Sunday, May 15, 2011

Senate Republicans Vow to Gut Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Senate Republicans Vow to Gut Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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Boy, are Republicans committed to Americans getting screwed by the financial sector, or what? One of the major sources of evil in their world appears to be the idea that regular Americans deserve a degree of consumer protection. They're practically allergic to it.

Forty four of . . . 47 [Senate Republicans] have signed on to a letter threatening to filibuster any nominee to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau unless it is dramatically weakened.

"We will not support the consideration of any nominee, regardless of party affiliation, to be the CFPB director until the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is reformed," reads a letter, co-authored by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of the Banking Committee....

Specifically, Republicans want the CFPB subject to the appropriations process—something it avoids as an entity housed in the Federal Reserve. They also want to delegate more decision making authority away from the Bureau's director, and give other regulators—many of which are captured by the financial industry—opportunities to block CFPB rules.

This shouldn't be a winning fight, if Democrats don't want it to be. The financial reform law is still fairly popular, and the CFPB is the most popular part of it. President Obama could use recess appointment to fill the vacancy, and take the fight public. At this point it's a question of how he and Senate Democrats decide to handle it.

This is absolutely a smart fight for Democrats. The CFPB is popular for a very good reason: it might give regular people half a chance to protect their own financial interests, something we've desperately needed. It's standing up against Wall Street and against the big banks and credit card companies for us. That's something voters tend to care about, and like.

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