Elizabeth Warren banks on a plum assignment

The financial industry spent millions trying to defeat Elizabeth Warren, but throwing money at Scott Brown didn’t work out so well. In a classic case of instant karma getting Wall Street, the person who should have been head of the new federal consumer financial protection agency is almost assured of a seat on the Senate Banking Committee, which writes the legislation affecting the financial industry. Not only that, but the consumer agency falls under the purview of the banking committee.

Since Warren’s election to the Senate, the news media ginned up the story that dark forces were angling to keep her off the banking committee.  Calls for her to appointment to the committee (the choice is up to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who puts the vote to the Democratic caucus) began to pile up, and the liberal group Move.org raised funds to lobby for a spot on the panel for her, according to a Wall Street Journal story.

Industry insiders insist that the controversy has been overblown. “The committee perch gives her a microphone, but she has a microphone anyway,” an industry official told Politico. “Nobody I’ve heard of is taking any steps to use whatever little capital they have with Senate leadership to keep her off — nobody I’ve heard of.”

The claim becomes even more nonsensical considering that Wall Street interests would be better served by lobbying for one of their own, say JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, to take over from Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner when he leaves the Obama Cabinet.

An interesting test for Warren is already on the table. President Obama installed Richard Cordray, the current Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director, via a recess appointment that expires at the end of 2013.  Still in a snit about the agency, Senate Republicans had insisted on creating a commission to oversee it before agreeing to confirm Cordray. Thwarted by the GOP the first time, Cordray is apparently gun shy about a second Senate confirmation battle.

If Warren promised “blood and teeth on the floor” in her fight to establish the watchdog agency, how many bones she would she be willing to break to secure a permanent director?  Or might Warren just confound everyone by taking a page out of the Hillary Clinton playbook, as the National Journal recently noted, and work quietly behind the scenes to identify a person who can get confirmed?

                                                                                –GABRIELLE GURLEY

BEACON HILL

Gov. Deval Patrick, forecasting a $540 million budget gap for this year, calls for a series of cuts that include a $9 million reduction in local aid, WBUR reports.

The Tim Cahill corruption case goes to the jury.

Outgoing state Rep. Paul Adams takes a shot at his Democratic colleagues in his final House speech, the State House News Service reports (via Lowell Sun).

The Patrick administration is launching a comprehensive study of the state’s underground economy, in which employers skirt tax and labor laws.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

In front of a packed anti-tax business crowd, the Brockton City Council voted to hike property taxes but shifted more of the burden onto commercial than homeowners.

Boston launches City Hall to Go, a rolling mini municipal outpost where residents can do business that otherwise requires a trip downtown.

Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy is struggling to figure out what to do with a municipal golf course, the Item reports.

The Worcester City Council shoots down a bid to put the body on record as opposing marijuana dispensaries within the city, the Telegram & Gazette reports.

A Hanson man who was videotaped flipping a table over (at the 10:10 mark) on members of the board of health during a rowdy public hearing last month will be arraigned in Plymouth District Court next week on charges of assault and battery.

Fall River city councilors received appraisals and environmental reports for 11 decommissioned schools the city plans to put up for sale next year.

Cambridge promotes its deputy city manager to the city’s top job.

Amesbury’s mayor rejects a plan to subsidize the town’s tax rate with free cash.

CASINOS

The state Gaming Commission will consider commercial developers for a casino license in southeastern Massachusetts to guard against the possibility that the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe may be unable to secure the needed permits.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tries tucking legalized online poker into fiscal cliff negotiations. The move would likely affect demand for poker gaming at physical casinos while restricting other forms of Internet gambling.

NATIONAL POLITICS/WASHINGTON

President Obama says the 2 percent must be taxed. Or else.

With House Speaker John Boehner and his GOP colleagues heading to the White House Christmas party, Keller@Large plays the Ghost of Awkward Holiday Parties Past.

Killing two birds with one tax: Could a modest levy on carbon halve the federal deficit?

Princeton economist Alan Blinder makes his pitch for fixing the deficit.

Senate Republicans block adoption of an international treaty on rights for the disabled — despite the fact that it was backed by both former Bush presidents, former Senate Republican leader and disabled World  War II hero Bob Dole, who appeared in the chamber in a wheelchair at age 89 to urge its passage, and Arizona Republican and ex-POW John McCain.

ELECTIONS

In his first extended interview since the election, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson vows to double the $100 million he spent in this election cycle. The Dorchester native tells the Wall Street Journal Republicans should relent on their opposition to abortion, stem cell research, and the Dream Act; he also comes out in favor of socialized health care.

The stars, er, polls begin to align for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Citigroup plans to cut 11,000 jobs.

EDUCATION

Globe columnist Scot Lehigh says the answer to expanding the school day is removing the cap on charter schools, where longer days are the norm. The Lowell Sun, in an editorial, says paying for longer school days is not the answer. The paper says using the existing school day more wisely is the way to go.

HEALTH CARE

Eastern Massachusetts had the highest number of emergency room visits in connection with illegal drugs of any metropolitan region in the country last year, WBUR reports.

The Weekly Standard looks at the impending chaos of the federal government setting up health insurance exchanges mandated by Obamacare in states where Republican governors are refusing to join.

TRANSPORTATION

USA Today reports on the rise of dynamic pricing traffic lanes, where tolls increase as traffic increases.

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Hasta la vista, climate change? Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes a “global warming crusader.”

US oil output nears 15 year high, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Construction on a long-awaited walkway along a hurricane barrier on New Bedford Harbor could begin next spring after the state announced funding for the project.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE

A Milton investment advisor and coin broker who pled guilty last week in federal court to scamming clients, including his church, out of more than $8 million to finance a lavish lifestyle has been barred by the SEC from working in the securities industry.

Somerville gangster Howie Winter passes up the chance to endorse Whitey Bulger’s claim of blanket immunity from the FBI and US attorney’s office. Winter went to prison in a horse race-fixing case that Bulger skated on, and now points to as proof of his alleged immunity.

MEDIA

Dan Kennedy aggregates coverage of the longtime Cape Cod Times reporter fired for fabricating sources in stories going back to at least 1998 and says the unfolding scandal is on par with other higher profile offenders like Mike Barnicle and Jayson Blair.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer tells the local newspaper guild that it plans to cut a third of its staff, Poynter reports.

Fox News puts Karl Rove on the bench, New York magazine reports.

The New York Post takes heat for running a front-page photo of a man about to die as a subway train bears down on him.