How Do You Neuter the Consumer Finance Protection Finance Bureau and Get Away With It?

Republicans have successfully filibustered the nomination of Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, denying an up-or-down vote to the nominee. The totals: 53 “ayes” and 46 “nays.”

I’ll have more about this later, but the politics are worth unpacking. Republicans have been pretty explicit that they don’t want Cordray confirmed, and didn’t want Elizabeth Warren confirmed, because they don’t want the current version of the CFPB to exist. But they didn’t want to come off as scolds-qua-scolds. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., cast his vote then plugged “the Responsible Consumer Financial Protection Regulations Act of 2011,” which he’s co-sponsored, and which would pull the CPFB out of the Fed and change its leadership from a chairman to a five-member board.

The same dynamic is playing out in Massachusetts, where the blocked Warren* is leading a U.S. Senate poll. American Crossroads goes after Warren not on her support of Occupy Wall Street goals, but on… her closeness to banks!

As Sargent says, the tacit acknowledgment here is that voters like the idea of somebody watching over/nailing banks. But in the murk and muck of Senate votes, you can prevent anyone from doing so with miminal blowback.

*Yes, technically she wasn’t blocked, because there was no vote on her – the assumption was made that she’d be filibustered.