LENOX - Focusing on her populist message of economic reform and tighter regulation of the financial system, U.S. Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren came out swinging on Sunday afternoon as she met with supporters and basked in a warm welcome from voters as she waded into deep Democratic waters during a one-hour walkabout in Lenox.
The candidate for the Democratic nomination also stopped at the Soldier On home for disabled veterans in Pittsfield and attended a campaign fundraiser in Stockbridge.
Warren told The Eagle that because of JPMorgan's $2 billion or more trading loss, which she labeled a "scandal," bank CEO Jamie Dimon should resign from the board of the New York Federal Reserve.
"Foxes shouldn't guard the henhouse," she stated. "It is an obvious conflict of interest for him to be advising the Fed and having some supervisory position. He has admitted that the practices at JP Morgan were sloppy and stupid and there should be some consequences for that."
"One of the consequences is that he should not be in a position of public trust," Warren asserted. "The public has the right to believe that the people in a supervisory capacity in our financial system are not those who engage in practices they themselves describe as 'sloppy and stupid.' " Warren also argued that the "JP Morgan scandal shows that the big institutions are loading up on risk and they're not subject to serious oversight. They're so large and they're linked, so they put all of us at risk."
As for the meltdown in Facebook's public stock offering last week, Warren said that issue also illustrates the need for "good strong rules that promote transparency and a level playing field, and a tough cop on the beat to make sure those rules are enforced. That means the markets work for everyone, and that's what gives investors confidence."
She characterized as a " close call" whether implementing the Dodd-Frank financial reform law would have prevented the JP Chase Morgan losses, depending on details still to emerge.
Warren also expressed "deep concern" over a possible U.S. Supreme Court ruling, expected next month, that may overturn parts or all of President Obama's health care reform act. "The court is wading into policy territory," she maintained. "Its job is to determine constitutionality, not whether they would have written a different law."
"So much is on the line," she continued. "It's not just coverage, it's how to bring down health care costs, making sure kids can be covered on their parents' policies until they're 26, prohibiting discrimination against people based on their previous health problems. It's all these pieces." Describing the question of whether she has improperly claimed partial Cherokee heritage as a "Scott Brown weapon of mass distraction," Warren sidestepped an opportunity to directly engage the incumbent Republican senator on an issue that has failed to gain traction with Massachusetts voters, according to several polls.
"American families are getting hammered, and that's the most important thing I can talk about," she said. "That's why I got in this race."
Asked about the possibility that she might face a Democratic primary challenge by Marisa deFranco, a North Shore immigration lawyer, if she wins 15 percent delegate support at next weekend's state convention in Springfield, Warren limited her comments to describing her as "a smart, hard-working woman."
"You're staying with issues, not with the trivia," called out one passerby. "We're counting on you."
"I'll do my best," Warren replied cheerfully as she concluded her impromptu tour of downtown Lenox, organized by state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox.
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