The corrupt House GOP is in shambles but, for some reason, the corrupt Republicans at SCOTUS appear to have momentarily lost the plot, as all discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
We begin where we left off yesterday, as the historic and stunning news had just broken that far-right Republican members succeeded in their scheme to unseat Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the U.S. House. Moments later, he announced he would not run again for the position. Then, after Republicans adjourned the House until next Tuesday to try and regroup, they immediately began trying to blame Democrats for the Republican coup. They even kicked former Speaker Nancy Pelosi out of her Capitol office, despite her being in California yesterday for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's funeral.
Of course, despite GOP politicians and pundits hoping to blame Dems for their own failure, none of it was evidence of Democratic genius, but of a thoroughly broken Republican party. They may not yet have noticed --- or care to admit it to themselves --- but the party has been collapsing for years under the strain of its own corruption, lack of self awareness, dedication to an autocratic cult leader, and its own toxic mix of of victim-hood, grievance, entitlement, rage and revenge.
Today, far-right Republicans Jim Jordan of Ohio and Steve Scalise of Louisiana tossed their hat into the ring to become the next Speaker. Others may jump in before next week. It may take even more than the record 15 rounds of voting the Republicans needed just nine months ago in January to install McCarthy as their new, if short-lived Speaker.
While the GOP continues to fall apart, the White House continues to fight for Americans by battling back against the corrupted rightwing U.S. Supreme Court. On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced another $9 billion of student loan debt relief, for a total of $127 billion in loan forgiveness to date for some 3.6 million borrowers. That, as the Administration reformulates a plan to forgive the debt of tens of millions of Americans after SCOTUS made up a reason out of whole cloth earlier this year to reject Biden's previous plan.
But SCOTUS, as their new term got under way on Monday, has already unleashed some surprises. On Monday, the most corrupt Justice on the Court, Clarence Thomas, actually did the right thing and recused himself from a case where he obviously should have. (Are you okay, Clarence?) And on Tuesday, the majority of the Court, including Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and several other rightwingers, appeared to push back hard against the attempt by Payday Lenders to dismantle the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) entirely on wildly dubious grounds.
The effort to undo the CFPB was actually spearheaded by rightwing extremists on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, arguably the most "conservative" (and corrupt) appellate court in the nation. They used a narrow lawsuit by the lenders to declare the CFPB's entire funding mechanism to somehow be unconstitutional, even though, when the consumer bureau was stood up, as the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren during the Obama Administration (before she went on to become a U.S. Senator), its funding mechanism was similar to many other quasi-independent Executive Branch agencies since the founding of the republic.
Thomas noted during oral argument on Tuesday that he did not see "a Constitutional problem" with the funding mechanism. Kavanaugh observed that Congress could change it "tomorrow" if they had a problem with it. Justice Elana Kagan charged the claims of the case were "flying in the face of 250 years of history." Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, at one point, characterized the challenger's argument to say that "a provision of the Constitution is unconstitutional."
In short, it didn't go well for the lenders or Donald Trump's former Solicitor General who represented them at SCOTUS.
We're joined today to discuss what happened and what it all means --- including for other Executive Branch agencies that the right is similarly hoping to see dismantled, piece by piece, by the Judicial Branch --- by progressive financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN. He wrote a award-winning 2016 book about the same 2008 financial crisis that spurred the creation of the CFPB.
As Dayen explains today, the agency was created by Congress specifically to protect American consumers against scams by payday lenders, banks, credit card companies and other corporations. It receives its annual funding via the Federal Reserve, with a cap set by Congress. He argues that this case "threatens practically every consumer financial transaction that is made in the country."
After citing dozens of other federal agencies that are not funded via annual appropriates by Congress itself, Dayen asks, "If CFPB is unconstitutional, why wouldn't all these other things also be unconstitutional? In fact, there are plenty of other programs that are not funded by direct annual appropriations by Congress. I'll give you two big ones: Medicare and Social Security. They are mandatory spending. 60% of the federal budget is funded this way. Are they also unconstitutional because they are not exclusively funded by Congress?"
The 5th Circuit, he notes, "made this one ruling trying to help out payday lenders, but it really affects the functioning of daily life." The right has been gunning for the CFPB ever since its creation, and this case was supposed to be the one that finally killed it once and for all. But, Dayen suggests, with the caveat that anything could happen with this Court, after yesterday's argument at SCOTUS, he doesn't see the five votes that would be needed there to kill the CFPB...
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