Here are two relatively obscure examples of why Congress may very possibly be the most inept governing body on the face of the planet.
You may recall that we had a banking crisis in this country back in 2008. Many of the major financial institutions had participated in lending practices that were so risky, so unethical and so vast in scope that their failure threatened to bring down the entire economy. Many of these major banks were on the verge of collapse. Had they failed they would have taken the economy down with them. So the government stepped in and bailed them out with a $700 billion bailout.
As you might imagine Congress thought it would be a good idea to make sure that the opportunity for such malfeasance never happens again. So the Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Bill. Included in the bill was the formation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The purpose of the bureau was to regulate consumer credit, mortgages, and other financial products.
The President appointed Elizabeth Warren to head the bureau. Ms. Warren is an American bankruptcy expert, Harvard Law School professor and chairwoman of the oversight committee that managed the 2008 bailout. She is more than qualified to chair the bureau.
Republicans do not like regulators. Therefore Republicans do not like Dodd-Frank or the CFPB. They feel Dodd-Frank is too broad in scope and might impair the ability of their banking buddies to operate profitably. And they claim that the Dodd-Frank bill eviscerates fundamental constitutional principles. They also realized that the CFPB could not legally begin to perform its oversight duties until a chairperson was confirmed by Congress.
So Republicans blocked the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the CFPB. The President acquiesced and withdrew Me. Warren’s name for consideration and nominated former Ohio attorney General Richard Cordray for the post. Republicans say they will block his nomination as well.
So to summarize…the United States Congress passes a bill. The President of the United States signs it into law. Then members of that same Congress, alleging the evisceration of fundamental constitution principles, eviscerate constitutional principles by arbitrarily blocking the execution of a bill passed by Congress and signed into law by the President of the United States. Got it?
Meanwhile the banking industry continues to operate under the same rules that allowed it to bring down the economy. Got it!
(Footnote: Elizabeth Warren is apparently having the last laugh. She currently leads incumbent Republican Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race for Ted Kennedy’s old seat.)
Here is another example.
In September of 2010 the President appointed Marie Carmen Aponte Ambassador to El Salvador. The Republicans are not fond of Ms. Aponte primarily because the President took advantage of a rule that allows him to make appointments during a Congressional recess without going through the process of a confirmation hearing. Congress is still required to confirm her and assuming that she has done nothing illegal, confirmation would normally be a formality.
Ms. Aponte is apparently very good at her job and has no evidence of witchcraft or other illicit behavior in her back round.
Unfortunately, on June 28 Ms. Aponte took it upon herself to write an op-ed in La Prensa Grafica, one of the daily newspapers in El Salvador. Ms. Aponte, responding to a State Department cable to all ambassadors worldwide urging them to recognize gay pride month, wrote in part: “No one should be subjected to aggression because of who he is or who he loves. Homophobia and brutal hostility are often based on lack of understanding of what it truly means to be gay or transgender. To avoid negative perceptions, we must work together with education and support for those facing those who promote hatred.”
Republican Senator Jim DeMitt and a few of his homophobic cronies have stated that they will withhold support for Ms. Aponte’s confirmation due to her stance on what they refer to as aberrant behavior.
With all the important problems facing our country…a failing economy, two wars, rampant unemployment, crumbling infrastructure and mounting debt…you would think Congress would have better ways to spend its time then dithering over this ideological bulls--t.