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GOP shows it doesn't care about U.S. consumers

Republicans, led by Richard Shelby, of Alabama, blocked confirmation of Obama's pick for consumer financial protection chief

Story highlights

  • GOP blocks President Obama's nominee to head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
  • Roland Martin: Doing so showed disregard for Americans who lost $2 trillion in retirement funds
  • Richard Cordray, former attorney general of Ohio, was picked to head the bureau
  • Without him, it can oversee bank regulations but not payday lenders or mortgage servicers

Sometimes it's right to just turn off the television out of fear of seeing something that will drive your blood pressure to unacceptable levels.

No, I'm not talking about the trashy "Basketball Wives", any of the "Real Housewives" shows or watching Donald "Chump" Trump play the media like a fiddle with his latest bombastic statements. What really has me hopping mad is watching HBO's "Too Big To Fail," the Academy Award winning doc, "Inside Job," and Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story."

What is consistent in each film is the extent to which the nation's political brokers did the bidding of the nation's financial community without any regard to the constituents who sent them to state capitals and the nation's capital.

A reasonable person would think that after watching this economy almost go the way of the Great Depression, the nation's political leaders would be willing to tell Wall Street's lobbyists to go to hell. Instead, what we get are a bunch of sycophants willing to watch mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, neighbors and church members continue to be manhandled by the nation's financial community, all in pursuit of the almighty buck.

Which brings us to this week's travesty.

Thank you, U.S. Senate Republicans. Your actions this week showed your callous disregard for Americans from all stripes and colors, folks who have seen $2 trillion in retirement accounts wiped out in the past 15 months.

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This week, the GOP used the filibuster to prevent the U.S. Senate from taking a vote on President Obama's nomination of Richard Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio, to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

By forcing the Senate to meet the 60-vote threshold, the GOP effectively prevented Cordray from taking control of the office. By not having a full-time director, the bureau, already approved by Congress and signed into law by Obama, can only do a limited number of things.

Right now, the bureau can oversee bank regulations, but can't examine payday lenders and the mortgage servicers. These were ground zero for all of the shenanigans that destroyed the housing market, sending our economy into a tailspin.

Senate Republicans, except for Scott Brown of Massachusetts (who is facing a primary challenge next year from Elizabeth Warren, the architect of the bureau), incredibly have said they desire to protect consumers, but want a few changes to allegedly strengthen the bureau.

What are those changes?

-- Get rid of a director and appoint a board.

-- Instead of a bureau funded by the Federal Reserve, let Congress set its budget.

-- In effect, let banking regulators overrule the bureau.

These changes are beyond laughable. In no way should the director be held hostage to the GOP as it tries to institute changes it couldn't institute when the law was passed.

First, appointing a bipartisan board is a joke. When folks in Washington don't want any accountability, they fall for the bipartisan board. To stop them from working, all one party needs to do is simply not make their appointments. What do we get? Gridlock.

Second, with Congress holding the purse strings, it can threaten the bureau by kowtowing to special interests. Just look at what is happening with the Environmental Protection Agency. Big business fights regulations the EPA sets, and Congress simply refuses to fund them or tries to make draconian cuts, rendering the agency ineffective.

Lastly, if the banking regulators did their jobs in the first place, we wouldn't be facing this mess.

The White House has to accept some of the blame. When Obama named Cordray on July 18, I found it laughable to listen to White House aides suggest that by backing away from nominating Warren, the GOP might allow the Senate to go into recess so Obama could make a recess appointment.

Anyone with half a brain knew the only thing the Republicans hated more than Warren was the actual agency that she conceived and got up and running.

No matter the lip service from Senate Republicans about protecting consumers, Wall Street despises the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The last thing they want is a strong, quasi-independent agency unwilling to let them do as they wish -- to the detriment of consumers.

Senate Republicans lost the battle to get their changes into the law, and now they are willing to play politics with the bureau's nominee, hoping to stall till after the November 2012 elections so they can put a Republican president in the Oval Office and kill the agency.

Rallying its supporters to put pressure on the Senate to confirm Obama's nominees is an area where this White House has been grossly ineffective. Whereas President George W. Bush pulled out all the guns to put pressure on Congress to stop the logjam on appointees, the Obama administration has been far too timid and inconsistent, demanding appointees have an up or down vote.

The truth is Republicans, Democrats and independents have been severely damaged by the grotesque actions on Wall Street, and by blocking Cordray's nomination, Senate Republicans have effectively said we don't care about regular folks but will do the bidding of the financial industry, which contributed $6.5 million to GOP senators this year.

The money regular folks lost? Who cares? says the Senate GOP. Just keep fattening our coffers, Wall Street lobbyists.