Why Is The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Trial By Congress?


Later, Rep. Robert Dold, R-Ill., characterized the CFPB as offering "theoretical consumer protection." Seriously? For some, "consumer protection" is a punchline. For Warren it has been a guiding principle. She has been screaming from the rooftops for years about the injuries and indignities visited upon American consumers by the financial institutions that both Democrats and Republicans were supposed to be monitoring. But precious few of you listened to her. And now you have the chutzpah to suggest that her brand of consumer protection is theoretical, implying that yours is real? Where were you these past several years when the financial services industry was shaking down the American consumer?

Republicans are pulling out all the stops in the hopes that they'll kill the CFPB before it really gets going, raising issues about CFPB employees consulting with state attorneys general who are trying to eliminate fraud from the mortgage servicing business; about how the CFPB is funded. It all seems quite petty. The law establishing the CFPB was drafted to shield it from Congressional tampering and as advertised, Republican members of the House are trying to tamper with it—limiting its funding and working to undermine the woman who fought for it and is working hard to turn the concept into a reality.

Ultimately, there wasn't a particular theme to the questioning—rather it was more like a series of snipes. It seemed to me that they were trying to take her down by any means necessary. Actually, there was a theme: political suicide. The sniping from rank and file Republicans on the Financial Services Committee may be political theater, but they ought to consider the real-world ramifications of taking this approach.

As Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the former Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pointed out on Monday's Morning Joe, "This is not just the left and the right. The Republican Party is united against healthcare and united against the environment. They're not united against financial reform. The Tea Party people didn't send people to Washington to defend derivatives. I think the fight over Elizabeth Warren would be worth having and I'm not sure how all the Republican senators would vote."

[Related story: The GOP's Plans for Financial Reform]

I agree with him. This issue crosses party lines and, broadly speaking, the American people see through the rhetoric. They want someone out there watching their backs, who's smart enough and tough enough to take on the financial services industry when they step out of line. Now who do you think is better suited for that job: Congress or Elizabeth Warren?

I frankly don't understand why Republicans don't support Elizabeth Warren. And please don't give me the Tea Party mantra about how the world would be perfect if only government would get out of our lives. Instead of trying to find a way to work with her to protect consumers—and last time I checked, these politicians "represent" and, in fact, are consumers—they want to demonize her and strangle the newly created CFPB.

I am not an unreasonable guy. I don't disagree with Rep. Capito's recently stated objection to Warren's overuse of the phrase "cop on the beat," which is a pretty considerable admission coming from a guy who loves a good catch phrase. However, it does accurately describe what we have lacked heretofore and so sorely need today.

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