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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Meyerson: Worker and Consumer Rights Held Hostage by GOP

Harold Meyerson’s” WaPo column, “A judicial blow to fundamental rights” illuminates the GOP’s disturbingly successful campaign to eviscerate the rights of workers and consumers, most recently through the controversial decision of the all-Republican U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to invalidate President Obama’s recess appointments. For a better understanding of this shameful history, we encourage you to read all of Meyerson’s column. Here’s his concluding paragraph:

It’s critical to understand what has happened and how. By filibustering Obama’s appointees to these two agencies and by denying the president the long-established right to make recess appointments, a minority of senators and the three D.C. Circuit judges, respectively, have effectively removed the guts of the two landmark laws granting rights to employees in the workplace and to mortgage holders, small businesses and depositors in their dealings with their banks. The Supreme Court could still restore those rights by overturning the D.C. Circuit. The Senate could have kept this from happening had it abolished the filibuster procedures that give a minority the power to thwart majority rule — a long-overdue task from which it shrank, again, last week. In consequence, a Republican minority has managed to strip workers and consumers of fundamental legal rights.

As for the GOP’s motivation, Meyerson explains:

What Republicans really seek is a board without a quorum. Such a board would have no power, for instance, to intervene on behalf of workers illegally fired for union activity — 17,000 of whom brought complaints to the board in fiscal 2010 alone.
Last week’s ruling also imperils Obama’s recess appointment of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Republicans had filibustered Cordray, but many said that they weren’t objecting to Cordray so much as the bureau itself. They vowed not to confirm a director until the agency, whose structure had been laid out in the Dodd-Frank legislation, is placed under bipartisan control. Some lawmakers were troubled that the bureau would have as its sole charge the welfare of consumers, rather than balancing consumers’ interests and those of banks. In essence, they sought a house divided against itself — in the hope that over time, it could not stand.

Meyerson’s point makes it even harder to understand what, if anything, the Reid-McConnell filibuster agreement does to help Democrats return the Senate to a semblance of majority rule.

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