D.C. Hits New Low

April 24, 2013 at 8:04 am 4 comments

imagesCA2E0P0ENational politics has hit a new dysfunctional low as Senators and Representatives scramble to varnish their conservative bona fides by disinviting Richard Cordray from Senate Hearings about the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.  That’s right, even though the CFPB has a statutory obligation to report to Congress, Congressman Jeb Hensarling, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is refusing to invite Cordray to Congressional Hearings reviewing CFPB activities.  In addition, Senate Republicans are criticizing Democrats for continuing to allow Cordray to testify at hearings.  The argument is that because a federal appeals court in Washington ruled that the President acted unconstitutionally in making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, the recess appointment of Mr. Cordray is also invalid.  The right thing to do is apparently to pretend that he doesn’t exist.

Why is this a new low in politics?  Because Washington is no longer about getting legislation passed but about vilifying the other side and even more perniciously questioning the legitimacy of those with whom you disagree.  If you still want to pretend that President Obama wasn’t elected, well there’s always Internet sites ready to tell you that he’s actually a foreign-born carpet-bagger with a doctored birth certificate to boot.

When the local judge or town board member who has been serving in your community for years comes knocking at your door for your vote this November, no need to politely listen to his arguments for his re-election, simply ask what party he belongs to and if you share this party, offer your support.  If you don’t, politely slam the door in his face.

Want to pretend that Congress didn’t create the CFPB?  Point to a court case about the NLRB and then criticize the Bureau’s Director for carrying out the responsibilities of its director.  Public policy becomes so much easier when we simply ignore the other side of the argument.

Our political system is breaking down in this country.  Not because there is anything wrong with our country’s governing structure, which I still believe is one of the most brilliant creations in the history of mankind, but because the American public, aided and abetted by talk radio, the Internet and  cable “news” networks, is increasingly punishing politicians who understand that the purpose of politics is to try to come to a consensus on difficult issues on which reasonable people disagree.  It’s perfectly acceptable for members of the House Financial Services Committee to question Director Cordray about the impact that the court’s ruling has on his ability to lead the Bureau.  It’s quite another to say that the law is so clear that Mr. Cordray is somehow an illegitimate representative of a Bureau that Congress voted to create in the first place.

The reality is that this type of poisonous dogmatic politics makes it  increasingly difficult for organizations like credit unions to get a fair hearing in Washington.  The more legislating isn’t about grappling with issues such as member business lending and financial reform, the less people who actually have legitimate needs to be addressed by government have a chance of making sure that government actually helps them.  As long as people think that the vindication of their viewpoint is only one more election away, our country will be unable to grapple with the serious problems that need to be addressed.  Something tells me that there are certain leaders in China chuckling about what they’re seeing.

Entry filed under: Advocacy, General. Tags: , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Peggy C  |  April 25, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Thank you for this insightful post. I have been very frustrated with politics in general, and have been following the topic of the NLRB appointments and its impact on President Obama’s other apppointments. It seems that Congress would rather we have no representation on the boards of so many important organizations than confirm someone the President nominated. Not to mention pass any laws he appears to support. You have illustrated so clearly what I have been thinking about the dysfunction in our lawmaking, but have been unable to express. The nuances make my head spin. Just reading your opinion has helped. Here in VA both of our Senators are Democrats (and former VA Governors), but in recent voting they mostly cancelled each other out. Very discouraging time for our country. We’ll see what the next election brings indeed. I can’t fathom the outlook of those who believe we would be in any better shape if John McCain had won the presidency in 2008. I believe that he would have had a very tough time gaining cross-party support as well, a terrible reflection on politics today.

  • 2. Marvin Umholtz  |  April 29, 2013 at 1:42 am

    Not just the Congress but the entire country has conflicting partisan visions. It is divided almost 50-50 and geographically pits New England and the West Coast against the rest of the country. The House of Representatives has fewer than 100 districts that are up for grabs. The rest are safe seats for either Democrats or Republicans. That means that the primary election is the one that matters and both the left and the right get nominated by going to extremes. Credit union officials can complain about it all they want, but it is the new reality. The challenge for NAFCU, CUNA, and the state trade associations is to figure out how to successfully navigate this new reality. Public policy is not about left-right or good-bad, it is about arithmetic. Do you have the votes?

    • 3. Henry Meier  |  April 29, 2013 at 9:48 am

      Thanks for taking the time to reply Marvin. Your comment raises another question: Can credit unions bridge the 50 50 divide since they reflect values that resonate across the political spectrum or should they instead be positioning themselves with one party and letting their success rise or fall with each election cycle? What does it say about politics that only the handful of organizations that can influence elections can influence policy?

  • 4. web page  |  July 15, 2013 at 6:38 pm

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association.

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