As a young boy, I didn’t know a Republican from a Democrat, only in one way: If some man or bunch of men rode up to the ranch to sit or stay all night, and my Father set me to watching ’em all the time they was there — what they did and what they carried off — I learned they were Republicans.
WILL ROGERS, Never Met a Man I Didn’t Like
Sometimes, when I peruse the Twitterverse and news sites from around the country, I run across stories that make me ponder the eternal question, why is anyone a Republican who isn’t filthy stinkin’ rich or a lobbiest working for corporations and big business?
Since it’s Superbowl Sunday, I realize that most folks are fixated on the game, the parties, and their numbers in the football pools. I have barely enough time to bang out more than a few good pithy Facebook statuses myself, but late last night I ran across this tidbit from Think Progress entitled, “43 GOP Senators Threaten Obstruction Unless Consumer Protection Bureau is Weakened.” I think it is important to not let this one get away from us even as we are distracted by nachos and wings on this fine Sunday.
Admittedly incensed upon first glance, I continued to read on and see if this was some sort of clever headline meant to inflame all good libbies. I’ve learned to not jump to conclusions based on headlines alone in the age of the interwebs. Very often, they are misleading at best and disingenuous at the worst. On the face of it, there would appear to be no obvious insidious motive behind these 43 GOP Senators threatening to block the nomination of anyone to head the consumer watchdog agency until and unless there were serious reforms undertaken to the structure of the new agency. This from Think Progress:
In a letter sent to President Obama on Friday, 43 Republican senators committed to refusing approval of any nominee to head the consumer watchdog until the bureau underwent significant reform. Lawmakers signing on to the letter included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), the ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee. “The CFPB as created by the deeply flawed Dodd-Frank Act is one of the least accountable in Washington,” said McConnell. “Today’s letter reaffirms a commitment by 43 Senators to fix the poorly thought structure of this agency that has unprecedented reach and control over individual consumer decisions — but an unprecedented lack of oversight and accountability.” […] In particular, Republicans want to see the top of the bureau changed so it is run by a bipartisan, five-member commission, as opposed to a lone director. They also want to see the bureau’s funding fall under the control of congressional appropriators — it currently is funded via a revenue stream directly from the Federal Reserve.
The request could seem fairly innocuous to the average American. The request may even seem reasonable on the face of it. The “buzzwords” like ” lack of oversight and accountability” and the other requests for a “bi-partisan…commission” instead of a single head overseeing the agency hardly strike fear into the hearts of men. They almost seem mundane. But closer scrutiny and understanding of why the agency was set-up in this specific manner is key to understanding exactly why this request is in reality, quite surreptitious.
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency was created by President Obama in the swath of financial destruction that was the 2008 recession. The goal of this agency was to protect the consumers in the financial system, who were decimated after the collapse of the economy due mostly to Wall Street malfeasance, greed, and lack of accountability. The same Wall Street that is protected by Congressman from both sides of the aisle still today. The agency’s charge is to protect you and me from those clever types who go to fancy colleges in order to figure out how to make as much scratch as possible from us financial illiterates or through cloak and dagger tactics. The agency would regulate mortgages, credit cards, car loans, etc. The agency is our cop on the beat protecting us from unscrupulous lending practices.
The area of mortgages was especially destructive to our economy. Since the Federal Reserve was in charge of “regulating” mortgages and failed to stop the subprime lending fiasco that Wall Street helped perpetuate, it was necessary to come up with another way to stop the foxes from guarding the henhouse. Hence, the Dodd-Frank Bill which created the CFPA.
Senator Elizabeth Warren was given the task of setting up the agency (and later rebuffed as its head due to the scaredy-cats in Congress who saw her as too formidable a foe against corporate and Wall Street interests). This agency was really Warren’s idea that the President signed onto and the Republicans were opposed to it, and her, from the get-go. But Warren and the President pushed for this to be included in the financial reform bill.
I mean, imagine that! People in Washington who are actually on the side of us. Imagine people in Washington who want the average American to be able to have understandable contracts written in clear language minus the wittle-bitty text stuck to the bottom of the paper that no one tells you about, which usually spells doom. Imagine people in Washington who will fight for us instead of them. The “them” are the rat bastards that love nothing more than to separate us from our money in the most seemingly undetectable and underhanded ways possible.
So in that spirit, Elizabeth Warren came up with a few “must-haves” for the agency. These from the Huffington Post:
- A chief appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate;
- Independent budget authority, so it won’t be subject to the whims of Congress or an anti-consumer administration;
- Independent rule-making authority, without interference by bank regulators or others who may focus on bank profitability before focusing on consumers;
- And independent enforcement powers, so the agency’s investigators can go after abusive lenders.
Notice the word “independent” and how many times it’s used.
There is a reason for that. A very, very, good reason. Liz Warren knew full well that any agency that is funded by Congress has the power to be rendered functionally inoperable by a “business friendly” Congress by with-holding the purse-strings. She also knew that if the agency was to have any teeth in going after financial abuse it needed to be fully independent and able to operate outside the constrains of lobbying and governmental forces.
The Republicans who sent the letter this week to the POTUS also want to have the agency run by a board of five. Of course they do. This is because they can do exactly what they have done to the National Labor Relations Board to make it impotent.
The obstructionist Republicans have continually blocked the President’s appointments to the NLRB that oversees and protects worker’s rights. This is because the SCOTUS ruled in 2010 in a 5-4 decision that a “quorum” must be present (3 out of 5 members) in order to function.
The do-nothing Congress actually did something alright. They then purposely blocked all the nominations precisely so that the NLRB could not function. In this way, the agency that looks out for us in the workplace will be rendered useless and the business world can continue to run roughshod over the working class.
Ain’t life grand?
So there you have it. A little bit of Congressional chicanory exposed for what it is. McConnell and Crapo and the other 40 Republicans who sent that letter to the President this week don’t really want you to know the truth about their intentions.
The Republicans want another agency that helps the consumer, worker, or middle class over the interests of big business like I want another pound attached to my derriere.
Which leads me back to my original query. Unless you are rich or a corporate entity, why are you a Republican? Because for the life of me I can’t figure out why you haven’t figured out their game by now. Republicans really are all for business at the expense of the consumer. The Republicans really see a cloud in every silver-lining when it comes to helping the poor or middle-class. They never seem to find that dark cloud when it comes to propping up the rich or the corporations.
They sure ain’t looking out for the middle class, are they?
- Senate GOP declares war, again, on CFPB (dailykos.com)
- 43 GOP Senators Threaten Obstruction Unless Consumer Protection Bureau Is Weakened (thinkprogress.org)