A tourist watching the hippies, freaks and beatniks — people I affectionately call “mutants” — at Occupy Wall Street would have to think that Halloween had come early to New York City this year. Yet, these protesters have achieved a degree of legitimacy thanks in part to a hearty embrace from President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and union bosses.
Despite the protesters’ anti-Semitic rants and acts of vandalism, the Democratic establishment has hooked its “hope wagon” up to these left-wing anarchists in an attempt to change the dynamics of the 2012 election. No Democrat can ask Reagan’s famous question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” because the answer would be a resounding “no.”
It’s so bad that if the 2012 election is about Barack Obama and the results of his economic policies, even Christine O’Donnell will stand a chance of defeating the president. But if the country shifts the blame to Wall Street, he might survive. That’s the goal.
So, for a president who has blamed everything from ATMs to tsunamis for the bad economy, Occupy Wall Street is his blame-shifting Hail Mary pass.
But the “occupiers” aren’t just looking to change Obama’s political fortunes; they have demands. Many of those demands are related to the use of other people’s money and generated by a hatred of Wall Street and capitalism itself. Of course, the protesters’ anger is misplaced and should be directed at government policies holding the economy back rather than capitalism. They readily blame those “bailed out” but seem to harbor no ill will toward those who actually gave them our money.
But as ridiculous as some of their demands are, the scary fact of the matter is that they might soon have a government agency empowered to unilaterally implement them: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Created by the failed Dodd-Frank “financial reform” legislation of 2010, the law that gave us the lovely $5 per month Bank of America debit card fee, the bureau was ostensibly intended to protect consumers from the onslaught of business. The director was given enormous power to regulate the economy with almost no oversight. Over 100,000 businesses could fall within the bureau’s jurisdiction.
But the bureau can’t get started until the Senate confirms a director. And thankfully, Republicans, led by Sen. Richard Shelby, are trying to protect consumers, the Constitution and the economy. They have held up the nomination in order to rein in the power of the bureau’s director.
Our country’s founders never envisioned giving an unelected bureaucrat the power to regulate the economy for five years without oversight from the people. But, as part of his blame-shifting plan, the president continues to demand that the Senate confirm Richard Cordray, his nominee to head the CFPB.
The bureau’s structural issues aside, Cordray is a threat to liberty. He’s a Naderite regulator whose political playbook comes right from the Occupy Wall Street crowd. He’s a long-time ally of trial lawyers who believes a strong regulator is needed to protect us from “burdensome” market forces and evil businessmen.
So, while the president’s re-election now rests upon the ability of a few radical ’60s retreads and their modern-day drones to mislead the American people about the causes of our current economic mess, the job of stopping one lone radical from unilaterally regulating the economy rests with Senate Republicans. The radicals have no problem using police cars as toilets to drive their points home. Hopefully the Republicans will be equally committed, if significantly more civilized, in their fight to uphold our liberties and the Constitution.
Derek Hunter is a Washington-based writer and consultant. He can be stalked on Twitter @derekahunter