Mitch McConnell is winning the long game

McConnell says:

The largest tax reduction in 31 years has contributed to the best economy in 18 years. Defense spending is up, many Dodd-Frank banking rules and the Obamacare individual mandate have been repealed. Drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, blocked for 38 years, has been approved, as has a reconfigured National Labor Relations Board, a source of much Obama administration mischief. The Congressional Review Act, under which Congress can disapprove many regulations issued by federal agencies, has been used 19 times since it was enacted in 1996 — 18 of them during this Congress.

.. This, says McConnell, constitutes the best 18 months of center-right governance in his Senate career, which began when Ronald Reagan’s second term did. There also are the judges.

.. By preventing a vote on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland

.. McConnell ended the requirement of a supermajority to stop filibusters of Supreme Court nominees

.. To prevent Republicans from reciprocating with filibusters against Obama’s packing-by-enlargement of the nation’s second-most-important court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Democrats changed Senate rules to bar filibusters of judicial nominees other than those for the Supreme Court. McConnell removed that pointless exemption to make possible the confirmation of Neil M. Gorsuch.

.. But without filibusters of legislation, he says, the nation might have socialized medicine, guaranteed government jobs, card-check workplace unionization, a ban on right-to-work laws, and other afflictions.

.. since popular election of senators began in 1914, Republicans have never had more than 60 senators.

.. Almost 30 years after the end of his presidency, Reagan still shapes events because of his nomination of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who often has been 20 percent of a court majority. Three decades from now, McConnell will be shaping the nation through judges who today are in their 40s, some of whom might be destined to be Gorsuch’s colleagues. This is the long game.

Elizabeth Warren’s Sad Sick Joke

It was no wonder the public tuned out the CFPB narrative that Democrats have repeated since they controlled Congress and the White House and passed the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which created the bureau. The plot never changes — before Cordray’s resignation, Republicans opposed the bureau because it kept the financial industry honest; now they restrain the CFPB so businesses can cheat consumers.

.. The Dodd-Frank Act forbids the Federal Trade Commission and the CFPB from conducting independent inquiries into the same matter. Cordray may have authorized an investigation of the Equifax data breach, but the FTC ended up conducting the full-scale probe.

.. Cordray and Warren, who helped draft the law, surely recognized Rucker’s sleight-of-hand. Nevertheless, the senator tweeted, “Another middle finger from @MickMulvaneyOMB to consumers: he’s killed the @CFPB’s probe into the #EquifaxBreach.”

.. Since 2010, Republicans have objected to the lack of legislative and executive checks on a regulator with so much impact on the economy.

.. Democrats, confident there would never be a Republican director, characterized the near-absolute power as independence from political influence.

.. Ironically, the once-secretive CFPB has been more transparent since Mulvaney throttled its External Affairs Division, the propaganda machine Warren created in 2010 while leading the agency’s yearlong start-up process as a presidential adviser.

.. The division’s copious press releases have been replaced by more-informative leaks from the bureau’s overwhelmingly Democratic employees. Contrary to the stale narrative that liberals craft from the leaks, the acting director does not hate consumer protection; he just hates the CFPB’s structure, which he once described as “a joke . . . in a sad, sick way.” Warren’s obstinacy has only allowed him to validate the now-famous comment and delight in the bully’s comeuppance.

.. Mulvaney invited a Daily Caller reporter to the CFPB headquarters Warren had procured in 2011. Cordray’s $124 million renovation of the Brutalist eyesore came to symbolize the bureau’s elitist liberal entitlement. The reporter was escorted through a 2,660-square-foot athletic facility with two huge locker rooms, offices with electric height-adjustable workstations, a library with a sofa and lounge chairs but few books, a roof deck with spectacular views and motorized cantilevered umbrellas, and a courtyard with lavish fountains. The images recalled the familiar spectacle of triumphant soldiers touring a deposed dictator’s opulent palace.

.. But exposing his predecessor’s sins is only Mulvaney’s jab. His knockout punch is demonstrating that the CFPB’s structure allows its director to behave like the Republican stereotype.

.. Unlike other Trump nominees who renounced previous calls to eliminate the agencies they were tapped to lead, Mulvaney told reporters he was not shutting the CFPB down because the law did not permit him to do so. In his introduction to the agency’s five-year strategic plan he declared that “we have committed to fulfill the Bureau’s statutory responsibilities, but go no further.”

.. He requested no funding from the Fed for the first three months of 2018 and instead financed the CFPB’s operations by draining its stockpiled reserves, a likely prelude to agency layoffs.

.. Rather than defend his policies, Mulvaney reminded his critics: “I am the judge, I am the jury, and I am the executioner in some of these investigations, and that is completely wrong. . . . If you don’t like it, talk to the person who wrote the statute.”

.. Her attempt to shame Republicans is laughable — Democrats remained silent for five years while Cordray proved that Congress is powerless to rein in the director.
.. Mulvaney is not, as Warren writes, “turning the CFPB into a politicized rogue agency.” He is showing Democrats that it will continue to be one unless they help restructure it.

Trump Couple, Now White House Employees, Can’t Escape Conflict Laws

Donald Trump can evade legal responsibility even if the conflicts of interest remain,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a liberal nonprofit group. “His daughter and son-in-law don’t have that escape hatch.”

Mr. Kushner did resign from more than 200 positions in the partnerships and limited liability companies that make up the family-run multibillion-dollar real estate business. But the financial disclosure report shows that Mr. Kushner will remain a beneficiary of most of those same entities.

.. the Kushner Companies’ deals have become a magnet for opaque foreign money — often from parts of the world that present thorny policy questions, such as China, where Mr. Kushner’s company has actively sought investors, as well as the Middle East and Russia.

.. Mr. Kushner, by contrast, continues to hold multimillion-dollar lines of credit from institutions such as Citigroup and Deutsche Bank, while companies he is still a beneficiary of have billions of dollars in additional loans from heavily regulated institutions.

.. “The one thing Jared really ought to stay completely away from is anything having to do with Dodd-Frank,”

.. Even Mr. Bannon’s aide Julia Hahn, who is 25, reported investments worth between $1 million and $2.1 million

.. Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, had assets worth between $11 million and $44 million.

Steve Eisman of ‘The Big Short’ fame says the stock market is entering a ‘golden age’ for banks

But Eisman, who works at money manager Neuberger Berman, says the era of Trump will be a “golden age” for the banking sector. “I think over the next couple of years there will be more leverage, and this will be a golden age of investing in financial stocks,” he told CNBC during an interview early Monday in New York.

He said he was “as long as he could be” in the banking sector.

.. She said she only rates two sectors overweight (that’s code for buy among Wall Street researchers), and those are financials and technology.

..  Other market participants also have warned that rapidly rising interest rates may result in loan losses in other areas of banks’ balance sheets, including in auto lending.