The day after the Iowa caucuses results further scrambled the Republican race, the man they seek to replace, President Obama made some news of his own and sent a message to the GOP with his recess appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head up the newly created consumer protection bureau.
Something along the lines of “stick it where the sun don’t shine.”
The long-delayed start of a new consumer protection bureau took a major step forward Wednesday when the White House defied Congressional Republicans who had been holding out for changes that consumer advocates say would have substantially weakened the agency.
President Barack Obama announced a recess appointment to name Richard Cordray as the nation’s chief consumer watchdog despite strong Republican opposition, bypassing Senate approval.
“I refuse to take `no’ for an answer,” the president said told a cheering crowd in Ohio.
The announcement drew immediate fire from Republicans who have blocked Cordray’s appointment since it was announced in July.
“This is a very grave decision by this heavy-handed, autocratic White House,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. “Circumventing the Senate and tossing out decades of precedent to appoint an unaccountable czar to appease its liberal base is beneath the Office of the President.”
The Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, accused Obama of an unprecedented power grab that “arrogantly circumvented the American people.”
The consumer agency was created after the 2008 financial industry meltdown and championed by consumer advocates lead by Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, who lobbied heavily for an new, independent financial regulator devoted solely to protecting the interests of consumers. But Warren’s forceful attacks on the financial services industry made her appointment to head the new agency politically untenable.
In an effort to remove that political obstacle, Obama in July nominated Cordray, a former Ohio Attorney General, to head the agency. But the nomination has been stalled by Senate Republicans intent subjecting the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to greater oversight by existing regulatory agencies. On Wednesday, the president said the standoff had gone on long enough.
“I’m not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people we were elected to serve,” he said. “The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked (the nomination) is because they don’t agree with the law setting up the consumer watchdog. They want to weaken it. ”
I’ll see the Republicans sputtering about checks and balances and raise with some advise and consent.
The Senate is not supposed to be a rubber stamp for the president, but it’s not supposed to be a roadblock either. Hatch would make it seem as though President Obama has set a new precedent for recess appointments. That’s not remotely connected to reality. Obama has used this power far less than his four predecessors.
Cordray is only Obama’s 29th recess appointment. Bush 43 made 171 appointments. Clinton did 139. Bush 41 made 77 and Reagan a mind-boggling 243 appointments. What was it Hatch saying about “decades of precedent?”
The way the GOP should have played it is if you don’t like the law, change the law. Don’t get pissy and say you’re going to block anyone the president nominates because you don’t think consumers need protection from the same bankers that screwed them over before.
It would be preferable if the president never had to make a recess appointment. It only makes bad relations between the White House and the Hill that much worse. The alternative for the president is to let the Senate obstruct his authority to put his chosen nominees where they are needed in his Administration. I seem to recall how pissed Republicans were when Democrats refused to give Bush’s nominees an up-or-down vote.
The issue never was if Richard Cordray was qualified or not. He was only a hostage in a Washington power game.
This endless tit-for-tat where Congress, regardless of whom is in control, engages in dilatory and obstructionist tactics for purely partisan political purposes is ample evidence how badly the system is broken and must be reformed.
I wish it wasn’t this way. I wish “bipartisan” and “the loyal opposition” were actualities and not just obsolete buzzwords. I doubt the president made the call to do an end run around the Senate casually. But Obama knows the GOP plan is to run out the clock on his presidency.
Better to take the predictable slagging and mouth frothing from the GOP and their hype machine to allow McConnell’s gamesmanship trump the president’s.
The president made some additional recess appointments today as well. I guess he figured he might as well set the tone for 2012 early. It’s not like McConnell was going to give him a damn thing anyway. How much more can he hate Obama?
The Republicans will bluster and threaten apocalyptic consequences. The Democrats will bluster and point to the Republican refusal to act on the president’s nominees.
Politics is a team sport and both sides are playing to win. Good sportsmanship awards are not the goal.
Was it ever?
It’s high time the president dished out some punches instead of constantly taking them looking for a compromise with uncompromising idiots.
I could get used to this
- Republicans furious over Obama recess appointments (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Richard Cordray Recess Appointment Sparks More Bickering (usnews.com)
- Scott Brown Reluctantly Backs Cordray Recess Appointment (thinkprogress.org)