Almost immediately after President Obama’s recess appointment of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray ended the Senate GOP’s lawless effort to shut down that agency by filibustering anyone appointed to lead it, those same senators started spouting false claims that the president’s actions were unconstitutional. Earlier this week, however, Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley suggested that he may go even further, retaliating against Obama by escalating the Senate GOP’s already unprecedentedly aggressive campaign of obstruction against the president’s nominees:
Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said today he prefers first seeking some Senate Democrats to join in a public pushback to Obama’s four recess appointments Jan. 4, including the installation of Richard Cordray as the new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Short of that, Grassley said, Republicans may have to go it alone with tough actions that could include holding up pending nominations from a Senate confirmation vote.
“We have got to stand our ground,” Grassley said in an interview. “You can’t let a president who takes an oath to uphold the Constitution go around the Constitution. That’s what the checks and balances are.”
Let’s be absolutely clear about what is going on here. Grassley is mad at President Obama, but his retaliation will not really hurt President Obama. Obama lives in a very nice house and enjoys a fine life regardless of whether the Treasury Department has an Undersecretary for Domestic Finance or whether the federal courts have an adequate slate of judges. The people who will be hurt by Grassley’s tantrum are the millions of consumers who depend on functioning federal agencies to safeguard their rights, the workers who depend on workplace safety and fair wage laws in order to provide for them families, and the thousands of litigants who wait months or years for justice in a judiciary burdened by far too many vacancies.
Grassley is wrong on the facts when he claims that Obama’s actions are the least bit unconstitutional, but everyone makes factually mistakes and such errors can be forgiven. What is unforgivable is Grassley’s willingness to punish millions of innocent bystanders simply to exact some kind of revenge against President Obama.