Consumers lose

The following editorial appeared in the Seattle Times:

What is it Republicans in the U.S. Senate have against American consumers knocked flat by abusive mortgage companies, credit reporting agencies, payday lenders and debt collectors?

Once again the GOP lined up behind their Wall Street patrons and the enemies of ordinary citizens trying to recover from the flimflams that helped bring on the Great Recession.

They refused to end debate on confirmation of Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, oh by the way, created by Congress.

The bureau, a product of the none-too-muscular Dodd-Frank reform law, is an attempt to restore a measure of oversight to banks and financial services after it had been stripped away. The July 2010 legislation was a direct result of the economy’s implosion in 2008.

Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general, has a solid reputation. No one disputes his credentials or capacities. What the GOP objects to is anyone with the authority to blow the whistle on scandalous interest rates and fees, and clear-as-mud mortgage and credit language.

The Republican cover story is that the agency is too powerful and independent. Yes, and their point would be?

Senators want to limit the bureau’s budget and undo its authority. Never mind that the legislation already allows the heads of other major federal agencies — the Financial Stability Oversight Council — to overturn regulations with a two-thirds vote.

These same senators pledged last spring to stymie confirmation until the bureau was neutered. It was the same mindless pursuit of gridlock that comes with signing a promise not to allow any new taxes.

President Barack Obama could appoint Cordray while Congress is on holiday recess. The GOP is just as likely to defend its campaign-cash-providing patrons with a parliamentary maneuver that never formally adjourns the Senate.

“We’re not giving up on this,” Obama said last week. He should quit groping for a make-nice compromise and hold the Senate’s self-serving obstinacy up to public scrutiny.

Consumers will literally pay a price for the GOP’s lucrative stubbornness.

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Letter: The Homeless Ordinance

As I understand it, on Monday the assembly will be voting on an ordinance to permit the police to evict people camping in the downtown and make them move to a camping area in the Thane avalanche zone. I think that’s mistaken public policy. I’ve just hand delivered a 5 page letter to the CBJ in opposition. But what’s really needed isn’t my opinion. It’s a newspaper’s reporting of the facts. That said, if someone’s camped out in a doorway, it couldn’t be a more clear cry for help. And underneath that gruff scary homeless person is so often someone suffering the terrible diseases of mental illness and addiction.

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Win Gruening: Homeless Not Helpless

When Mayor Ken Koelsch recently proposed a city ordinance prohibiting camping in downtown Juneau to help resolve on-going issues with our homeless population, there was significant public reaction.

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My Turn: A Good Time for Kindness

Some time ago, the snow was mounded everywhere, deep and wet. As I gazed from my window, contemplating shoveling, I saw a neighbor plowing out the nextdoor driveway and mailbox — and then chug over to our mailbox, and plow it out as well. Such a welcome and unrequested act of thoughtfulness, of kindness: it lifted my spirits!

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