Mitt Romney and Consumer Protection Regulation

Now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB, has been a particular target of the deregulation mafia. The CFPB, a watchdog agency created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform, has set out to create a protective buffer against the wave of frauds and abuses inflicted by scammers on struggling homeowners and other consumers --- whether those scammers be fly-by-night con artists or Fortune 500 bankers. Its mandate is to stand up for homeowners and for the elderly, for the middle class and the working poor --- in short, for all those Americans who were being shredded in the post-crash meat-grinder while the Wall Street vultures were lining their own pockets.

You might wonder how this could be even slightly controversial. Curbing fraud, promoting financial literacy, stopping predatory lenders, protecting seniors from financial abuse, and keeping hard-working families from being thrown out of their homes --- the mandate of the CFPB sounds like a no-brainer for any democratic society with a commitment to fairness, free markets, and the rule of law.

Then again, if your success depends on back-room deals, insider trading, rigging markets, skirting the law, and flouting the will of the American people, I can see how you might have a problem with it.

And that's where the proposals embedded in Governor Romney's economic plan come in. The Wall Street grave dancers couldn't win fair and square, so they're doing what they do so well: protecting their profits by gaming the system --- then trying to pass off their slash-and-burn practices and over-the-top greed as "conservative."

This is, in reality, nothing but an end-run around democracy --- winning by cheap and probably illegal tactics what was lost in the realm of American political institutions. In my opinion, it shows blatant disdain for the Constitution and spits in the face of the American people.

[Related Article: CFPB Head Faces Tough Questions From Congress]

Romney's economic plan sees it differently: "While not a panacea for the problem of over-regulation, implementation of this conservative principle would go some distance toward halting the relentless growth of the regulatory state."

It's true that "the regulatory state" is not something that Wall Street has ever really warmed up to. Indeed, the ideologues who profited most from the unfettered excesses that led to the crash --- many of whom continue to profit from its aftermath --- have done their best to go on as though nothing had happened. If something did happen, they expect us to believe that it happened on President Obama's watch, probably as a result of his "job-killing" policies. They maintain today --- as they always have and apparently always will --- that the solution to this and every other economic problem is to abandon regulation, screw scrutiny, and give "market forces" (i.e., them) free rein.

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