Volcker neglects to name names

VOLCKER NEGLECTS TO NAME NAMES…. The sentiment Paul Volcker expressed yesterday couldn’t be more accurate.

Congress has never been more dysfunctional than it is right now, and it’s preventing progress on crucial financial reform, lamented Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

“Capitol Hill — the Senate – is dysfunctional. I’m very disturbed by the trend in the government generally and its inability to get together and do things,” said Volcker, who serves as a top outside economic adviser to President Barack Obama.

Volcker said he had hopes that financial reform would prove an exception to that trend. “This is a relatively neutral subject politically. The need is so clear here, and it’s not an ideological issue — it shouldn’t be anyway…. It’s a practical issue. And I’m disturbed that they can’t get together.”

To illustrate the degree of dysfunction, Volcker pointed to the fact at a time when reforming the financial system is such a priority the Senate still hasn’t confirmed high-level Treasury officials. In contrast, in 1969 he was nominated as undersecretary of treasury by Inauguration Day and confirmed about a week later, Volcker recalled.

“We are more than a year after the inauguration and neither the undersecretary for international [affairs] or the undersecretary for domestic finance — you don’t have them. It’s not because people haven’t been put forward. It took them a long time to get them nominated and an impossible amount of time to get them confirmed…. What’s going on here?” Volcker asked.

Good points, all. The Senate’s dysfunction is a national scandal, and Volcker’s right to be frustrated.

And while I agree wholeheartedly with the concerns, Volcker left out one extremely relevant word: Republicans. Volcker summarized the problem nicely, but neglected to mention that we all know exactly what’s causing the problem.

It’s not like there’s any great mystery here. It’s not that “the government” is suffering from an “inability to get together and do things.” There are key vacancies, the president has nominated qualified officials, and a Senate majority has wanted to confirm these nominees for months.

But Republicans won’t allow the votes to happen. That’s a disgrace that undermines the government’s ability to function during a crisis, and I’m glad Volcker is shining a light on the problem. Let’s not forget, though, exactly who’s to blame.