In a very fine investigative article in the Washington Examiner, Sean Higgins reports on “Obama’s Big Bank Slush Fund.” As part of their “settlements” with the feds over alleged misdeeds, big banks routinely agree to make donations to various “fair housing” outfits, to the tune of several hundred millions of dollars.
This past week, a unanimous panel of the D.C. Circuit (Judges Kavanaugh, Pillard, and Rogers—Judge Kavanaugh writing) held that State National Bank of Big Spring, Texas (“SNB”) may proceed with its lawsuit challenging the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s authority on various constitutional grounds.
Some time ago in these pages I’ve expressed my grudging admiration for my native country’s Weberian, bureaucratic legalism. The years I spent under that system should give me an advantage in a bureaucratizing America that’s still trying to domesticate latter-day cowboys. Nope. American-style bureaucracy is way more suffocating, stupid, and sinister.
The market for consumer credit has been subjected to an ever increasing amount of federal regulation since the 2008 crisis. The Dodd-Frank Act created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to intervene in consumer credit markets and protect us from the rapacious lenders who devour household income and place consumers in unmanageable levels of debt through stealth and manipulative business practices. The predictable results have been a marginal increase in the cost of credit and its decreasing availability to lower income consumers as the CFPB’s rules price them out of this market. Todd Zywicki, co-author of Consumer Credit and the American…
Moral outrage, when it is not fatuous, is politically potent. Vivid examples of politicians and commentators in full-throated, red-faced attacks against malignant motives and vicious political acts come easily to mind for all but the most apolitical. In some cases these outbursts are reactions against assaults on how things are or have been—on the decent order of things as inherited. But any honest observer must acknowledge that the more successful production of moral outrage has issued from those seeking fundamental transformation.
Over the weekend Elizabeth Warren, the Senator from Massachusetts and a former professor at Harvard Law School, outlined eleven propositions, dubbed by the National Journal as “eleven commandments” for progressives. Warren is a very bright leader of today’s progressivism. Her propositions provide a window on the future trajectory of the Democratic party and its approach to law, three aspects of which seem particularly notable:
1.Opposition to crony capitalism. Warren wants government to make sure the banking system and Internet are run for the benefit of the people not big corporations.
2.Use of the regulatory system rather than tax system. Nowhere does Warren expressly call for higher taxes. But she does endorse a slew of regulatory interventions—a higher minimum wage, stronger protections for unions and “equal pay” provisions for women.
3. A relentless focus on equality. In marriage, in pay, and in access to higher education and contraceptives paid for by the government.
If these are the tenets of future progressivism, friends of liberty need to sharpen their critique.
1. They need to co-opt the attack on crony capitalism.
The foremost political theory lecture series in not just Washington, D.C. but in the country presents a civil, thought-provoking, and above all honest debate over gay marriage—between two openly gay men.
Libertarian Justin Raimondo rejects gay marriage, arguing that heterosexual marriage is an oppressive norm that gay men should reject. Marriage is not just about two people but requires an official/clergy, a government license, and witnesses. He would bypass all this and allow erotic relations to flourish. Jonathan Rauch, a leading conservative public policy scholar, would strengthen marriage by extending that essential institution to gays. This refounded notion of marriage would make both gays and heterosexuals more aware of their mutual responsibilities.
Enacted swiftly in the wake of the financial crisis, the 2,319 pages of the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform legislation contain a thicket of rules overhauling the entire American financial system, creating a bevy of new regulatory entities. But that is only the tip of the iceberg—for even then, this does not include the thousands of rule-makings, studies, and enforcement actions that will be triggered by Dodd-Frank, nor does it consider all of the international implications of the legislation. Those looking for a roadmap that lays out the basic ideas that animate Dodd-Frank and its key provisions should turn to David Skeel’s book,…
To my constricted mind, elections are like meteorological events. They happen, at more or less regular intervals. People can’t stop talking about them. If I had a desire to participate actively in either, it wouldn’t make a difference; and so I never have and never will. I’d be grateful if electoral politics and the weather could stay in the background, where they belong; but if they intrude all too much I’ll move, uncomplainingly, to a place where they don’t . In short, I don’t have any actual opinion on Tuesday’s election or its outcome, only a few rain-drenched musings:
President Obama, we learned (again) in Wednesday night’s debate, deems the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 a great accomplishment in toto. Objection, Mr. President law-prof: lack of adequate foundation. You don’t know Dodd-Frank in its entirety or even in relevant part. Despite the prodigious length of the statute, its real-world content will depend on hundreds of mandated rulemaking proceeding in and by a dozen federal agencies. That job cannot be done: it would exceed the capacity of the regulatory agencies even if we quintupled their budgets and staff. And of the rules that the apparatus has managed to churn out, a good many have already been nixed by federal judges, Democrat and Republican appointees alike—for perfectly fine reasons, as Eugene Scalia has shown here.
President Romney, we also learned, would reform Dodd-Frank: keep the good parts, ding the parts that do harm and cost jobs. However, that cannot be done, either. By statutory design, the President of the United States has practically nothing to do with Dodd-Frank; in fact, he is affirmatively prohibited from meddling with its administration and those doing the administering. Changing that state of affairs would require 60 votes in the Senate, and good luck with that.