] Colleagues and supervisors at the schools where she had worked have publicly stated that she did not receive preferential treatment.[52][56][57]

Warren ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination, and won it on June 2, 2012, at the state Democratic convention with a record 95.77% of the votes of delegates.[60] She was endorsed by the Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick.[61] Warren and her opponent Scott Brown agreed to engage in four televised debates, including one with a consortium of media outlets in Springfield and one on WBZ-TV in Boston.[62]

Results by Municipality.

Warren encountered significant opposition from business interests. In August 2012, Rob Engstrom, political director for the United States Chamber of Commerce, claimed that “no other candidate in 2012 represents a greater threat to free enterprise than Professor Warren.”[63] She nonetheless raised $39 million for her campaign, the most of any Senate candidate in 2012.[40]

Warren received a primetime speaking slot at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, immediately before Bill Clinton, on the evening of September 5, 2012. Warren positioned herself as a champion of a beleaguered middle class that “has been chipped, squeezed, and hammered.” According to Warren, “People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here’s the painful part: They’re right. The system is rigged.” Warren said that Wall Street CEOs “wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs” and that they “still strut around congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them.”[64][65][66]


Warren attending the swearing in of Senator Mo Cowan in the Old Senate Chamber.

On November 6, 2012, Warren defeated incumbent Scott Brown with a total of 53.7% of the votes. She is the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts,[67] as part of a sitting U.S. Senate that has 20 female senators currently in office, the largest female U.S. Senate delegation in history, following the November 2012 elections. In December 2012, Warren was assigned a seat on the Senate Banking Committee, the committee that oversees the implementation of Dodd-Frank and other regulation of the banking industry.[68] Warren was sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden on January 3, 2013.[69] Upon John Kerry‘s resignation to become United States Secretary of State, Warren became the state’s senior senator after having served for less than a month, making her the most junior senior senator.

At Warren’s first Banking Committee hearing on February 14, 2013, she pressed several banking regulators to answer when they had last taken a Wall Street bank to trial and stated, “I’m really concerned that ‘too big to fail’ has become ‘too big for trial.'” Videos of Warren’s questioning became popular on the internet, amassing more than 1 million views in a matter of days.[70] At a Banking Committee hearing in March, Warren questioned Treasury Department officials why criminal charges were not brought against HSBC for its money laundering practices. With her questions being continually dodged and her visibly upset, Warren then compared money laundering to drug possession, saying “if you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to go to jail… But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.”[71]

Warren is in favor of increasing the minimum wage and has argued that if the minimum wage had followed increases in worker productivity in the United States, it would now be at least $22 an hour.[72][73]

In May, Warren sent letters to Justice Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Federal Reserve, questioning their decisions that settling rather than going to court would be more fruitful.[74] Later that month, Warren introduced her first bill, the Bank on Student Loans Fairness Act, which would allow students to take out government education loans at the same rate that banks such as Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase pay to borrow from the federal government. Suggesting that students should get “the same great deal that banks get,” Warren proposed that new student borrowers be able to take out a federally subsidized loan at 0.75%, the rate paid by banks, compared with the current 3.4% student loan rate.[75] Endorsing her bill days after its introduction, Independent Senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders stated: “the only thing wrong with this bill is that [she] thought of it and I didn’t” on The Thom Hartmann Program.[76]

During the 2014 election cycle, Warren was a top Democratic fundraiser, supporting candidates in Ohio, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, Michigan, and Kentucky. In the aftermath of the election, Warren was appointed by Majority Leader Harry Reid (the same man who made her Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel) to become the first ever Strategic Advisor of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, a position that was created just for her. The move is widely seen as an effort by Reid to lean his party more to the left following major Democratic losses in the recent election. It would also end up boosting further speculation about a possible presidential run on part of Warren in 2016.[77][78][79][80]

In the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election, Warren’s name has been put forward by liberal Democrats as a possible presidential candidate. However, Warren has stated that she is not running for President in the 2016 race.[81][82]

Committee assignments


Warren at the 2009 Time 100 Gala

In 2009, the Boston Globe named her the Bostonian of the Year,[18] and the Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts honored her with the Lelia J. Robinson Award.[83] She was named one of Time Magazines 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2009 and 2010.[84] The National Law Journal repeatedly has named Warren as one of the Fifty Most Influential Women Attorneys in America,[85] and in 2010 it honored her as one of the 40 most influential attorneys of the decade.[86] In 2011, Elizabeth Warren was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.[87] In January 2012, Warren was named a “Top-20 U.S. Progressive” by the New Statesman, a magazine based in the United Kingdom.[88]

In 2009, Warren became the first professor in Harvard’s history to win the law school’s The Sacks–Freund Teaching Award for a second time.[89] She delivered the commencement address at the Rutgers School of Law–Newark in May 2011, where she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree and was conferred membership into the Order of the Coif.[90]

Books and other works

Warren and her daughter Amelia Tyagi wrote The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke. 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. Although families spend less today on clothing, appliances, and other consumption, the costs of core expenses such as mortgages, health care, transportation, and child care have increased dramatically. The result is, that even with two income-earners, families are no longer able to save and they have incurred greater and greater debt.[91]

In an article in The New York Times, Jeff Madrick said of Warren’s book:

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.[92]

In 2005, Warren and David Himmelstein published a study on bankruptcy and medical bills,[93] which found that half of all families filing for bankruptcy did so in the aftermath of a serious medical problem. They say that three quarters of such families had medical insurance.[94] This study was widely cited in policy debates, although some have challenged the study’s methods and offered alternative interpretations of the data, suggesting that only seventeen percent of bankruptcies are directly attributable to medical expenses.[95]

Warren’s book A Fighting Chance was published by Metropolitan Books in April 2014.[96] According to a review published in The Boston Globe, “The book’s title refers to a time she says is now gone, when even families of modest means who worked hard and played by the rules had at a fair shot at the American dream.”[97]

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Selected articles

See also


  1. All reports and videos are available online at




Further reading

Book review: ‘A Fighting Chance’ by Elizabeth Warren – Books – The Boston Globe

External links

Academic offices
New creation Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law of Harvard Law School
Succeeded by
James Salzman
Preceded by
Conrad Harper
Second Vice President of the American Law Institute
Succeeded by
Allen Black
Government offices
New office Chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Panel
Succeeded by
Ted Kaufman
Special Advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Succeeded by
Raj Date
Party political offices
Preceded by
Martha Coakley
Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
(Class 1)

Most recent
United States Senate
Preceded by
Scott Brown
U.S. Senator (Class 1) from Massachusetts
Served alongside: John Kerry, Mo Cowan, Ed Markey
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Ted Cruz
United States Senators by seniority
Succeeded by
Deb Fischer
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