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What the GOP is doing is blackmail, pure and simple, an attempt to re-fight battles they've already lost. What's next -- abolishing the Supreme Court by refusing to approve judges?
Their behavior becomes even more inexcusable in this case, because the CFPB was weakened considerably as a concession to Sen. Richard Shelby, who then refused to back the bill anyway. Shelby's role in this matter continues to violate one of the Senate's most justly respected traditions: It's dishonorable.
A Just Warren
Elizabeth Warren was an early and forceful fighter for the rights of bank customers. She's the original architect of the concept that became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Her goals are rooted in one of our most fundamental American values: fair play. Banks have been bilking customers in dozens of legal but unfair ways for a long time, using their clout to give people the runaround. Ms. Warren has another American value on her side, too: Common sense and safety. Reckless and dishonest bank behavior caused the last financial crisis, and the kind of oversight Ms. Warren will provide can help put a stop to that.
Republicans have tried to portray Warren as some sort of radical. She's not. She's an Oklahoma-born self-made woman, an old-fashioned American success story, an attorney and longtime Harvard professor who's an expert on contract and commercial law. She saw many of our current problems coming long before others did. What's more, she's been on a little charm offensive that's beginning to win over bankers, especially leaders at the community banks that provide more useful services than their megabank Wall Street competitors.
Even JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has softened his rhetoric and is now saying things like this: "... We fully acknowledge that there were many good reasons that led to the creation of the CFPB and believe that if the CFPB does its job well, the agency will benefit American consumers and the system."
Words like that from Jamie Dimon amount to what reporters used to to call a "Dog Bites Man' story.
Random Ransom Notes
Warren's growing popularity leaves the diehard Republican opposition to the CFPB well outside the political mainstream -- and just a little bit to the right of Absolutely Nuts. There are legitimate conservative arguments, and there are extremist conservative arguments. And then there's absolute gibberish, like this comment from -- who else? -- Sen. Richard Shelby:
"This is about accountability. The bureau, as currently structured, lacks any semblance of the checks and balances inherent in the Constitution."
Because, of course, a presidential appointment that's subject to Congressional approval, for a job leading an agency that's subject to all appropriate oversight... Oh, forget it. All that's important to remember about this statement is that it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. If it were broadcast on television, the captions would read as follows: "My party and I are bottom-feeding for Wall Street campaign cash. I have so little regard for my audience's intelligence that I believe I can say pretty much anything and they'll buy it."
The Republicans' recklessness on government appointments is also reflected in their games-playing over appointments to the Federal Reserve board and other critical position. Now they're using the same pattern of irresponsibility in an attempt to weaken and destroy a popular and urgently-needed agency.
The statement by Shelby and his fellow Senators is a ransom note, pure and simple. Traditionally, kidnappers disguised their identities by creating ransom notes out of cut-up newspapers. Shelby's statement reads like it was made from cut-up newspapers, too -- but without bothering to turn the pieces into coherent sentences.