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Bankruptcy and Politics: Junior Senator from Massachusetts Edition

posted by John Pottow

Politics is not my strong suit -- this, ironically, from the faculty sponsor of both the Democratic and Republican student associations at Michigan Law.  (No, I am not confused; I was asked presumably because each group wanted a political independent, and I don't like to play favorites.)  So I have what may be a naive but is nonetheless a genuine question regarding Senator-Elect Warren's upcoming trip to Washington: does this increase the likelihood of substantive amendment of the bankruptcy laws in the next few years?

I'm not talking about full-throated repeal of BAPCPA or anything like that (although maybe I should?), but does having a bankruptcy expert as one senator matter?  Is it a salience focus for committees?  E.g., is it more likley we'll see home mortgage policy addressed through amendments to Chapter 13?  Does it somehow beef up the CFPB knowing they have a "champion" in the Senate?  Does it mean the venue fights will roar back to life?

I'd be curious if those more in the know have thoughts (with apologies in advance if this is dumb/trite).


Well, I voted for Warren not for anything she did in the campaign because she quite frankly never said what she would do for the people of Massachusetts, only that she would take the side of the middle class, so my vote was a vote of hope. Here's hoping that she works for the people of Massachusetts, not as some kind of super senator who will take on the forces of whatever you choose! Just saying.

I would assume 1322(b)(2) would be an obvious target for reform. Not to sound too cynical but I'm not sure if one more Senator in favor of that will change the political calculus.

Have to comment on that first cute line. My colleague Rob Schwartz, a very good Jew, headed our Christian Law Society for many years, as no other faculty member took up the torch! Rock on bi-partisan John!

It all depends on how well Warren can work with her longer-term and more-powerful peers. She must learn the existing culture as a junior Senator and not as a Harvard Professor. I'm not saying cave in; I'm saying you must know how the system actually works before you can expect to make any changes.

Remember that the ABI has a project on the reform of Chapter 11 in the works.

Nothing will get done this session because different parties control the two houses. And the ABI Commission report won't be out until April of 14. It's clear however that the democratic party and its allies are striving to turn the house blue in 14 and then use the ABI commission report, which is going to be a pro-union, anti-secured creditor document, as a professedly apolitical platform to implement Warren's vision of bankruptcy as a means to subordinate the organizations financing the business to workers and tort claimants even if it means that they get zero return on their "collateral".

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