Evidently Elizabeth Warren gets under Rep. Patrick McHenry's skin in a big way. Maybe it's the forthright way she asks questions. Or perhaps it's her ability to be tough and female at the same time. Whatever it is, he stepped way over the line today when he called her a liar for not waiting around to testify for absent Republicans.
Ms. Warren appeared for her hourlong testimony as she had previously agreed to, but 2 Republican committee members were strangely absent. Perhaps they were courting their Wall Street friends, or visiting the House floor to vote on another job-killing bogus repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Whatever it was, Warren had other places to be, and Rep. McHenry did not like that one bit.
So he called her a liar. On the record. On television. The backlash has been swift and direct. Some samples from his Facebook page:
Absolutely uncivil, unbecoming behavior on your part to call Elizabeth Warren a liar. Not surprising, however, coming from someone who serves alcohol to minors, not to mention things far worse. To hope for your resignation would be far too much, but you should apologize at the very outside.
How much does a Wells Fargo prostitute get paid these days?
Disgusting performance with Elizabeth Warren. You should be ashamed of yourself. It makes me sick when the bought accuse the honorable.
New Rule: When you have lost your credibility, your ammo, the argument, indeed the entire battle, don't even think of calling the victor,l a Harvard professor who is building a much needed consumer protection agency, a LIAR. You Fools on the Hill are losing your minds..
And get this: This wasn't the first time yesterday McHenry had called Warren a liar. Earlier in the day, he had gone on CNBC's Squawk Box with Becky Quick and had accused Warren of lying about the nature of her advice to the consumer-protection agency:
QUICK: You think she was less than accurate in some of the testimony that she gave earlier.
Why don't you explain that to us?
MCHENRY: First of all, she's testified multiple times that in terms of the mortgage settlement, she was simply an adviser. She was giving advice. Well, now it's clear and it's been publicly released that they put together a PowerPoint presentation on the terms of the settlement. Now, in terms of advice, it seems the result was that it's the explicit outline of the settlement agreement that we're hearing about in the press. I question the veracity of her former testimony in relation to the reality that we now see in terms of the release of this PowerPoint presentation with the terms of the settlement.
QUICK: You think she was lying when she testified she was only an adviser because there's a PowerPoint settlement that has the terms of some of these agreements?
MCHENRY: I think, well, first of all, if it's advice, that's one thing. But when the terms of the settlement meet the exact expectations of Elizabeth Warren's PowerPoint presentation, I think that raises a great deal of questions. She insists on simply being an adviser to the president and the Treasury Secretary. It seems as though she and her agency have been acting beyond the scope and power they've been given.
QUICK: You think they've been dictating the terms?
MCHENRY: It appears that that is the case. I'd like to hear her testimony today if that's not the case.
McHenry also repeated these charges during the committee hearing -- and Warren readily refuted his charges, as well as the menu of other accusations against her veracity that he raised in this clip. Most of these were raised by his fellow Republicans, and were similarly knocked down as strawmen.
Indeed, as Michael McAuliff at HuffPo reports, the hearing was remarkable for the utter ignorance and estrangement from the facts Warren's Republican critics were:
Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) betrayed the first misunderstanding, quizzing Warren on why people getting hired at the CFPB earned better salaries than the average government employee. Warren eventually noted that federal financial regulators are usually paid better (but not very well compared to the people they regulate).
Rep. Frank Guinta (R-N.H.) mistakenly thought the CFPB was unique among financial regulators in having a leader with a five-year term and in not being subject to annual congressional appropriations -- neither of which is true.
"I don't believe anyone else in history has had that period of time as an appointment," Guinta contended of the five-year term.
"Congressman, I think many terms are five-year terms," Warren answered, pointing out that the head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had just finished such a term.
Guinta then suggested that the agencies Warren compared to the CFPB actually had more oversight from Congress through annual appropriations.
"Those entities I think are at the discretion of Congress," Guinta argued. "There's an oversight process through appropriations -- you're excluded from that."
"No, Congressman, I'm sorry," Warren answered. "There is no banking regulator who is subject to the political process or to appropriations." Banking regulators, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the National Credit Union Administration, the Office of Thrift Supervision and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, take fees from financial institutions for their budgets.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) grilled Warren on whether the bureau would make public the complaints it gets. She answered that the complaint issue was a work in progress, but that at the very least, there was progress in creating a system for large credit card companies.
"Are any of the complaints public?" Gowdy demanded.
"Congressman, we don't have any complaints yet," Warren said of the still-nascent agency. "What we're trying to do is build the system."
Gowdy also seemed to think that Warren had written the Dodd-Frank law, and he was determined to know what Warren meant by defining "abusive" practices as something that "materially interferes" with the ability of a consumer to understand a term or a condition.
"That suggests to me that some interferences are immaterial. Is that what you meant by that?" he asked a momentarily perplexed-looking Warren.
"Congressman, I believe the language you are quoting is out of the Dodd-Frank act," she said. "This is the language that Congress has adopted."
The backlash is just beginning. These right-wing whackos overreach at every turn, from Medicare to the pathetic efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to telling constituents to just suck it up and take care of themselves. They feel so empowered by their corporate masters that they run headlong into the headlights of the oncoming train about to run them down in 2012.
I, for one, cannot wait to see this guy exiled to North Carolina on a permanent basis without fulfilling his dream of putting Reagan's face on a $50 bill. And lest we forget, there's also the small matter of his staffer committing voter fraud. Betcha he never called that guy a liar.