Afraid the Agency Might Work, GOP Blocks Confirmation of Consumer Watch Dog

Dec 08 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Republicans, the party of “small government,” have blocked the confirmation of Richard Cordray to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau due to “concerns” over the way the Wall Street watchdog agency would work. Correction, due to the concern that it might work.

Republicans want a board to replace a single director; thereby immersing the agency in the bureaucratic red tape they decry every single day on Fox News. It should be noted that the CFPB already has a board over it, namely the Financial Stability Oversight Council.


Republicans have vowed to filibuster any CFPB nominee Obama sends to the Senate until their demands are met: They’ve specifically called for replacing the agency head with a board of directors, subjecting the bureau to the congressional appropriations process, and allowing more checks on CFPB rules.

“The president knew about these concerns months ago and he chose to dismiss them. And now he’s suddenly making a push to confirm his nominee — because it fits into some picture he wants to paint about who the good guys and the bad guys are in Washington,” Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “So once again Democrats are using the Senate floor this week to stage a little political theater. They’re setting up a vote they know will fail so they can act shocked about it later.

“This is what passes for leadership at the White House right now,” he added.

What Mitch meant to say was that filibustering is what passes for leadership in the Republican Party, and standing up for Wall Street is what passes as small government conservatism. Republicans say that government is the problem and bureaucracy the issue, yet their argument against confirming the director is that they would like a board to replace a single person, thereby slowing down the effectiveness of the agency.

Title X of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act establishes the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. The purpose of Dodd-Frank is, “To promote the financial stability of the United States by improving accountability and transparency in the financial system, to end “too big to fail”, to protect the American taxpayer by ending bailouts, to protect consumers from abusive financial services practices, and for other purposes.”

However, at every turn, Dodd-Frank has been filibustered, watered down, and beaten to death by the protectors of the 1%. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) supports Dodd-Frank because they don’t want stronger regulations put in place, which might suggest that even as it is, Dodd-Frank is not enough. Critics point out that Dodd-Frank does not end “too big to fail.”

And yet Republicans are trying to run the country as if George W Bush were still in office, refusing to admit that if Americans had wanted less regulations post the 2008 crash, they would not have elected Barack Obama as president. We all remember Sarah Palin searching her brain for the regulations that she claimed John McCain had championed to no avail.

Not only do Republicans stand with Wall Street and against the people in not wanting this agency to operate efficiently enough to function properly, but also they are in denial about the direct damage caused by deregulating Wall Street and financial institutions. The deregulation trail implicates both parties, but certainly Republicans more than Democrats simply due to the nature of their platform and their rigid, uncompromising belief that the markets will regulate themselves, in spite of “too big to fail” proof to the contrary.

What the Democrats gave us was not strong enough, but it was a good start. Yet that good start is being parsed bit by bit and made impotent with deliberate precision by the majority of Republicans. They argue that they are “for” regulations (name one, please) but against this specific form of regulations. That is quite simply not true. Republicans have not been pushing for regulations of Wall Street via legislation.

One wonders how Republicans can justify their concerns over whether or not the agency should be headed by a director as being worthy of having no agency, as that is the effect of their filibuster. Their argument, taken in reverse, is that it’s better to let banks and Wall Street proceed as they are, with no oversight, than to have regulations that might be a problem for business. In other words, in order to cater to the 1%, we must keep leaning way over to accommodate them, lest they be “harmed” by regulations.

And yet, the consumers are clearly and with horrifying results being harmed right now, as I type this. People are being foreclosed on through no fault of their own. The American people would like to be treated as at the very least equals to the 1%. This would suggest that the risk of harming the 99% would be taken in equal measure to the risk of harming the 1%. And that would mean that we would get this consumer protection agency helmed immediately.

As Occupy Wall Street takes to occupying foreclosed homes, the Republicans in DC stand firmly on the side of the 1% and against an agency designed to protect consumers (aka: job creators also known as the 99%). Even Dodd-Frank critic David A. Skeel Jr. agreed that the Consumer Protection Agency was a good thing.

Republicans are the pit bulls standing guard of Wall Street, protecting it from the little chihuahuas of the 99% who just want a fair shot at economic opportunity and justice. Republicans can’t make the argument that we don’t need a consumer protection agency, so instead they neuter the agency’s power in every way imaginable while trying to avoid the appearance of doing so.

Image: From the Consumers Union (a non-profit publisher of consumer reports) as seen on the Consumerist. CU took a full page ad out calling for consumer protections in which they wrote, “Credit card rip-offs. Shady mortgages. Confusing fine print. For too long big banks and financial institutions have gone unchecked while average Americans paid the price. Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created to protect consumers and stop deceptive financial practices. But right now some in Congress are teaming up with banking industry lobbyists to weaken the CFPB before it even gets off the ground. America can’t afford for that to happen.”

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