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Advice and Consent of Obama’s Good Old Friends

September 18, 2010

Another day, another new government agency. On Friday, Obama has decided to circumvent the confirmation process for higher-echelon employees of the White House by making Elizabeth Warren his “assistant” and put her in charge of the freshly invented Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Does the term send shivers down your spine, too?) Had he simply called her the “director” of that entity, Obama would have had to send her to the Senate for confirmation hearings which Mme Warren would’ve been very unlikely to pass.

Obama whines and complains that he can’t get his nominees through confirmation hearings because Republicans contradict him for contradiction’s sake. But the fact of the matter is that the bulk of Obama’s nominees are borderline lunatic fringe lefties, whose honest thoughts and hopes are as creepy to 90% of Americans as is democracy to Sean Penn. So no wonder Obama tries to sneak them into his czar-binet one by one without asking for the “Advice and Consent of the Senate”.

It’s also remarkable that Obama is setting up this new bureau in the first place. His stated concern is that Americans are getting systematically exploited by greedy banks with financial products that the average consumer can’t possibly understand. His promise: “Never again will folks be confused or misled by pages of barely understandable fine print that you find in agreements for credit cards or mortgages or student loans.” I’m sure you’re all looking forward to this.

The French Cowboy is all for transparent markets. But, apart from the slightly utopian vision Obama is painting with banks offering neat and easy-to-understand contracts with everybody being happy, you have to wonder why an entire new agency had to created to accomplish this. Fine-print in credit card contracts could be eliminated with a one-liner bill. I’d suggest something like: “Credit card contracts must be short, easy to understand and printed in large letters.” Alternatively: “Credit card contracts mustn’t be half as complicated and jerry-rigged as the ObamaCare bill.”

(Reminds me: When is Obama going to set up an agency dedicated to ensuring that legislative bills get formulated in a way that allows members of Congress to understand them? It would be a huge step towards making them actually read the stuff they vote on.)

But I guess that this administration’s notion was, “Why pass a law when when you can just as well open a new agency that will exacerbate the burden this already bloated government has become?” — especially when the idea came from a dear old friend of Obama:

SCOTT HORSLEY: President Obama insists he’s a fan of Elizabeth Warren’s. He noted last week it was her idea to set up a government agency for the sole purpose of protecting consumers against risky home loans and credit cards.

President BARACK OBAMA: She’s a dear friend of mine. She’s somebody I’ve known since I was in law school. And, you know, I have been in conversations with her. She is a tremendous advocate for this idea.

Yeahahaha, the good ole friends of Obama. Bill, Bernadine, Jeremiah,… Elizabeth…

It’s really nice when your friend is the president and you happen to have a spankin’ idea for a new government agency and your president friend likes the idea and not only sets up the bureau you’ve suggested but also makes you the director of it an assistant to him. And because your views and plans are so extreme and out of sync with the large majority of Americans, you don’t even have to go through the Senate hearing that the law foresees.

The French Cowboy knows that a lot of people are already there, but I’m beginning to doubt that Obama actually believes that his initiatives are helping America. This consumer agency, eg, seems to be nothing but a way to get his friend Elizabeth a prestigious job and to punish financial businesses for existing, one of Obama’s favourite pastimes.

Businesses are rightly concerned about this new agency. The “protect consumers” story is like a thin alibi to build a bureau with the actual purpose of regulating the flow of private money. As David Hirschman from the Center for Capital Markets at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says on NPR:

For us the real question is, which path will this agency follow? Will it focus on improving disclosure for consumers and enforcing the law? Or is it going to be a more political effort to reallocate credit, restrict consumer choices? The latter would be the wrong prescription for the current economy.

Not only for the current but for pretty much any economy. What is it with this administration and the urge to take away options from citizens?

Here’s NPR’s Horsley’s final comment on Obama’s decision to circumvent the confirmation process for Warren:

[F]or now, the president seems to have decided Warren is less valuable as a political symbol than she is working in the White House to shape the new consumer protection bureau.

I wouldn’t quite put it that way. Obama simply seems to try to govern without the consent of the people.

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