President Obama signaled strongly on Monday that he will fight Republican efforts to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, created last year as part of the Dodd-Frank financial-reform bill, vowing to battle both for the agency and his choice to head it, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.
The president’s warning was issued during his Rose Garden announcement that he is nominating Cordray to head CFPB, which is set to begin operations next week.
Declaring that “this bureau matters,” Obama said he is ready to stand up to what he called “an army of lobbyists and lawyers right now working to water down the protections and the reforms that we passed” and their “allies in Congress who are trying to undo the progress that we’ve made. We’re not going to let that happen.”
He cast the new agency as a response to the financial crash of 2008, which, he said, was “not the result of normal economic cycles or just a run of bad luck.” Instead, he blamed abuses and a “lack of smart regulations.” He added, “We’re not going to just 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 the protections that they deserve.”
Obama was joined in the Rose Garden by Cordray, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and Elizabeth Warren, the former Harvard professor who first conceived the agency and has spent the last year setting it up. Liberals had pushed hard for Warren to be named the director, but she was strongly opposed by Republicans in Congress and was viewed by the White House as unconfirmable. The president alluded to that opposition but praised her toughness and called her “perhaps the leading voice in our country on behalf of consumers.”
This article appears in the July 18, 2011 edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.