|Shelby (center) Tours Tornado-Devastated Neighborhood|
True Republican senator that he is, Shelby wants to make sure his position in the kleptocracy stays secure by protecting predatory bankers from government oversight. He wants to make sure that the Alabamans he supposedly represents remain confused by abusive credit card practices and mortgage companies as they struggle to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. Even as his state is reeling from death and destruction, Senator Shelby flew back to Washington this week to do his real job: screwing the little guy.
Shelby happened to be in his home state during the Congressional recess when the deadly tornadoes hit. "This is hell," he proclaimed after touring the debris-ridden streets of Cullan, AL "This looks like a war zone. I have seen some of the damage in the rest of the state, but this is some of the worst that I have seen."
So he rushed back to Washington and wasting no time, penned an urgent letter to President Obama. He and forty-odd of his closest millionaire Republican senator friends don't want the fledgling Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to get off the ground. They admit consumers might need a protection or two, but it should be on their terms and the bankers' terms. They think one person - the dreaded Elizabeth Warren - would be too powerful and just too damned undemocratic. They want oversight -- oversight by them. They want checks and balances. (checks for them, fair and balanced for Fox News). And if they don't get their way, they'll throw a big old filibustering tantrum.
Dave Dayen of Firedoglake thinks Shelby may have just shot himself in the foot with his demands, inadvertently providing the impetus for President Obama to finally, at long last, recess-appoint Warren. Under the Dodd-Frank Law, the bureau must be made permanent by July. Time is running out. Obama himself may have been backed into a corner by the sly Republicans, well aware that Warren enjoys broad popular support and that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is probably just as opposed to the bureau as they are. They can then either accuse the President of sidestepping the Senate confirmation process, or let him face the wrath of his progressive base if he continues to waffle. But if, as now seems likely, Warren does get in via recess appointment, it'll be ten times as hard to get rid of her next year, no matter who has the majority. People -- even the constituents of Republicans -- appear to be waking up and not taking any more crap. When Paul Ryan has to be police-escorted out the back door of a Town Hall, that is reason to rejoice.
But back to Shelby. He has to at least give the appearance of fighting the Warren appointment and the existence of the whole bureau. His major campaign contributors are from the financial services sector. Among his top donors have been JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. He lists his net worth at a conservative average of $7.5 million, but as high as $30 million.
And to say that as ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee he has conflicts of interests is to be putting it kindly. Much of his wealth comes from his real estate holdings and their financing. He came under heavy scrutiny during the 2008 mortgage meltdown when it was revealed that he had financed an apartment complex he owns in Tuscaloosa with a $5 million loan from Freddie Mac, the same government-sponsored mortgage company falling under his committee's oversight. He owns a real estate title company valued at $1-$5 million. His earmarks sent federal dollars toward construction of the new $60 million science building at the University of Alabama -- which he humbly named after himself and wife Annette.(It kind of reminds me of Monticello). Tens of millions in additional earmarks have helped the college expand its enrollment. His apartment complex houses mainly university students. The banks make billions in college loans. And round and round the great world spins.
|What Being a Senator Will Buy You|