Sunday, July 17, 2011

The GOP's midsummer night's dreams

All the world's a stage
And all the men and women merely players...
--- Shakespeare

Of all of the charades being played in politics today, the leading entry must be the right-wing Republican choral group on Capitol Hill that is demanding a vote on a balanced budget
constitutional amendment before any agreement with President Obama on a plan to avoid default. Guys like Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell may be foolish, but they aren't stupid on their better days. You do have to wonder, however, how they intend to continue tilting windmills right up until the last seconds before the nation defaults from Wall Street to Beijing.

To remind you of the formidable task of adding an amendment to the Constitution:

It requires a two-thirds vote to pass in both houses, which would make it DOA in the Senate.

It requires the approval of three-fourths of the state legislatures.

The bad news for most of the Boehner-McConnell Republicans is that they wouldn't be around long enough to see it happen. Nor, for that matter the Ol' USA as we have come to love it. No matter. All 47 Republican senators are supporting this long day's journey into night - and many nights afterward.

So what's the point of this political theater of the absurd? There isn't any point aside from politics while the nation is held hostage.


While we're on the subject of charades, I loved Gov. Kasich's official reason for not attending the forthcoming Ohio Republican Party's royal outing of the year in Cleveland - the annual dinner - coming on Friday. He has, it says here, a "scheduling conflict" in southwestern Ohio, his aides explained with a straight face. It's the most hackneyed explanation for a political no-show that the pol didn't want to attend anyway. Even in the day of Jim Rhodes, he was always out of town during civil rights programs in Columbus. He even showed up at a place where he wasn't expected.

Kasich's snub of his party, immediately set off hisses among Republicans that it again demonstrates the icy feeling between the governor and State Chairman Kevin DeWine dating back to the November campaigns. This could get interesting in a matchup of egos over who is really running the state party - or running away from it.

By the way, Kasich's sidekick, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, will be skipping the dinner, too. Another scheduling conflict. The state and county Republicans continue to look south for their after-dinner speakers. This year's state dinner will feature Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. It will be his second coming to Ohio for a free dinner. He's already appeared in the lineup of southerners who have become regulars on the dais of the Summit County GOP dinners.

The Columbus Dispatch reported Sunday that Richard Cordray, former Ohio attorney general, will be nominated by President Obama to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau scheduled to open this week. But wait. The congressional Republicans have already caused Elizabeth Warren , a Harvard law professor, to withdraw from consideration for the j0b even though the bureau was her idea in the first place. Republicans stopped short of calling for a Constitutional Amendment to abolish the bureau to satisfy objections from America's financiers on Wall Street.

Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown expects Cordray, among the Democratic Party's brightest stars, to be confirmed. Cordray was defeated by Mike DeWine in last Noember's Republican near sweep in Ohio as the economy played the major role.

P.S.: a GOP Constitutional Amendment against the consumer affairs bureau may still be in play.


David Hess said...

Abe: Not to take issue with Sherrod Brown's view that Rich Cordray is likely to be approved by the U.S. Senate as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, my own assessment is that Republicans have the necessary 41 votes to prevent Cordray's nomination from proceeding. The CFPB is anathema to the banks and financial services industries, which have so far spent millions in lobbying not only only to weaken the Dodd-Frank reform bill that barely squeaked by last year; the same lobbyists abhor the notion that an arm of the government overseeing ordinary people's interests in matters of credit, usurious interest rates, and rules of ethical conduct for banks and free-wheeling consumer financial services should even exist. Instead of an agency with a single director running the show, GOP senators say they want a "commission" (presumably of five members, divided by party), to be in charge -- in the interest, they say, of "transparency and accountability." The phoniness of that argument is that "transparency and accountability" is exactly what has been lacking in the provision of services to consumers by the financial institutions that have been milking borrowers dry with a galaxy of fees and stratospheric interest rates for years. Indeed, the CFPB was expressly created by law to impose "transparency and accountability" on the credit provenders, who've pumped several million dollars -- chiefly into Republican campaign coffers -- over the past year and a half. The CFPB officially comes to life this week, but without a director its powers are somewhat curtailed until one is settled into place. Senate Republican leaders have made it clear that, unless President Obama bows to their demands to neuter the new agency, they will block anyone he nominates to run the agency. Owing to the Senate obstructionists and the GOP-ruled House of Representatives, the most qualified person to run it -- Harvard Economics Professor Elizabeth Warren, who has been relentlessly hounded for months by many of the same Republicans who have benefited from the industry's campaign contributions -- was forced to withdraw from consideration to head the very office that she conceived.

David Hess said...
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