D.C. Hits New Low
National 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.