Despite Republicans' best efforts to block the President from even making recess appointments by pretending they haven't adjourned for the holiday recess, President Obama appointed his nominee, Richard Cordray to head the CFPB. This is a key appointment, because without Cordray (or someone) at the helm, CFPB could not undertake the regulation of key industries like payday lending and other predatory lenders which are largely unregulated right now.
Predictably, Republicans whined and fumed, but the complaint that it's a departure from long-standing precedent is utter nonsense when Republicans are attempting to nullify legislation which was passed by Congress and signed into law by the President.
This is a major step forward for all of us, especially those of us who are at the mercy of the banks and other finance companies which run rampant with regularity. Elizabeth Warren has put together a congratulatory card for Cordray on her campaign website, signaling her approval of his recess appointment and advancement of the CFPB, which wouldn't exist if it were not for her pushing Congress to do it.
One of the best moments in his announcement speech was where he ridiculed Republicans for suggesting the 2008 financial meltdown was the result of overregulation and excessive oversight. The transcript is below:
Today I’m appointing Richard as America’s consumer watchdog. That means he’ll be in charge of one thing: looking out for the best interests of American consumers. His job will be to protect families like yours from the abuses of the financial industry. His job will be to make sure you’ve got all the information you need to make important financial decisions. Right away, he’ll start working to make sure millions of Americans are treated fairly by mortgage brokers, payday lenders and debt collectors. In fact, just this week, his agency is opening up a simple, 1-800 number you can call to make sure you’re getting a fair deal on your mortgage, and hold banks and brokers accountable if you’re not.
I nominated Richard for this job last summer. And yet, for almost half a year, Republicans in the Senate have blocked his confirmation. They’ve refused to even give Richard and up-or-down vote. It’s not because he’s unqualified. There is no question that Richard is the right person for this job. He’s got support from Democrats and Republicans. A majority of Attorneys General from both parties across the country have called for Richard to be confirmed. Your local Members of Congress who are here today – they support him. He has the support of a majority in the Senate. Everyone agrees that he’s more than qualified.
The only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don’t agree with the law setting up the consumer watchdog. They want to weaken it. Well that makes no sense at all. Does anyone think the reason we got in such a financial mess was because of too much oversight? Of course not. We shouldn’t be weakening oversight and accountability. We should be strengthening it – especially when it comes to looking out for families like yours. Financial firms have armies of lobbyists in Washington looking out for their interests. It’s time someone fought for you, too.
Update: Speaker Boehner at least admits Republicans were engaging in nullification by filibuster.