So the Republicans continue to block Rich Cordray
refusing to confirm him to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — not because they don't like Cordray but because they don't like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In fact, they dislike the very idea of consumer protection, apparently feeling that continuing to ratchet up public district in the financial system is somehow good for the country and that blocking people from having the information they need to keep from getting ripped off is somehow fair.
If they believe this (and it's clear they do), then Rich Cordray is certainly their worst nightmare, given his track record as Ohio's attorney general fighting for citizens against the predations of large corporations and financial institutions. The New York Times spotlighted his victories in winning back millions for the state.
The LA Times points out in this editorial entitled "Consumers loses as GOP moves against nominee for new consumer bureau" who really loses in this GOP obstruction.
This CNN opinion piece says:
By forcing the Senate to meet the 60-vote threshold, the GOP effectively prevented Cordray from taking control of the office. By not having a full-time director, the bureau, already approved by Congress and signed into law by Obama, can only do a limited number of things.
That whole thing about the 60-vote threshold is getting on my nerves big-time. They call it a "filibuster," but it's not a filibuster in the traditional sense, where a Senator stayed on the floor day and night reading the phone book to demonstrate how passionately he opposed something. Now if the Republicans just mumble, "We won't support that," it requires 60 votes — and they don't have to do anything.
So Cordray got 53 votes for confirmation while 45 opposed him. In a normal legislative setting, he'd be confirmed. But it seems like the arcane rules of the U.S. Senate are always shifting to benefit the Republicans.
Here's a real travesty: despite the eight-vote margin in favor of confirmation, Cordray remains unconfirmed and the CFPB remains without a head and no ability to function. But in 1991, a clearly unqualified and morally suspect candidate for Supreme Court — Clarence Thomas — was confirmed by the Senate by one of the closest votes ever for a Supreme Court Justice — 52 in favor, 48 opposed. (He has since also turned out to be one of the most corrupt Supreme Court Justices in recent memory, showing no inclination to recuse himself from cases involving a party his wife has lobbied for, providing a significant part of their family income, which he also lied on his federal income tax forms).
What kind of a system do we have when a mere 52 votes can confirm someone to a life-long appointment to one of the most powerful positions in the country — one from which he can't be removed even now when the full scope of his lack of ethics and respect for justice is clear — but it requires 60 votes to confirm someone for a time-limited job heading one of many federal agencies?
It's times like this I wish Democrats played dirtier. Cordray's appointment is a great one, but the Republicans are determined to destroy this legally created agency which would strengthen our economy and improve the financial security of Americans across the board by the legislative equivalent of holding their breaths and turning blue. And they're doing it to benefit their ultra-wealthy masters who bought them into office and in return are demanding the right to mislead and rip off American consumers.
Each new piece of news these days (see my previous post, for instance) seems to confirm the need to diminish or eliminate the role of money in elections.