Obama Skips GOP, Appoints Consumer Watchdog Cordray

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the sole reform to come out of the financial crisis that aims to deal with that fact.

By Jorge Rivas Jan 04, 2012

On Wednesday the White House announced President Barack Obama will use his executive power to bypass Congress and put Richard Cordray in charge at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Senate Republicans blocked Cordray’s confirmation last month but the President used his constitutional powers so Cordray can begin serving as CFPB director later this week.

"By using his Constitutional authority to bypass the unprecedented and hyperpartisan obstruction to any nominee to this post, President Obama is putting our nation’s financial well-being before politics," Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement. "This is the right choice for Americans who have been battered in this economy and bamboozled by Wall Street’s more unscrupulous practices, and we celebrate it."

Colorlines.com’s editor Kai Wright offers some context on why this appointment and the CFPB is important to people of color in the U.S.:

From payday lending to rapid refund services to for-profit colleges, there is an enormous and growing industry that preys upon poverty–and importantly, on people’s efforts to work their way out of it. Not coincidentally, they are overwhelmingly clumped in communities of color. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is the sole reform to come out of the financial crisis that aims to deal with that fact. The banks and broader financial sector have fought tooth and nail against it, including spending millions of dollars to lobby Congress to weaken the agency. Of course, the agency is already pretty weak–existing regulators have veto power over its decisions and the vast majority of its work will be in forcing disclosure, rather than stopping predatory practices. But it’s a start down the road of saying we have to care about consumers’ well being in an economy driven by dangerous financial products. We’ll see if the president’s decision stands up to court challenge.

"Republicans have been trying to make an end run around the law by denying this watchdog a leader," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement. "I support President Obama’s decision to make sure that in these tough economic times, middle-class families in Nevada and across the country will have the advocate they deserve to fight on their behalf against the reckless practices that denied so many their economic security."