Trying their best to allow bankers to do their worst
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-centred 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 GOP be so determined to make America safe for financial fraud, with the 2008 crisis still so fresh in our memory? In part it is 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 congressman 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.
Follow the money
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 favouring 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.