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Romney, Santorum bash Obama recess appointment. Why that could backfire.

The Obama administration argues that the recess appointment is necessary so the CFPB can perform its duties despite Republican obstructionism. Republicans may challenge the president in court.

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It also risks playing into Obama's hands politically, at least when it comes to the CFPB. The Obama campaign is pinning its hopes in part on portraying the president as fighting for the middle class, while Republicans cater to allies in big business and on Wall Street.

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Republican opposition to the Cordray appointment is centered not on the man himself (a former attorney general of Ohio) but on the very concept of the CFPB, a new agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reforms enacted in 2010.

Calling the agency an example of over-regulation that can stifle the economy, Republicans have resisted its launch. Romney is among GOP candidates calling for repeal of the Dodd-Frank Act.

That position could open Romney and Republicans to attack from Democrats for their own form of cronyism – allying with Wall Street firms that would like to avoid new layers of regulation. 

In Romney's public statement on the issue Wednesday, the former Massachusetts governor called the new consumer agency "perhaps the most powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy in the history of our nation.... Sadly, instead of focusing on economic growth, [Obama] is once again focusing on creating more regulation, more government, and more Washington gridlock.”

Santorum's comment also came Wednesday. Calling the recess appointments "scary," the former US Senator from Pennsylvania said the Senate "should go and even take the president to court."

A court case could hinge on whether the Senate was technically in recess when Obama made the moves. After holding pro forma sessions every third day, lawmakers can argue they were not in recess.

In his new South Carolina ad, Romney accuses "union stooges" at the NLRB under Obama of making decisions that are motivated by politics rather than worker interests. It's an important issue in a state where the board was, until recently, trying to stop Boeing from setting up a new plant in South Carolina.

The board's general counsel argued that Boeing was illegally retaliating against its union workers by stating that access to non-union labor was a factor in the location of the new plant.

The NLRB recently backed off its legal complaint after Boeing reached an agreement with the main union representing its workers in other parts of the country.

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