In politics it is often difficult to pinpoint one specific incident that gives the public an accurate portrayal of a party’s agenda because it may take several actions over the course of weeks, and maybe months, to give a comprehensive vision of the true sentiments that drive policies. Over the past three years, Americans have witnessed Republican obstruction in the guise of fiscal responsibility and anti-big government rhetoric that benefited the wealthy, corporations, and Wall Street. The main reason Republicans give to justify their obstructionism is that they are preventing the president and Democrats from killing jobs, increasing the nation’s debt, and steering the country toward Socialism. However, although Republican rationalization for obstructing Obama Administration policies since January 2009 is untrue and unreasonable, they have taken advantage of tea party rage at an African American in the Oval Office to obstruct implementation of legally passed laws because they protect the American people.
This week’s recess appointments engendered outrage and accusations of a power grab from Republicans who successfully blocked implementation of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed 18 months ago. The Republicans are also outraged that the president appointed three members to the NLRB that is tasked with protecting workers. President Obama has, in one recess appointment, laid bare the Republicans’ true motivations for obstructing labor protections and financial reforms meant to protect consumers and America’s economy. The Republicans who are screaming foul are not upset over the President’s choice to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) established as part of financial regulatory reforms, they are furious that now, with the law’s implementation, Wall Street and the banking industry will finally face accountability. Republicans promised to repeal the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, and in lieu of repeal, they successfully blocked implementation by refusing to confirm a director to lead the agency.
Republicans immediately accused President Obama of an unconstitutional power grab and although it plays well with hardline conservatives, the truth is there was nothing remotely unconstitutional about the recess appointments. The outrage is hypocritical of Republicans because they never objected that their man-turned-god, Ronald Reagan, made 240 recess appointments and George W. Bush made 171 according to the Congressional Research Service. President Obama has made 28 recess appointments during his first term in office. If, as Republicans claim, President Obama is making a power grab, then Bush and Reagan were absolute dictators flaunting unconstitutional authority. However, the president’s appointments did more than expose Republicans as hypocrites; he exposed their favoritism for corporate banking at the expense of consumers and the economy.
The CFPB can finally fulfill its function as a watchdog to stop fraudulent practices of mortgage companies, payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial interests that are sucking the economic life out of Americans and jeopardizing a stable economy. A fully-functioning CFPB will protect nearly every citizen in the country from unfair bank charges, credit card interest increases and fees, and mortgage fraud that led to the economic meltdown and Great Recession the nation, and indeed the world, still suffers from. The financial reforms Democrats passed protect 99% of Americans and one would imagine that even teabaggers rejoiced that banks will not be allowed to tank the economy and then demand taxpayer bailouts that is certain to occur without regulations to stop them. In May, Senate Republicans promised to block any CFPB nominee, until key changes are made at the agency. The changes Republicans demanded effectively eliminate the agency’s oversight and power to regulate. The Republican Party hates regulations as a matter-of-course, but they revile regulations that prevent banking interests and Wall Street from raping the American economy. That is the real reason Republicans are furious with President Obama’s recess appointments and it has nothing to do with the Constitution, jobs, or any number of Republican’s fear mongering talking points. In fact, the financial regulations help banks avoid taking risks like they did with derivatives that sent the economy into a tailspin. Republicans will have a difficult time convincing mainstream America that people are better off if Wall Street and big banks are allowed to take risks with Americans’ money, raise credit card interest rates without cause, or give mortgage loans to people who can never pay them back.
The President also exposed the GOP’s anti-labor agenda by filling three vacancies on the NLRB, the agency tasked with enforcing labor laws. The board lost its quorum this week when a board member’s term ended. The outrage from Republicans is due to their view that labor laws are unconstitutional, anti-business and protect American workers . It is important to note Republicans have, in the past year, claimed the minimum wage, collective bargaining, and child labor laws are unconstitutional and should be abolished. With the NLRB appointments and Republican’s irate responses, President Obama firmly established that Republicans are against American workers and in the employ of big business.
President Obama, more than anything, has signaled to Americans that he is not going to allow the 1% to continue their unfair practices without repercussions and accountability to the people. Republicans, with their fury and outrage that 99% of Americans are protected from Wall Street, big business and corporate banks, have signaled to the country that they are willing to go to any lengths to protect the wealthiest 1% of Americans. The financial reform law was signed in July 2010 and, like other Obama legislative achievements, has faced obstruction from Republicans who, in lieu of repeal, prevented implementation by obstructing a director’s confirmation.
If the Occupy movement needed proof that Republicans support the 1% over the rest of the population, or that President Obama is committed to making government work for the 99%, then this one incident should alleviate any lingering doubts as to which side of the Occupy movement Obama is on. Republicans risk isolating themselves from 99% of the population in an election year and yet they do not care. Their entire focus is obstructing and repealing legislation that protects 99% of Americans and this is the great lesson from President Obama’s recess appointments. It is true that Republican outrage demonstrates the height of hypocrisy, Wall Street and corporate banking protection, and anti-worker agenda, but it speaks more to Republicans’ intent on making government ineffective and therefore useless.
Many pundits opine that President Obama’s recess appointments are bold, but since his first day in office, the president has fought for the American people. The President did not make the appointments for political expediency, but to help the American people and that may well be the biggest insult to Republicans. After all, they spent 11 years hurting Americans economically with banking deregulation, and promise to damage the 99% more by eliminating the minimum wage, child labor laws, and collective bargaining arrangements. President Obama, in one set of recess appointments, has obstructed Republicans’ plans to damage Americans and exposed them as enemies of the people during an election year. President Obama has given Americans an accurate portrayal of the Republican Party’s personality at the same time he provided 99% of Americans with consumer and workplace protections. With Americans getting so much protection from a couple of recess appointments, it is no wonder Republicans are livid.