Richard Cordray: Obama Invokes the Teddy Roosevelt Option

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 4 2012 10:30 AM

Richard Cordray: Obama Invokes the Teddy Roosevelt Option

When the Senate Republicans filibustered Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nominee Richard Cordray, I gave 'em credit for honesty. Cordray, they admitted, was a fine and dandy public servant. But the CFPB shouldn't exist. If the GOP couldn't get rid of it, well, it could at least prevent it from installing a chairman. "I think the creation of this particular organization in this form was a legislative disaster," explained Sen. Richard Lugar, rarely the first Republican to kick over a negotiating table. "It’s not a question of the merits of the nominee. It’s a question of accountability."

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

Barack Obama will tell you where to stick your "accountability."

The Obama administration plans to use its executive authority to install Richard Cordray as head of a federal consumer watchdog agency in a defiant move after the Senate rejected the nomination last month, a White House official confirmed Wednesday.
Advertisement

The going theory among Republicans was that Obama couldn't and wouldn't do this. Why? In order to break, in order for there to be a true recess, both Houses need to agree on a resolution of adjournment. Since May 2011, House Republicans have refused to do so. Instead, they've set up pro forma sessions -- every three days, the House must be gaveled in, and that's it. No action, no legislation. Republicans did this and pointed out that no president since Teddy Roosevelt had tried to ram nominees through in anything less than a multi-week recess.

Republicans are responding like you'd expect them to. Speaker Boehner is representative.

This is an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama that defies centuries of practice and the legal advice of his own Justice Department. The precedent that would be set by this cavalier action would have a devastating effect on the checks and balances that are enshrined in our Constitution.

This is mostly cant. 1) It's not "entirely unprecedented," because the administration (as ThinkProgress blogger Ian Millhiser has argued for weeks) was xeroxing a ploy by Teddy Roosevelt. 2) Same with "centuries." 3) How does anyone in Congress type the phrase "checks and balances" without collapsing in a giggle-heap? Republicans were effectively nullifying the leadership of an agency created by a previous Congress because, dagnabbit, they wished it hadn't been created.

I don't see any new options or arguments here for a GOP that's already in full-time revolt against the White House's appointments. Maybe we'll see a lawsuit, but we won't see it reverse Obama's move. (Also, as my colleague Matthew Yglesias points out, the cluster-fark over the CFPB ended up producing a good U.S. Senate candidate in Elizabeth Warren. Cordray was a spare. Warren, today, is fundraising off of the promotion-by-force of her replacement.)

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 20 2014 1:50 PM Why We Shouldn’t Be Too Sure About the Supposed Deal to Return the Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 20 2014 3:12 PM Terror Next Door Prudie advises a letter writer whose husband is dangerously, violently obsessed with the neighbors.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 21 2014 7:00 AM Watch the Moon Eat the Sun: The Partial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, Oct. 23
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.