President Obama made a recess appointment, making Richard Cordray head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and the Republicans in the Congress became up in arms. Democratic supporters of the President came to his defense, as the President said he had to make the appointment because Congress had failed to allow a vote on any Presidential nominee for the position. And Republicans admitted that it was true that they had blocked the vote on, first Elizabeth Warren, and then Cordrayy. So far it was just a typical story of the Reps and the Obama White House being at odds about a high level appointment. It happened before, in the case of Obama’s nomination to head the TSA and other positions.
Congress blocking particular appointments is nothing too new in modern politics. President Reagan felt the need to make about 200 recess appointments to get his conservative appointees in around the objections of the liberal Congress of his day. President Obama has made only about 30. The Reps also claimed that Congress is not really in “recess” under some arcane rules that allows them to technically stay in session if they do something every three days for about two minutes.
But technicalities aside, the real issue in the Cordray appointment is not the Republican objection to the nominee; it is their use of blocking a vote because they don’t like the whole idea of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And in this particular case the agency involved cannot fully function without its director in place. And that’s the whole idea of the Rep’s actions; to keep the agency from being able to do the job it is designed to do; protect consumers from predatory practices of the financial industry.
The refusal of the Reps to act on the Cordray nomination has been dragged out since last June, over six months. The whole dog and pony show of first not voting on Warren and then Cordray, both of whom are unquestionably qualified for the job, then claiming it’s not a real recess, was all done for the Republicans cause of preventing the CFPB from doing the work is was created to do; consumer protection.
The Reps can’t very well argue that they are not in favor of protecting consumers from the many schemes and scams perpetrated on the American public by both banks and non-banking financial companies. That would make it sound as if they were in favor of the financial corporation’s being able to do whatever they wanted, with no government oversight and that they didn’t care whether this resulted in bad things happening to their ordinary American constituents. But that is exactly what the result of their actions has been; no protection for Americans although the Dodd-Frank Bill, which created the CFPB, passed both houses of Congress a while ago.
So the Reps approach to dealing with any laws or government policy that they don’t want to see acted upon is; to throw any and all roads blocks they can in its way. The fact that a majority of the people’s representatives in Washington have made it into the law of the land doesn’t seem to matter to the Reps. They feel it’s okay for their defeated minority opinion to actually be imposed on the American people anyway, in defiance of one of the key principals this nation has long stood for; majority rule.
It’s not as if the rights of the minority, which in this case are the financial conglomerates, are being trampled. Banks and Financial business can still do all the many things and provide all the many services they traditionally have. They just are being watched more closely and will be prevented from doing the unscrupulous and unethical things they have done in the past, which are against the law. For example; the scams of pay-day types of businesses that charge up to a truly usurious 400% can be under the scrutiny of and monitored by a fully functional CFPB, now that its Director is in place.
In fact all of the predatory practices of the financial industry, such as the deceptive derivatives, the worthless mortgage bundles, the doomed credit default swaps, etc, that brought the world’s economy to brink of collapse just three years ago; can now be properly overseen by an independent agency of the Federal government, with an eye towards preventing frauds, scams and bunko schemes from taking advantage of the American people.
The Reps say they are against government intervention, by which they mean regulation of, private industry; because it gets in the way of business doing what they want to do. They are right, and this absolutely the point of government regulation; to get in the way of businesses, in this case the financial industry, from doing whatever they want. Absent the kind of government regulation the CFPB is designed to provide; the recent financial abuses which drained trillions from the American economy and literally ruined the lives and destroyed the retirement opportunities for tens of millions of Americans, could happen again. That’s a very wrong thing for any politician to argue in favor of. If the Reps in Congress desist from their full court press to prevent the Federal government from putting in place the oversight and regulations that can protect and save the savings and retirement funds of hard working, taxpaying Americans; this nation and all the people in it will better off and a lot more financially secure.
President Obama has been criticized by some of his supporters for not fighting hard enough on issues such as eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy or on the payroll tax exemption extension. But I think his strategy has been to avoid a couple of year’s worth of knockdown, drag out, fights with the GOP; some of which he would have lost. He would have spent valuable political capital and lost some anyway because of the Reps do or die commitment to not let Obama have any success; even where it would clearly benefit virtually all Americans. But now that election year has finally come around, Obama can put on (or take off?) the gloves and begin to duke it out over any issues of real significance and value to the citizens of America. The CFPB is such an issue and President Obama has stood up, because the time is right and this is something worth fighting for.