Elizabeth Warren could barely contain her excitement today at an event put on by Democracy Journal marking the two-year anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – and, of course, right on the heels of Cordray’s confirmation to head the agency after two years of Republicans’ doggedly obstructionist campaign to prevent it.
Though the agency has gotten off to a rough start, it has already accomplished much. As John Gravois reported for this magazine last year:
Thus far, the CFPB has issued proposed rules for mortgage servicers, proposed to bring large debt collectors and credit reporting agencies under federal supervision for the first time ever, and launched an inquiry into overdraft fees, among many other things. In terms of sheer man-hours, it has spent the largest share of its time writing extensive new rules for the mortgage sector—the largest consumer finance market in the world.
“Wall Street lobbyists plotted with Republicans to destroy [the agency’s] independence and cut off its funding,” Warren said, speaking about the struggle to form the Bureau, which climaxed in a bitter nomination fight and Obama’s appointment of Corday during Senate’s recess, a move Republicans are now calling unconstitutional.
During the speech, Warren declared victory for the agency after the almost-showdown over the filibuster won Obama seven of his nominees that had been blocked by Republicans, including Cordray.
“There was a huge grassroots energy behind this bill,” she said before the crowd Wednesday. “In the end, David beat Goliath.”
She repeated the David-Goliath comparison, at one point saying to the audience: “Come on, you have to applaud.”
It’s been a good couple of days for Hill Democrats, but as the Supreme Court approaches its examination of whether the appointment of Corday during recess was unconstitutional, I have to wonder just how temporary the Republicans’ relenting is.
If Reid’s threat to trigger the “nuclear” option showed anything, it showed just how far we have to go before leaders on both sides of the aisle can get anything done. It seems that extreme and alarmist-sounding threats are the only thing that can bring about action, and from the fiscal cliff to the “nuclear option”, leadership seems to have become a game of harnessing that panic and bending it toward a certain goal.
Regardless of how short-lived this break in gridlock is, though, Warren has reason to be cautiously optimistic. Between the establishment of the CFPB and proposed legislation to renew Glass-Steagall’s separation of banks, enthusiasm seems to be slowly gathering for financial reform.
“To everyone who cares about having a strong financial watchdog – we have to stay vigilant,” Warren said Wednesday. “We know the story is still being written.”