Friends of fraud

Krugman on how and why Republicans are planning to filibuster the appointment of the head of the Consumer Protection Bureau in order to keep it from operating at all:

So the consumer protection bureau serves a vital function. But as I said, Senate Republicans are trying to kill it.

How can they do that, when the reform is already law and Democrats hold a Senate majority? Here as elsewhere, they’re turning to extortion — threatening to filibuster the appointment of Richard Cordray, the bureau’s acting head, and thereby leave the bureau unable to function. Mr. Cordray, whose work has drawn praise even from the bankers, is clearly not the issue. Instead, it’s an open attempt to use raw obstructionism to overturn the law.

What Republicans are demanding, basically, is that the protection bureau lose its independence. They want its actions subjected to a veto by other, bank-centered financial regulators, ensuring that consumers will once again be neglected, and they also want to take away its guaranteed funding, opening it to interest-group pressure. These changes would make the agency more or less worthless — but that, of course, is the point.

How can the G.O.P. be so determined to make America safe for financial fraud, with the 2008 crisis still so fresh in our memory? In part it’s because Republicans are deep in denial about what actually happened to our financial system and economy. On the right, it’s now complete orthodoxy that do-gooder liberals, especially former Representative Barney Frank, somehow caused the financial disaster by forcing helpless bankers to lend to Those People.

In reality, this is a nonsense story that has been extensively refuted; I’ve always been struck in particular by the notion that a Congressional Democrat, holding office at a time when Republicans ruled the House with an iron first, somehow had the mystical power to distort our whole banking system. But it’s a story conservatives much prefer to the awkward reality that their faith in the perfection of free markets was proved false.

And as always, you should follow the money. Historically, the financial sector has given a lot of money to both parties, with only a modest Republican lean. In the last election, however, it went all in for Republicans, giving them more than twice as much as it gave to Democrats (and favoring Mitt Romney over the president almost three to one). All this money wasn’t enough to buy an election — but it was, arguably, enough to buy a major political party.

Right now, all the media focus is on the obvious hot issues — immigration, guns, the sequester, and so on. But let’s try not to let this one fall through the cracks: just four years after runaway bankers brought the world economy to its knees, Senate Republicans are using every means at their disposal, violating all the usual norms of politics in the process, in an attempt to give the bankers a chance to do it all over again.

5 Responses to Friends of fraud

  1. imhotep February 4, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Hopefully everyone knows by now that Hillary spent her 4 years at State improving the business climate in foreign countries for her pals in the 1%? She acted like the Secretary of Commerce on steriods. That will be her legacy. Even though her job was to find some solution to the Palestine/Israel problem. Which she didn’t do. Or to create an atmosphere so that the U.S. could have better relations with Russia, China, Iran, etc. Which she didn’t do. Hillary spent her time in the “perfection of free markets” overseas. Wall Street loves Hillary. The banks love Hillary. The Republicans love Hillary. The coporatist press loves Hillary. Meaning “we the people” are screwed.

  2. russ February 4, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Let me see – Republicans are planning to filibuster the appointment of the head of the Consumer Protection Bureau so that it does not function.

    Ah, but wasn’t that problem supposed to have been remedied? Or at least, wouldn’t the filibuster have to be conducted the old fashioned way, such that Senators would actually have to explain their objections on the floor of the Senate so that people could actually have a chance to judge the merits of those arguments?

    What’s that? All they have to do is continue to have Mitch McConnell slip a note to Harry Reid that says “Stick ’em up, this is a filibuster. Neener, neener, neener.”?

    Thanks, Harry. Heckuva job.

  3. jawbone February 4, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    Well, Harry Reid has never stood strong for anything liberal or actually progressive, at least anything new. And he folded on filibuster “reform,” which was actually a return to what it used to be before pols were told all they had to do was whisper they might filibuster. Correction: Only R’s got that assiduously soft touch; Dems, at least any actual Dems*, would just be ignored by Ol’ Harry and the vote would be taken anyway. Dems had to actually speak on the floor and wait for their fellow party members to vote with the R’s against them.

    So, Harry gave the Republicans the way to obstruct yet again this session, as much as they want to.

    Is anyone surprised the R’s are using what power they can? they got to keep their filibuster, so it’s what they do — and, most often, what Dems don’t do with power: USE IT. And R’s use it ruthlessly, then take more and dare the Dems to try to contrain them. Then they take even more.

    As has been said elsewhere, Dems pretend to support what the public wants, then they just play games to let their Corporatist bosses get what they want while trying to preserve “plausible deniability” for being responsible for screwing their voters.


    *Or did even Dems from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party just speak bravely of filibuster to us the voters but acquiesce quietly to Ol’ Harry and the R’s??

  4. jawbone February 4, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Also, Prof. Krugman, it seems to me that Big Money –Wall Street, Big Corporations, etc.– has bought itself BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES.

    And paid to get Obama in office for their own protection.

  5. Ron February 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    I find it depressing and a real sign of the depths to which we’ve sunk as a nation that carrying on the day-to-day business of governing the country is seen as lefty, liberal idea.

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