Saturday, May 10, 2014

Because Darrell Issa Is Too Lame To Have Succeeded At His Witch Hunt… Here's Feebleminded Trey Gowdy!


Several Beltway trade magazines referred to the 7 reactionary Democrats who voted with the Republicans Thursday for their deranged Benghazi witch hunt as "moderates." I assume they are using the term "moderate," as they always do, to connote "not progressive" and as a substitute for "conservative." "Moderate" actually is the opposite of "extremist," not the opposite of "liberal." In fact, the 7 pro-witch hunters all among the most conservative Democrats in Congress. These are the 7 wretched traitors with their ProgressivePunch crucial vote scores, 2013-2014:
Ron Barber (Blue Dog-AZ)- 24.66
John Barrow (Blue Dog-GA)- 22.22
Mike McIntyre (Blue Dog-NC)- 28.67
Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)- 43.71
Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN)- 39.22
Nick Rahall (Blue Dog-WV)- 42.48
Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ)- 31.72
A score less than 50.0 indicates the Member is pretty much aligned with the Republicans' conservative governance vision, although one of the most respected Members of Congress explained the vote for the witch hunts to me in an e-mail this morning in a different way: "I was so shocked to see xx's vote. Would hate to go through life so afraid of my constituents."

If you've been reading DWT with any regularity recently, you're probably aware we've been doing some running commentaries on Elizabeth Warren's excellent new book, A Fighting Chance. She didn't write about Benghazi in the book, but she did write about the serial lies conservatives and other slaves to corporate plutocrats would spew in the interest of preventing working families from getting a… well, a fighting chance. Over lunch yesterday, I read about the bullshit they threw at her efforts to establish an agency to protect consumers from the excesses of avaricious, criminally0-minded banksters:
The agency would engage in price fixing. Nope, the new credit agency would have the power to make prices clearer, but it wouldn't set prices.

The agency would grow the nanny state. Nope, the agency wouldn't try to prevent people from charging too much on a credit card or buying an overpriced car. Again, this was about transparency, making the terms of the deal clear and then letting people make their own choices.

The agency would stop innovation. Nope, banks could still come up with cool new products, but they couldn't build new things just to trick people about the price or trap people by hiding the risks.

The agency would put banks out of business. Well, it depends. If a bank built its profit model around trick and traps, then it would be in real trouble. On the other hand, if a bank wanted to compete straight up and make the terms of its deals clear, then that bank should be very happy about the new agency.
In the end, only 3 House Republicans voted for consumer financial protection-- and 19 sleazy Blue Dogs voted with the 173 Republicans against it. This morning, though, Senator Warren did write about Benghazi-- or at least the new witch hunt committee-- and she she did look at it through the lenses she had used to see the way conservatives were misleading on consumer protection 4 years ago. "Seriousness," she wrote the day after Boehner buckled to GOP extremists demanding another committee-- after Issa's clown show-- to mock the Benghazi tragedy, "is sorely missing from the no-holds-barred political theater of the House Republicans." 
I know a little bit about the way Trey Gowdy pursues oversight. I was on the other end of it when I was setting up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and I was called to testify before the House. As the Huffington Post reported at the time, Gowdy's interrogation of me "seemed to lack the basic facts" about the agency he was attempting to oversee. I'd like you to read their reporting on one of these exchanges just so you know what this Benghazi "investigation" is likely to look like:
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) grilled Warren on whether the bureau would make public the complaints it gets. She answered that the complaint issue was a work in progress, but that at the very least, there was progress in creating a system for large credit card companies.

"Are any of the complaints public?" Gowdy demanded.

"Congressman, we don't have any complaints yet," Warren said of the still-nascent agency. "What we're trying to do is build the system."

Gowdy also seemed to think that Warren had written the Dodd-Frank law, and he was determined to know what Warren meant by defining "abusive" practices as something that "materially interferes" with the ability of a consumer to understand a term or a condition.

"That suggests to me that some interferences are immaterial. Is that what you meant by that?" he asked a momentarily perplexed-looking Warren.

"Congressman, I believe the language you are quoting is out of the Dodd-Frank act," she said. "This is the language that Congress has adopted."

Still, Gowdy insisted on her answer, although the definitions and regulations required by the law are still being written.
As a Senator, I take oversight seriously because it is powerfully important. But Trey Gowdy gives oversight a bad name. The House GOP is on a waste-of-time-and-resources witch hunt and fundraising sideshow, shamefully grasping for any straw to make President Obama, former Secretary Clinton, or Secretary Kerry look bad. This stunt does a disservice to those who serve our country abroad, and it distracts us from issues we should be taking up on behalf of the American people.

With millions of people still out of work and millions more working full time yet still living below the poverty line, with students drowning in debt, with roads and bridges crumbling, is this really what the House Republicans are choosing to spend their time on? Even for guys who have so few solutions to offer that they have voted 54 times to repeal Obamacare, this is a new low.

House Republicans are doing whatever they can to distract the American people from what's really going on in Washington-- a rigged system that works great for those who have armies of lobbyists and lawyers but that leaves everyone else behind. A system in which Republicans protect tax breaks for billionaires while they block increases in the minimum wage for millions of people who work full time and live in poverty. A system in which Republicans give away billions of dollars in subsidies to Big Oil while making billions in profits off of our kids' student loans.

It's wrong, and it's shameful.

UPDATE: Pelosi Rejects GOP Witch Hunt

Although the Democratic caucus was severely split on Friday on whether or not to participate in the GOP's Benghazi witch hunt, reports are out now that Pelosi said he's on his own and Trey Gowdy and his band of sociopaths can have their own little party all to themselves. The Dems, according to the Washington Examiner-- warning, not the best source-- won't be appointing any members.
Democrats say they are concerned it will not allow their party to participate fairly in the investigation, which will involve subpoenas and viewing of classified materials related to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

According to a Democratic leadership aide, Pelosi rejects a rule that will not prevent chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., from issuing unilateral subpoenas without consulting with Democrats. The rules would also allow Republicans to prevent Democrats from interviewing witnesses.

Democrats say they do not want a repeat of the investigation conducted by the House Oversight panel, headed by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., which they believed was highly politicized: “Regrettably, the proposal does not prevent the unacceptable and repeated abuses committed by Chairman Issa in any meaningful way, and we find it fundamentally unfair.”

…Democrats had been considering boycotting the committee or perhaps appointing just one member [Alan Grayson, who is feared by most Republicans] to the panel.

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