If the 99 percent wants a list of Senators who support Wall Street over Main Street, Sen. Richard Shelby conveniently collected the names last spring. He organized a letter signed by 44 colleagues demanding that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau be gutted. That’s the hallmark of the Dodd-Frank law approved by Congress to prevent predatory lending, liar loans and the other abuses behind the housing bubble—and our subsequent Great Recession.
The Alabama Republican’s letter carried a threat: The senators would block any nominee to head the agency.
At least one Republican, who wasn’t on that original list of forty-four, may have heard the protests of an America demanding reform, as embodied by the Occupy Wall Street movement. Yesterday, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) became the first Republican senator to support Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Once a director is at the helm, this new agency will be able to start cracking down on the financial industry’s worst abuses.
Brown’s support is a reminder that this should not be a partisan issue. Americans across the political spectrum want meaningful consumer protection to police Wall Street and the big banks.
Is Brown’s endorsement of Cordray a sign that the GOP is warming up to the idea of strong consumer protections on its own?
No. It shows that activists are making a difference. Sen. Brown’s office has received thousands of messages and phone calls from his constituents. The fact that he’s being challenged in the 2012 election by Elizabeth Warren probably doesn’t hurt either.
Nevertheless, 45 Republican senators haven’t moved from opposing ANY nominee to lead the agency until it is weakened. Just last week, Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) added his name to this list of obstructionists. This means Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) is the only Republican who has not yet made her position clear.
With Americans’ increasing outrage with Wall Street and its corporate cronies in Congress, a few of those 45 senators may rethink their obstructionist positions. Wall Street may have banked on national amnesia about the cause of 9 percent unemployment, five million foreclosures, and darkened career prospects for recent college graduates. Sen. Shelby and his gang may have figured that disguising their obstruction in the language of regulatory reform might have obscured their roles as servants of Wall Street. But our collective renewed attention demonstrates that we’re wide awake and know who’s hiding.
Tell your senators to side with Main Street over Wall Street. No obfuscation. No hiding.