Thursday, January 5, 2012

GOP Obstructionists Brought This on Themselves

There's nothing that a real American loves better than a fighter. A guy who will stand up for what's right, and devil take the hindmost. This applies in the realm of politics as much as on the field of battle. In this sense, all those who are left of center on the political spectrum have welcomed President Barack Obama's recess appointments because they mark a development of spine in concert with appreciation of political reality - which is that the Republicans aren't interested in making common cause with him. They want to get rid of him!

After the grand bargain to reduce the deficit collapse, in the wake of the debt ceiling fiasco, Obama finally realized these guys aren't invested in anything he wants or proposes, never mind the GOP often proposed it before. For example, Obama's Affordable Health Care Act was originally floated in basically the same form by the conservative American Heritage Foundation in 1994, after the collapse of the Clinton Health Plan. It provided then Republicans something to run with, but now they disavow it and want it killed because Obama supports it!

Now, barely 3 years after his signature election, and after GOP blocking of nearly all of his major nominess for whatever position, Obama has had enough. In his most recent move, he named the nation's primary consumer watchdog on his own, provoking Republican threats of "a constitutional showdown in the courts." Hey, bring it on, Reepos!

Setting a fierce tone in the election-year fight for middle-class voters, Obama said: "I refuse to take `no' for an answer."

Obama named Richard Cordray, a respected former attorney general of Ohio, to be the first director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, after giving up hope for a confirmation vote in the Senate. The appointment means the agency is able to oversee a vast swath of lending companies and others accused at times of preying on consumers with shady practices.

In political terms, some media outlets have portrayed Obama's move as "unapologetically brazen, the equivalent of a haymaker at Republicans in the Senate who had blocked his nominee". But in more sober and rational terms, Obama simply responded in kind to the fierce opposition and GOP obstructionism which has paralyzed many facets of Obama's administration since he came to office.

In other words, Obama delivered to the Repukes exactly what these obstructionist cowards (who can't prevail any other way) deserved, no more and no less. That they are now whining like stuck pigs over a position that ought to have been filled over a year ago, merely confirms for all to see that they are not a party of the people - but rather of Big Business.

Indeed, the first move of the new appointee, and one long overdue, will be to demand simplified language for credit card and other forms based on critical financial transactions. Currently, the language is so dense and replete with mumbo-jumbo escape and conditional clauses that most Ph.D.s can't make sense out of it. In fact, if the Repugs were truly for the little guys that they claim, they'd applaud such simplification instead of trying to retain it.

Let's also cut the crap here and understand that presidents of both parties long have gotten around a stalled confirmation by naming a nominee to a job when the Senate is on a break through a process known as a recess appointment. Obama simply went a tad further by squeezing in his appointment during a break between rapid Senate sessions this week, an unusual move that the GOP called "an arrogant power grab".

But in truth, it was perfectly legal and the Repukes can cry foul all they want on this, you can be sure their challenge won't hold up in any court - even the Supreme Court. It is indeed the right and prerogative for a president to implement a recess appointment, even during a very brief recess. The length of time does not undermine the executive's power. What the Republicans are really howling about is that Obama actually had the balls to use a power accorded to him, when they'd bet the farm he'd fold once more . For example a "constitutional crisis" ought to have been brought much earlier by Obama, in August last year, instead of caving into the GOP with the debt ceiling increase (and creation of a "supercommittee"). Thus, he ought to have invoked Sec. 4 of Amendment XIV on his own, and invited the fight as opposed to punting.

Well, it turned out the Supercommittee didn't work and now we face $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts. But that's another story. Suffice it to say Obama appears to have learned his lesson this time around in standing his ground against the GOP bullies and defying them to bring it on. It also bodes well that during the coming election campaign he will cease using the generic term "congress" when meting out opprobrium, and will name the Republicans as the obstructing party they are instead. This includes when the next debt ceiling increase comes, at which time I and many others also hope he will not allow the nation to be held hostage and will invoke his executive power to raise the debt ceiling on his own instead. Let Mitch McConnell and the R-fuckers bring it to the Supremes, who cares! This fight has been building since the Re-pigs went after Bill Clinton for an impeachment based on a blow job because they couldn't nail him for Whitewater!

Now it's time to settle it once and for all!

The White House correctly noted that what the Senate was doing - gaveling in and out of session every few days solely to avoid being in recess - was a sham. Indeed it was, since they knew Obama wished a recess appointment. But Obama would not be deterred by a legislative gimmick, even though it was Senate Democrats who began the practice to halt President George W. Bush's appointments. (What else could they do since they were in the minority after 2002, and Bush's appointments amounted to a prade of human nightmares.)

In making his appontment of Cordray Obama stated flatly:

"When Congress refuses to act, and as a result hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as president to do what I can without them."

Consumer groups hailed Obama's decision but as one might expect, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce balked and warned it was so legally shaky that consumer bureau's work may be compromised. Of course,this is palpable horse manure. It isn't legally "shaky" at all, except in the minds of those who would screw consumers.

Meanwhile, the response from Republicans was predictably hyperbolic, as befits an insane party at the extreme margins of the Right (as noted in the recent Economist, Dec. 31, p. 7). Thus Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, proclaimed that Obama had:

"arrogantly circumvented the American people and endangered the nation's systems of checks and balances. "

Meanwhile Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah called it a "very grave decision by this heavy-handed, autocratic White House."

And House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said:

"It's clear the president would rather trample our system of separation of powers than work with Republicans to move the country forward. "

Of course, Hatch and McConnell are preaching to their usual crazy base choir of Tea Party nutsos, so no biggie there. This plays to those guys that like to wear 3-pointed colonial hats, white leg stockings, and carry around old flags signed with 'Don't Tread on Me'. Ho hum! As for Boehner, he's either suffering massive intermittent brain farts, premature Alzheimers or doesn't recall that it was HIS side of House Tea-pee whackos that refused to work together with Mr. Obama, as on the debt ceiling and deficit deal.

The bottom line is, minus all the noise and hum-buzz from the reepie peanut gallery, Obama did the right thing on behalf of consumers and Elizabeth Warren, who made this agency possible, ought to be proud.

If and when the Repups demand Cordray appear for House testimony, he should tell all of his inquisitioners to go blow themselves. Oh, and to call him back when they have something useful to ask ....otherwise let him do his damned job!

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