James Fallows and Steve Benen write about how radical and dangerous the effort behind the Senate Republicans opposition to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray is.
They demonstrate with this segment from Meet the Press of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
So this consumer bureau that they want to pass is under the Federal Reserve. No appropriation oversight, no board. It is something out of the Stalinist era.
The reason Republicans don't want to vote for it is we want a board, not one person, making all the regulatory decisions, and there's no oversight under this person. He gets a check from the Federal Reserve. We want him under the Congress so we can oversee the overseer.
And this on Fox News Sunday from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):
“[W]hat we are saying to the president is: join with us and reform this agency, make it accountable to someone, the people elected the Congress for its funding and for its oversight, and then send up somebody and we’ll be happy to confirm them. There’s nothing wrong with Mr. Cordray personally. This is about an unaccountable, unelected czar. And we’re simply not going to appoint him, or confirm him, or anybody else to this agency that shouldn’t exist in its current form.”
What are both men ignoring? The fact that the CFPB is law. Graham says it particularly blatantly—the "consumer bureau they want to pass"—and McConnell a little less so, with his agency that "shouldn't exist in its current form." The agency does exist, under law, in the form in which the Congress passed it and the president signed it. Changing the form of the agency requires a new law, constitutionally. Instead, Republicans are trying to change it via extortion.
[W]hat Republicans are embracing in this case is, in effect, nullification.
Congress passed a bill that was signed into law by the president. Last week, a Senate minority — not a majority, a minority — decided it simply won’t allow that law that’s already on the books to be executed.
In case this isn’t obvious, the American system of government isn’t supposed to work this way. Indeed, it’s pretty much the antithesis of our constitutional process.
Republicans may not care about this, but you should.
The GOP minority isn’t even questioning Cordray’s qualifications. Rather, Republicans are saying they refuse to allow existing law to function until Democrats meet the GOP’s demands and does Wall Street’s bidding. When the Senate minority is satisfied, they’ll consider allowing the law to function—if they feel like it.
But this is now basically accepted as business as usual, just as every filibuster isn't reported as the extraordinary event it should be, but as simple failure of a bill to pass. Fallows:
This strategy depends absolutely for its success on its not being called what it is: Constitutional radicalism, or nullification. This is an extension of the media normalization of the filibuster, through stories that say a bill has "failed" if it doesn't get 60 votes. And on this program, neither Senate Democratic Majority Leader Dick Durbin nor moderator David Gregory noted the extraordinary claim that Graham had just made, treating it instead as normal election-year positioning.
We've been talking about this basically since the Supreme Court appointed George W. Bush president: a completely radicalized Republican party that doesn't care about governing, doesn't care about the Constitution. It's apparently not polite to talk about the country's dirty little secret, but the opposition party—the party that is in control of the House of Representatives—isn't just bat-shit insane, it's subversive and the tactics they've escalated in the last two years aren't just politics as usual, but dangerous to the basic functioning of this country.
Now, one wouldn't expect David Gregory to actually be able to piece that together for himself, but Sen. Dick Durbin certainly could, and should have called Graham and Gregory out on it. At some point, Democrats are going to have to stop being polite about this, stop acting as if it's business as usual and start screaming bloody murder.