It’s hardly a secret that Republicans are hysterical about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law professor who’s helping establish it. But at a House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday, chaired by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the GOP’s misplaced anger bubbled over.
Ari Berman reported that McHenry accused Warren of lying to Congress before the hearing even got underway, and then devolved from there.
The subcommittee hearing devolved into a linguistic discussion of the true meaning of the word “advise,” as the Merriam-Webster definition (“to give [someone] a recommendation about what should be done”) flashed on large TV screens in the hearing room. But given that Warren had already copped to giving such advice, it was difficult to find any meaningful contradiction in her remarks. Nor has she or the CFPB played a leading role in the settlement talks. “It’s simply not accurate to say the CFPB has masterminded this,” Geoff Greenwood, spokesman for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, who’s leading settlement talks for the AGs, told me recently.
Despite his thin paper trail, McHenry was intent on making Warren look bad. The Western North Carolina Congressman frequently interrupted her answers and accused the CFPB of possessing “virtually unchecked” power. Near the end of the hearing, Representative John Yarmouth (D-KY) apologized to Warren for the “rude and disrespectful behavior of the chair.” Incidentally, McHenry has accepted generous campaign donations this year from big banks and industry trade associations opposed to bureau, including $1,000-plus checks from the American Bankers Association, Mortgage Bankers Association, American Express, American Financial Services Organization, Cash America International, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association. […]
The hearing was titled “Who’s Watching the Watchmen? Oversight of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” but Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) argued that it should be dubbed “Let’s Pretend the Financial Crisis Never Happened.” Indeed, Congressional Republicans spent no time on the lax oversight and corporate deception that led to the financial crisis — and how a consumer agency dedicated to policing the murky financial services sector might have prevented or mitigated a prolonged recession.
This is consistent with the larger right-wing pattern. Republicans are disgusted with a consumer advocate, looking out for the public’s interest, but impressed with financial industry criminals who nearly destroyed the global economy (and who direct generous contributions to the GOP’s coffers). Sanity dictates that Warren is a hero, which leads Republicans to treat her like a villain.
But it’s not just the bizarre and twisted GOP priorities that offend; it’s also the classless and rude manner in which Republicans conduct themselves. Check out this clip from the subcommittee hearing:
The Monthly has had its eye on McHenry for a long while, and he only seems to be getting more offensive as time goes on.