If you’re a government agency that has raised the right-wing hackles of media propagandist George Will, you know you’re doing something right. A recent Will column burnished by a picture of the 71-year-old Septuagenarian that looked like it came from his high school yearbook, blamed the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for everything from overpaying its employees to the President creating lifelong welfare ‘Kings’ and ‘Queens’.
I’m thrilled that Will has picked up his symbolic Quill Pen in anger over CFPB’s consumer-friendly activities and the President.
The CFPB is the brainchild of U.S. Senator elect, Elizabeth Warren, the perennial moral tormentor of the greedy financial barons. Harvard Law Professor Warren earned her populist bones as the appointed (by Harry Reid) Chairperson of a five-member Congressional Oversight Panel to track the inevitable mischief borne of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). This $700 billion (a number later lowered to $431 Billion) gift to the monster banks covered the losses suffered by pure crooked behavior by said banks and other related institutions. Potential Warren targets scattered like rats at a cat show, knowing their lobbyists and targeted political contributions would protect them.
The President anointed Warren to set up and initially run CFPB. She proceeded to spearhead a 50-state movement to force Mortgage lenders to settle for their role in improper foreclosure procedures. This was not popular with the bought and paid for right-wing legislators. Protecting Consumers BAD! Elizabeth Warren BAD! Elizabeth must go and go she did after about a year of yeoman service. Obama chose the brilliant Ohio Attorney General, Rich Cordray to fill the position via recess appointment. I’m sure the greedniks applauded mightily. Some unknown Ohio hick. Let’s get our stadium full of lobbyists right on it.
Do your research oh naïve greedniks. Cordray was a Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude grad of Michigan State. He gained first class honors in Economics at Oxford and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School with honors as well. Like Obama, he edited the Law Review and played a mean game of hoops. And get this; he interned for John Glenn, clerked for Robert Bork and Supreme Court Justices White and Kennedy. And you thought Obama was bi-partisan.
One thing is for certain; you won’t fool or intimidate Rich Cordray. In Ohio, he recouped more than $2 billion for consumers, small businesses and investors. Full disclosure. One of his ‘right-hand’ men, Ben Konop, is a friend of mine. I worked closely with Ben during his 2004 race against the extraordinarily sleazy Representative Mike Oxley in Ohio’s 4th Congressional District. Ben, 29 at the time, lost, even after humbling Oxley in their debate. Despite the defeat he definitely established himself as someone to keep an eye on. He will be in Congress some day. Remember Cordray as well. Potential AG or Veep material or, in the alternative, dare I suggest President?
Needless to say, Will doesn’t much like Warren’s post-TARP brainchild. The 30-year ABC-TV network panel-panhandler (‘This Week’) whose poison-pen scribblings are syndicated to 450 newspapers, easily rakes in millions a year while his wife Mari has cozied up in a government and political capacity to such right-wing luminaries as Reagan, Michele Bachmann and most recently as an adviser to Rick Perry. Another million annually in some U.S. or foreign bank I would guess. Will’s multi-million dollar historic residence on Grafton St. in Chevy Chase (median household income, $205,776) is a real showplace. Even Barack visited there a week before his first inauguration to woo four conservative syndicated print-glitterati to obviously no avail. If you don’t believe me, read just about any column by Brooks, Kristol, Krauthammer and, of course, Will.
So Will and his 2nd Mrs. are sort of wallowing in greenbacks, but he doesn’t want any CFPB hires to make even a fraction of what he pulls in. He whines like somebody who had just hit their thumb with a hammer, in learning that 60% of the agency employees were making 100 grand; 5%, $200K or ‘gasp’ MORE!!! That’s out of a $130 million budget. There are 958 employees. Since Will didn’t break down the average, I will. Employees would average $31,352 if every last budgetary cent went to workers. The current private-sector CEO vacuums up 231 times more pay than the average worker. So for Will’s point to mean squat, the agency brass would be averaging upwards of $724,312. Didn’t see a word about that disparity in the Will column.
Will also writes of his concerns that the agency will be given too much autonomy as legislation “delegates effectively unbounded power to the CFPB and couples that power with provisions insulating CFPB against meaningful checks” Oh, you mean something like the legislation employer immunity from lawsuits filed by former workers who have been screwed by ‘the Man’. Is that what you mean? CFPB better be insulated. Otherwise the power boys will freeze it in place. Right-wingers get real ‘constitutional’ when it serves their purpose. When it doesn’t, it’s, constitution? What constitution?
Cordray is already feared and despised by the usual suspects. Congressional Republicans, who in opposing the new Director, forced the recess appointment, the American Bankers Association (and every other banker’s association) and, needless to say, the Chamber of Commerce, a group that fights each and every attempt at inserting ethics and regulations in place for the public weal. Enemies like those just listed make me all the more comfortable with the charge of CFPB. In short, protect the consumer. Prevent the big banks from ripping you off with the tiniest of tiny print. Put the Palomar Telescope to every one of their hidden fees and sneaky interest formulas. A pathetic number of banks left their morals and ethics at the door during the Housing crisis. Credit cards are another source of concern for decent people.
We not only need CFPB – in today’s era of Romneyesque fiscal gluttony, such an agency is an imperative to adequately protect the little guy and gal.
Will also attacks Obama for supposedly allowing states to waive the work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform law. Here, in fact, is what HHS allows the states to do on their own. HHS will waive some federal ‘work requirements’ so the states can put their own strategies and policies in place to improve employment outcomes for needy families. No matter how much right-wing (and Will) BS you hear and read, that’s the sum and substance of the issue. And PULEEZE show me a single state that has “waived” a work requirement if and when such work is available. While states must meet certain criteria in work placement, the real scandal here is what states are doing with the federal money. If Will wants to really investigate the issue, he should start with his red state base.
I should add that according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 90% of TANF benefits go the elderly, disabled and working households.
Looking forward to your response George.