President Obama today formally nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to be the first head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau while offering high praise for Elizabeth Warren, who was passed over to lead the agency she helped create.
“Long before the financial crisis, Elizabeth was sounding the alarm on predatory lending and the financial pressures on middle-class families. And in the years since, she's become perhaps the leading voice in our country on behalf of consumers,” Obama said this afternoon in the Rose Garden. “And let's face it. She’s done it while facing some very tough opposition and drawing a fair amount of heat. Fortunately, she's very tough, and that's why I asked Elizabeth Warren to set up this new bureau.”
While seemingly acknowledging that Warren would not win Senate confirmation, Obama made clear that she hand-picked Cordray for the job. “I asked Elizabeth to find the best possible choice for director of the bureau, and that's who we found in Richard Cordray. Richard was one of the first people that Elizabeth recruited, and he's helped stand up the bureau's enforcement division over the past six months,” he said.
Obama touted Cordray’s record as Ohio’s attorney general and treasurer and boasted that he has successfully worked “across the ideological spectrum.” The president also joked that Cordray was a five-time Jeopardy champion and that “all his answers at his confirmation hearings will be in the form of a question.”
Up on the Hill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY., today repeated Senate Republicans opposition to his, or any nomination, until there are legislative fixes to the bureau.
“Senate Republicans still aren't interested in approving anyone to the position until the president agrees to make this massive new government bureaucracy more accountable and transparent to the American people,” McConnell said from the Senate floor today.
Forty-four Republican senators have signed a letter to the president stating "we will not support the consideration of any nominee regardless of party affiliation to be the CFPN director until the structure of the consumer financial protection bureau is reformed."
McConnell said that the bureau will “only multiply the kind of countless, burdensome regulations that are holding our economy back right now and that it will have countless unintended consequences for individuals and small businesses that constrict credit, stifle growth, and destroy jobs.”
Today the president reiterated the need for a consolidated consumer watchdog agency and vowed to fight any efforts to block its work. “I will fight any efforts to repeal or undermine the important changes that we passed, and we are going to stand up this bureau and make sure it is doing the right thing for middle-class families all across the country,” he said.
“The fact is, the financial crisis and the recession were not the result of normal economic cycles or just a run of bad luck. They were abuses, and there was a lack of smart regulations. So we're not just going to shrug our shoulders and hope it doesn't happen again. We're not going to go back to the status quo where consumers couldn't count on getting protections that they deserved. We're not going to go back to a time when our whole economy was vulnerable to a massive financial crisis,” Obama said.