Here is how Market Watch characterizes the president’s announcement earlier today that he will bypass Congress and name Richard Cordray as the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau:
Obama Finally Picks his Fight with the Republicans
Remove the “finally” and that is about the size of it.
Anna has done a terrific post on whether this "recess" appointment can really be made. But I want to concentrate on a few more angles of this arrogant act.
This president will use this appointment of a man previously rejected by Republicans to run the agency that is the brainchild of Massachusetts senatorial aspirant and sometime Occupy admirer Elizabeth Warren to portray himself as a protector of the middle class, his new BFF. Throw in a dollop of “do nothing Congress” just for good measure and you can see just how political this is.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created by the Dodd-Frank Act. Many Republicans worry that it will only clog the financial system with more regulations that do nothing to help consumers. They would like some changes made. As for Cordray, the White House previously mounted a PR campaign to get him confirmed. No dice, as the Wall Street Journal observed:
But all the good PR in the world can't hide the fact that Ohio voters themselves haven't been very impressed with Mr. Cordray, who has lost as many elections as he has won. He rode the Obama wave to the AG's office in a special election in 2008, only to lose in 2010. In the intervening years, he developed a reputation as an activist AG, filing national lawsuits against ratings agencies, banks, airlines and more. He has publicly declared interest in running for governor of Ohio, which makes him a politicized candidate to head the CFPB, a supposedly non-partisan regulatory agency.
The White House blog says that in making this appointment the president is acting "on behalf of millions of families across the nation to ensure they’re not being taken advantage of by debt collectors and credit reporting agencies.” Here’s a little tip: if you pay your bills, the collection agencies won’t bug you. If the credit reporting agency has made a mistake, you can clear it up without Mr. Cordray's help.
The screed goes on to use language directly lifted from the president’s pugnacious Osawatomie speech:
Now, you might hear some folks across the aisle criticize this “recess appointment.” It’s probably the same folks who don’t think we need a tough consumer watchdog in the first place. Those critics might tell you that Wall Street should write their own rules. Or you might hear them say the American people are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves. Again, we disagree with those critics.
Republicans believe in a free-market and they do not want a lawless Wall Street in which everybody makes up the rules any more than Democrats. This is a blatantly political statement of a White House that is campaigning rather than governing. As for the "tough consumer watchdog," it will likely generate endless red tape that slows job creation.
I wrote a piece earlier this week on the president’s campaign to present himself as the champion of the middle class. But the truth is that, no matter what his rhetoric is, his policies have harmed the middle class. The key to getting into or remaining part of the middle class is employment. One of the reasons unemployment is high is excessive regulation. Very likely the CFPB–yet another regulatory agency–will kills jobs.
Okay, that said, Anna is right: the GOP might consider skipping this fight. Anna pegged it:
Any attempts to stop this action using means that are beyond Congressional Republicans’ control (i.e. lawsuits, impeachment proceedings, etc) will simply play into the hands of Obama, who is dying to run against a Republican congress in 2012.
This is going to be a revolting year,