May 24, 2011
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Editor's note: During an unusually contentious hearing on the Hill Tuesday, Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina, lashed out at Elizabeth Warren, the fierce consumer advocate tapped to head the Financial Consumer Protection Bureau, browbeating her and falsely accusing her of "lying." Three of the top five industries to contribute to McHenry's campaign are commercial banks, insurers and accounting firms, so his opposition should come as little surprise, but the unusually aggressive grilling caught observers by surprise. T he New York Times called it a "rare collapse of the decorum that usually pervades discussions among even the most fervent opponents on Capitol Hill." What is it
about Warren that has Republicans so hot?
"Money doesn't talk," sang Bob Dylan, "it swears." Rep. Patrick McHenry gave the week's most famous 70-year-old a dark birthday gift on Tuesday by proving that those lyrics still ring true after nearly half a century.
McHenry's savage attack on Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was an obscenity by any definition except the FCC's, an assault on human decency proving once again that Wall Street's Capitol Hill goon squad is prepared to discard decency at a moment's notice to serve its masters.
One of the best ways to understand events like today's hearing is by looking at the actors involved. Today's case study is Patrick McHenry, Republican from North Carolina. He may have disgraced himself before the voters today, but look on the bright side: Rep. McHenry is now Wall Street's "Employee of the Month."
McHenry, like other Republicans before him, is just the latest symbol of a party that's stopped pretending its actions are motivated by anything except a desire to serve Wall Street and other large corporate interests.
Meet Rep. McHenry
I'll say this for Patrick McHenry: he knows who pays his bills. His top campaign contributor in the last election was Wells Fargo Bank, which paid a large settlement after it was found to have repeatedly laundered money for the drug cartels that have killed more than 35,000 people in Mexico.
Other top contributors include Bank of America, the American Bankers Association, and PriceWaterhouseCoopers, the morally compromised accounting firm that overlooked financial misdeeds at AIG and Goldman Sachs, among others. (It also looked the other way as Goldman shafted AIG -- while both companies were clients.)
The top industries contributing to McHenry's reelection include real estate, insurance, commercial banking, and accounting. Fifty-four percent of his campaign contributions came from PACs, and 40 percent came from large individual donors. A man of the people, he ain't.
Lies and the lying liars who lie about lies
It was ironic that McHenry chose to attack Warren's integrity by claiming she was lying, of all things, since the attack on CFPB has been nothing but a series of lies. McHenry's statement on Tuesday promoted the GOP's biggest Big Lie, that CFPB has unrestrained and excessive executive power. Actually the opposite is true: GOP cynics and complicit Wall Street Democrats worked to weaken the agency so much that it now has the bare minimum authority it needs to function, and it should be strengthened in years to come.
Tuesday McHenry and other members of the GOP Goon Squad claimed that Warren lied about the advice she gave to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and state attorneys general regarding the widespread foreclosure fraud conducted by McHenry's paymasters. A quick review of the record reveals she did no such thing. It also shows that the Goon Squad was just as thuggish in March as it is now. Back then they suggested it was somehow improper for Warren to advise the president, his Cabinet, and anyone else they directed her to advise. As special assistant to the president, that was her job.