Left Justified


Two Heads for One Agency Brings Unprecedented Confusion to the CFPB

November 29, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

In the wake of the departure of Richard Cordray as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, two appointments are clashing for leadership. Mike Mulvaney, the director of the White House Office of Budget and Management is President Donald Trump’s pick; and Leandra English, Cordray’s choice for head of the CFPB.

Mulvaney has been an outspoken critic of the CFPB. Although he stated that “Rumors that I’m going to set the place on fire or blow it up or lock the doors are completely false,” he has placed a 30-day freeze on hiring and creating new regulations as his first act as director. He also imposed a separate freeze on civil penalty payments.

During his first day on the job Mulvaney met with senior staff and other employees at the bureau, but he did not have any contact with English. He has not tried to fire her either, although she filed a lawsuit against Trump and Mulvaney on Sunday, requesting that the court grant her the authority as director over the CFPB.

Mulvaney, a former representative from South Carolina, said Trump wants him to “get [the bureau] back to the point where it can protect people without trampling on capitalism.”

Mulvaney complained that the CFPB has unchecked power, but only Congress can change that, forgetting to add that Congress purposely created the CFPB as an entirely independent agency on purpose in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis which was caused in part by the unchecked influence financial institutions had on government bodies.

“It is a completely unaccountable agency, and I think that’s wrong,” Mulvaney said, adding later, “If the law allowed this place not to exist, I’d sit down with the president to try to make the case that other agencies can do this job well if not more effectively.”

Lawmakers Considering Forcing Social Media to Disclose Whose Buying Political Ads

October 8, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

Senate portrait for U.S. Senator Mark Warner.

In the past Republicans were against laws regulating political speech, but in the wake of the Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election conservative lawmakers are rethinking the issue.

Congressional Republicans are thinking about joining with Democrats to require more transparency for political advertising on Twitter and Facebook. Both parties would like to avoid a repeat of the 2016 election in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections.

Senators Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, say that the revelation that Facebook sold political ads to accounts linked to Russians is just the beginning. They would like to create legislation that would strictly regulate technology and social media companies so that they must reveal who they are selling political ads to. The goal would be to bring online content closer to the types of transparency television must provide.

Even though historically Republicans have been against regulation of political speech, they now seem to be more open to preventing foreigners, especially Russians, from having influence on the soon to be upon us 2018 elections. Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine and James Lanford of Oklahoma both sit on the intelligence committee where Warner is the head Democrat. They both said last week that they are considering the Warner-Klobacher proposal.

“We’re talking it through,” Lankford said in an interview, stating that he has “not determined yet what I’m going to do.”
Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, also said that, although he hasn’t yet taken a closer look at the proposal, he is amenable to the idea.

“We need full disclosure,” McCain said. He added that in recent reports he was a target of fake Russian Facebook accounts and bots. He warned that “Kremlin-backed advertisements are just one element of Vladimir Putin’s long-term goal of undermining democracies around the world.”

Paul Ryan Explains the Basics of Tax Reform

October 2, 2017 by Gail Nussbaum in Politics

Paul Ryan speaking at CPAC 2014 in Washington, DC. Courtesy Gage Skidmore.

Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, outlined the main points of the Republican proposal for tax reform, saying that if the Republican plan passes through Congress, taxpayers will be able to file their tax returns on a postcard.

“We’re going to double your standard deductions so you can file your taxes on a postcard,” the Wisconsin Republican said.

Ryan was delineating the plan for tax reform on “Face the Nation,” a CBS political news program. Ryan said that the middle class will be the main beneficiaries of the legislation, in addition to corporations.

“We’re going to take people who are in the 10 percent bracket and put a lot of that money in a zero percent tax bracket. We’re taking the 15 percent bracket down to 12 percent. We’re going to get rid of the marriage penalty. We’re going to increase the child tax credit.”

He added that incentives for buying a home, giving charity, and education will be maintained in the new tax code.

The plan will not increase the national debt, insisted Ryan.

“This will have to be a deficit-neutral tax bill,” he said, adding that “this tax code and this tax reform will give us faster economic growth. Faster economic growth helps raise the economy, which raises revenues. And that helps us tackle the deficit.”