Political Notebook

Catholic colleges’ faculty chide Boehner

May 12, 2011

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WASHINGTON — Three days before House Speaker John A. Boehner is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Catholic University, dozens of faculty at Catholic colleges — including many from the university — have written to the Catholic speaker, criticizing him for having a record “among the worst in Congress’’ on protecting the poor.

The letter, which was released yesterday, was organized by faculty at Catholic University, the national university of the Catholic Church located in Washington, D.C.

The letter does not protest the Ohio Republican’s visit or ask the school to rescind its invitation but urges him to “reawaken your familiarity’’ with church teaching on the subject of poverty.

It focuses on the 2012 budget Boehner is shepherding, criticizing it for cuts it says would hurt the poor and are “particularly cruel to pregnant women and children.’’

Of the nearly 80 signers, about 30 are from Catholic University, including faculty from the schools of law, nursing, history, and theology.

Neither Catholic University nor the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the church’s official arm in the country, responded immediately to requests for comment yesterday. — WASHINGTON POST

Consumer agency recess naming likely, Frank says
WASHINGTON — Representative Barney Frank said yesterday that he expects President Obama to bypass Congress and use a recess appointment to install the director of the new consumer protection agency for financial products.

The prediction follows a threat from Senate Republicans last week that they will block the confirmation of any director unless several measures to limit the agency’s power are instituted.

Frank said such measures would allow Republicans to cripple the agency’s ability to protect consumers and possibly defund it altogether, eliminating one of the cornerstones of the financial regulation overhaul law passed last year. The Newton Democrat said they were “acting like thugs’’ and forcing Obama to bypass the confirmation process.

“I think what they’ve done, frankly, is free the president now to pay them no attention,’’ said Frank said, who spearheaded passage of the law in the House.

Forty-four senators signed a letter to Obama last week asking that the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau be run by a panel rather than a single director, be overseen more strictly by banking regulators, and have its budget subject to congressional approval. The agency is set to open on July 21.

Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts did not sign the letter.

A White House spokesman declined to address Frank’s prediction. “The president is considering a number of candidates for the position of director, but no decisions have been made,’’ said Matt Lehrich.

One of the leading candidates for the post has been Harvard University professor Elizabeth Warren, whom Obama tapped as a special assistant last year to oversee creation of the agency.

White House officials did not appoint her director at the time because they said they did not believe she could win confirmation in the Senate.

Also yesterday, the Treasury Department said Sendhil Mullainathan, a Harvard economics professor, will join the agency as assistant director of research. — DONOVAN SLACK

Gingrich makes candidacy for president official
ATLANTA — Republican Newt Gingrich said yesterday that he is running for president because his experience has prepared him to return America “to hope and opportunity.’’

In a Twitter post, the former House speaker made official what has been an open secret for months: “Today I am announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.’’ He cites his work with President Reagan and his time as speaker, when he says he led the fight to balance the budget and reform welfare. — ASSOCIATED PRESS