A little over a year ago, the President overcame the fierce lobbying of the financial industry and Republican obstruction and signed into law Wall Street Reform, which included the strongest consumer protections in history, critical reforms to rein in Wall Street and protections against another financial crisis. But as he said at the time, the promise of this legislation would only be realized if we implemented the law in a way that truly reformed our financial system, making sure that banks are competing based on the service they provide to consumers, not on the hidden fees they can charge or the non-transparent practices they can get away with.
Today, the Senate Banking Committee will take a vote that is critical to implementing this law so that it fully protects consumers from hidden fees and abusive practices: the committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination of Richard Cordray to become the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB was created as part of Wall Street reform to enforce consumer protections.
Today’s vote, and the subsequent vote by the full Senate to confirm Richard Cordray, is so important because without a director the CFPB is hamstrung in its ability to protect consumers. Without a director, the CFPB will be unable to ensure that banks, debt collectors, private student loan providers and payday loan providers are properly supervised and that consumers are not put at risk of falling prey to the same kinds of abusive practices that helped cause the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
But despite these important protections, Senate Republicans have pledged to oppose this nomination, choosing to support special interests at the expense of consumers. This move is just the latest in a string of efforts by Congressional Republicans to defund, delay and dismantle President Obama’s Wall Street Reform law.
Republicans on the Committee have admitted that their opposition has nothing to do with Cordray’s credentials. He is the former Attorney General and Treasurer of Ohio with a solid track record of cracking down on companies that break the rules while supporting companies that play by them. Throughout his career, Cordray has tackled problems by partnering with others – regardless of party affiliation or ideology – to craft pragmatic and sensible solutions. He addressed Ohio’s foreclosure crisis head-on with his “Save Our Homes” initiative working with bankers, businesses, nonprofits, and government officials to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes. And he has been endorsed by elected officials on both sides of the aisle, consumer advocates and business leaders alike and editorial boards across the country. Despite his record as a pragmatic problem solver, Senate Republicans are opposing his nomination, standing with the financial industry and against the veterans, homeowners and middle class families that the CFPB is charged with protecting.
We can’t afford to go back to a system where consumers were put at risk by those who gamed the system, and our whole economy was vulnerable to a massive financial crisis. That’s why reform matters. That’s why the CFPB matters. And President Obama will fight efforts to repeal or undermine these important changes. It’s time for Richard Cordray to be confirmed so that the CFPB can do its job and fully protect consumers.