Sometimes you have to wonder if President Obama has learned his lesson with regard to the GOP. He tries to be the adult; he tries to be reasonable and moderate; but no matter what he does, the GOP will oppose him because the GOP does not accept the legitimacy of a Democratic president – especially a black Democratic president. Therefore, anything a Democratic president does must, as a matter of course, be opposed as being against the better interests of the United States. Which brings us to Elizabeth Warren.
Liberals and Progressives wanted Elizabeth Warren to head the new consumer protection agency. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 (Dodd-Frank Act) and it is finally due to open for business on Thursday. In its own words,
The central mission of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans—whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.
Unfortunately, it will likely be leaderless. Unfortunately, it will not be Elizabeth Warren at its head. Republicans hate her like a vampire hates holy water. Yesterday, in his own words, the President “bowed to the inevitable” and selected somebody less offensive, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.
You can see how this is going to go; the media introduced Cordray as a “bank critic.” It’s not that the term is inaccurate, but words are powerful. Just as the Republicans prefer terms like “abortion” over “women’s reproductive rights” the term “bank critic” has different connotations than say, “consumer champion.” The media’s own biases have never been clearer. Nothing is more certain to rally the Republican base than somebody who attacks banks and bankers.
The problem for Obama is that the Republicans are going to fight over Cordray too. The banking industry is calling him a “regulatory zealot” and is already talking about the threat of “unnecessary oversight” – and “regulatory” and “oversight” are terms with a high-pucker factor in GOP ranks. And after all, an illigitimate Democratic “usurper” selected him, and to make matters worse, Cordray is an ally of Elizabeth Warren (she called him “tough and smart”) and isn’t a lap-dog of the banking industry – in fact, as Reuters reports, he is a “vocal critic.”
Because we all know that the best oversight is given by people friendly to the people you’re supposed to be monitoring, right? That works so well in the oil industry. It worked so well for Deepwater Horizon. It worked so well for Wall Street.
Cordray himself knows this. As the Washington Post reports, Cordray said,
“It offered a possibility to continue to do some of the most important work I felt I was doing as a state attorney general and in many respects, on a better footing, from a better foundation, with better tools, better authority and on a 50-state basis.”
We liberals might have preferred Warren. Many of us signed petitions and wrote letters on her behalf. But we can’t complain about the selection of Cordray. And that makes me wonder why Obama can’t see that from a GOP perspective, Cordray is no more desirable than Warren. There are no shades of gray in the GOP thought-bubble. Surely Obama knows this by now.
Obama said in promoting his new choice that “American families and consumers bore the brunt of the financial crisis and are still struggling in its aftermath to find jobs, stay in their homes, and make ends meet.” Cordray is right for the job because he had “spent his career advocating for middle class families.”
And that’s exactly why the Republicans will oppose him, because nobody hates the middle class more than the GOP and Tea Party. And naturally, the Republicans are already saying that they won’t confirm Cordray unless their demands are met. Where have we heard that before? They don’t want the bureau to have a single head – they want a board so they have the opportunity to protect their banking allies and de-fang the bureau’s mission from the get-go. After all, look what the CFPB is going to be up to (hint: they are all sins against Republican political theology):
- Conduct rule-making, supervision, and enforcement for Federal consumer financial protection laws
- Restrict unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices
- Create a center to take consumer complaints
- Promote financial education
- Research consumer behavior
- Monitor financial markets for new risks to consumers
- Enforce laws that outlaw discrimination and other unfair treatment in consumer finance
McConnell said through lackey John Ashbrook that,”Congress raised concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability, but the Obama administration still hasn’t addressed those concerns.”
But you know if Mitch McConnell is opposed to something that its something we need. The problem for McConnell and his cronies and lackies is that the bureau will not be accountable to them – and through them to the banks. It’s as simple as that.
According to Reuters this may not be the last we hear of Elizabeth Warren, however, as she is being urged to challenge Scott Brown in Massachusetts come 2012. Assuming Obama can wrestle the House into submission, this deal may work out well for the country, having Cordray in the CFPB and Warren in Congress. I can think of worse outcomes.