We all know this: Republicans and their banking overlords despise the idea of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If they could tuck a legislative nuclear bomb into a bill to kill it for all eternity, they would. Barring that, they've simply decided they will do their level best to block every effort to actually implement this part of the Dodd-Frank legislation.
But listen to Mitch McConnell blowing smoke about why the Senate blocked Richard Cordray here. Not only is it self-contradictory, but it's definitely revealing. The contradiction comes when McConnell claims the CFPB director is a completely unelected office, another czar. Of course, one has to question how this is a problem when the elected officials (aka the Senate) are responsible for confirmation of Cordray to the office. Under McConnell's logic, the entire cabinet is nothing more than a bunch of unelected czars. Surely he's not advocating for election of agency heads, is he? Surely not.
The nonsense about the agency having unlimited powers and no oversight is also just that. Nonsense. It's just that Congress can't meddle in what the agency does, and that's what has Mr. McConnell's panties in a bunch along with the rest of Senate Republicans. The CFBP is required to report to Congress semiannually, but is not subject to Congressional oversight. There are, however, other regulatory and oversight provisions that are uniquely applied to the CFBP which other bank and financial regulators escape. Again, more smoke, intended to disguise the hunger Republicans have for holding the agency's pursestrings. It was designed that way for a reason, and of course, they hate it.
But here's the key to the whole kerfuffle:
McCONNELL: There's nothing wrong with Mr. Cordray personally. This is about an unaccountable, unelected czar and we're simply not going to appoint him -- confirm him -- or anybody else to this agency that shouldn't exist in its current form.
See? It's not about Cordray. Had Elizabeth Warren been the nominee, they would have been able to make it all about her and never, ever even revealed their true motives. But now we have Richard Cordray, someone who is far less controversial and far more inside the parameters of "acceptability", by McConnell's own admission. Still, they will refuse to confirm him or any other nominee simply because they don't like the way Dodd-Frank kept the agency out from under the thumb of Congress.
Really, I think Chris Wallace should have asked McConnell to hold his breath until he turns blue. That's really what we have going on here. A Republican temper tantrum designed to weaken an agency that exists to serve the 99 percent.
Update: Steve Benen reacted even more strongly than I. He calls McConnell's declaration "radical nullification".
As a matter of legal and institutional principles, Americans haven’t seen tactics like these since the Civil War. It led James Fallows to explain yesterday, “This strategy depends absolutely for its success on its not being called what it is: Constitutional radicalism, or nullification.” Jonathan Cohn made the same point last week, andThomas Mann referenced a “modern-day form of nullification” in July.
Political tactics and schemes come and go, as politicians and parties win and lose. But what Republicans are doing now does real damage to the American system of government. It is, by any meaningful definition, a serious and important political scandal.