Friday, March 18, 2011

Spencer Bachus v. We the People

Spencer Bachus, Republican chair of the House Financial Services Committee, has been quoted as saying, "“In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”

This is but a narrower view of the entire Republican agenda, which is that government exists to serve Big Business -- financial, energy, defense, mining, whatever.

Acting upon  the quaint idea that perhaps, once in a while, government should fret just a little bit about just plain people (the real kind, not the corporate kind), Democrats in the last Congress, while giving away almost the entire store to the big banks, saved a piece of candy for John Q, Public.  It authorized the creation of something called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. 

Protect real people! Bachus wants no part of that!

The force behind the idea for the agency is Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor and expert on financial law who chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel to investigate the Troubled Assets Relief Program that bailed out the big banks that almost destroyed the U.S. economy in 2008-2009. She used the post as a bully pulpit to promote the idea of protecting common people from the ruthless madness of the greed-driven honchos of the humongous banks.

After Congress put the consumer bon-bon into the law that gave all the other candy to the banks, President Obama named Warren as an adviser, with the task of setting up the new bureau and recommending a director for it.  For the nonce, it's an ethereal thing, caught between darkness and dawn.

Warren herself, obviously, is the best person to head the bureau .  The Republicans, obviously, are gunning for her.  At a congressional hearing, Bachus told Warren her inchoate agency would be a "self-regulated, unchecked body governed by one person."

Nonsense, Warren responded. "If we had had this agency six years ago, eight years ago, we would not be in the mess we are today," she said.

Bachus has already enlisted Timmy Titmouse in his war on Warren.  (That would be Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, the big banks' man in Washington.)  In a letter to Timmy, he wrote: "(R)eports about the role played by political appointees in the Treasury department — including those affiliated with the [CFPB], an agency that does not yet have any regulatory or enforcement authority — raise further questions about the [mortgage settlement] process.”

A more accurate way of putting this would be, "State attorneys general, frustrated by Republican friends of the big banks, asked Warren for advice about dealing with the mortgage settlement crisis."

The crisis is that hundreds of thousands of homeowners struggling to stave off foreclosure have been left in limbo by a government program that encourages mortgage companies to modify their loans. Delays by the banks in handling their cases have even left some homeowners worse off than before they entered the program. Fraudulent abuse of paperwork filings have further muddied the waters.

This in itself is a screaming example of exactly why we need the consumer protection bureau and need someone like Elizabeth Warren to head it.

But Big Business owns Bachus, as it owns Geithner, and virtually all of government, including the Supreme Court.  (Why won't Thomas and Scalia let the public see their travel records?  Have they Koched up something that's not quite kosher?)

Folks, we're in a card game where the deck is stacked against us. And we keep re-electing the same crooked dealers.

1 comment:

  1. Top of the day to you & Lois!

    Tom you are so right; We need some New honest dealers a real new Deal for the people!

    We are n Ca. for spring break. And Sister Debby believes we need Warren to run for pres.

    May we have lunch soon. Rowley& John