Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter used the House Financial Services Committee hearing Tuesday to draw attention to his Denver Broncos cap.
He left the hearing room and ostentatiously walked back in. The cap was unmissable, not just because it was bright orange but also because it swallowed up Perlmutter’s head.
He took the cap off, made sure to lay it visibly on his desk, then put it back on. Perlmutter doesn’t overwhelm with his physical presence, but he seemed to be managing an extra inch or two of height to make sure all the cameras would notice. When his five minutes of question time arrived, Perlmutter slid into the conveniently vacated ranking member’s chair, orange cap donned. Then it was doffed and perched over the front of his desk.
If Peyton Manning can move the ball half as far as Perlmutter moved that Broncos cap, Denver will do well in this weekend’s Super Bowl.
The committee was hearing from Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency born in the aftermath of the financial crisis. Republicans think the CFPB is writing ridiculous regulations to make sure money never flows from a bank or financial institution to a borrower or consumer.
The Democrats, being on the opposite side, therefore think the CFPB is writing sensible regulations to make sure people who desperately need credit don’t get it because they wouldn’t be able to pay it back.
With so much at stake, Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, oddly tried to make hay from the cost of renovating the CFPB’s offices. Even Republicans found that a lame line of criticism of an agency they think is destroying commerce around the country. North Carolina Republican Patrick T. McHenry echoed Hensarling, but McHenry always looks like he’s giving the final kick after somebody bigger has beaten the victim to a pulp.
New Mexico Republican Steve Pearce came armed with the fire and brimstone suitable for an agency allegedly bringing commerce to a halt. “You are going to choke down the small rural areas,” he told Cordray. “It is a war on the poor that is being conducted by you and this administration." Oh, and by the way, all that data the CFPB is collecting can be used for political campaigns, he said.
Cordray isn’t like most administration witnesses. He kept responding to comments with phrases like “unreasoned, irrational fear,” “No, that is not correct,” “I couldn’t disagree more,” “I fundamentally reject that categorization,” “There was nothing unfair about the bulletin we put out.” To Pearce, he said, “That is just wild allegation,” and a “completely unfounded suggestion.”
Cordray sounds contrary even when he is conciliatory. “I do commit to that,” he said at one point. “I believe I’ve committed to it here today." Which sounds like, “Congressman, if you had been paying attention, you might have heard me say that already.”
Maybe they were keeping their eye on Perlmutter’s cap.