As expected, Senate Republicans have voted in a united bloc (with the exception of occasional pseudo-moderate Olympia Snowe, who voted “present”) to filibuster President Obama’s nomination of Richard Cordray. Not voted against the nomination itself, voted (as they do customarily these days) to filibuster it. If you aren’t familiar with the difference, see Filibuster 101, and how it’s being abused by Senate Republicans. Essentially, the GOP voted procedurally to not allow the Senate to even vote on Cordray’s nomination – because the Republican leadership understands that there are enough Democrats and independents in the Senate to confirm Cordray…so they won’t even allow a vote. An abuse of process? Yes. Unexpected? Not at all: it is how the GOP does business these days. The question is what to do now. And it’s not a question you or I can really have much of an effect on; this question goes directly to President Obama. So here’s what amounts to an open letter:
OK, Mr. President – now, right now, would be an excellent time for you to show us that your brilliant speech in Osowatomie on Tuesday wasn’t just pretty words. You have in front of you a perfect opportunity for you to do something concrete to advance the agenda you laid out in your speech. In fact, it is nearly THE perfect opportunity, one not likely to be repeated soon with the lines so clearly drawn, since it doesn’t require you to work with or depend upon any of the other branches of government. Political calculations need not be made in this instance; there is no quid-pro-quo.
As Jared Bernstein put it in the post I linked to in my previous post, you have begun speaking a language that is resonating with voters and citizens…and now, with the GOP’s rejection of Cordray’s nomination, you have an opportunity to also act in a way that would resonate with them. You can do so in a way that is unfettered by considerations of having to give up something to get votes, or worry about what the Supreme Court might do. Almost like a murder investigation’s steps of means, motive and opportunity, you have the opportunity to do this now (or at least soon), completely on your own. The House cannot keep the Senate in session without recess forever. You have the means: the constitution explicitly gives the President the authority to recess-appoint on his own initiative, unilaterally. The only remaining question – literally – is: do you truly have the motive to match your actions to your words?
Tuesday, in Kansas, you told the American people:
Every day we go without a consumer watchdog is another day when a student, or a senior citizen, or a member of our Armed Forces — because they are very vulnerable to some of this stuff — could be tricked into a loan that they can’t afford — something that happens all the time. And the fact is that financial institutions have plenty of lobbyists looking out for their interests. Consumers deserve to have someone whose job it is to look out for them. (Applause.) And I intend to make sure they do.
You bet consumers deserve that. And you have the means and the opportunity to see that they get it. Now, the time for words is over. It is time for you to show the people who took time out of their busy lives to come see you speak on Tuesday, and the millions more who heard it live on TV or radio, or heard or read about it later that day in the news, that you meant what you said. Show them that you also have the motive you said you had in your speech. The voters are watching, and as I said in my previous post, comparing yourself to Teddy Roosevelt, no matter how eloquently done, will simply not resonate with them if you aren’t willing to break out TR’s “big stick.”
You chose these terms and these images, used this language. Now show us they weren’t just a pretty speech. Give struggling Americans what you said they deserved. Recess appoint Richard Cordray at the earliest opportunity.