It feels like it was ages ago when former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray (not to be confused with his doppelganger NBC page Kenneth Ellen Parcell) was announced as the White House’s nominee for director of the recently formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Now it’s almost time to cue some sort of dramatic music as the Senate is expected to thumbs-up-or-down the nomination on Thursday.
Though Cordray’s nomination has been given the OK by the Senate Banking Committee, some legislators have vowed to block his appointment unless there are major structural changes made to the CFPB.
Thus, our benevolent benefactors at Consumers Union have called on the Senate to confirm Cordray and stop all this posturing that is inhibiting the CFPB from doing its job.
“Richard Cordray has a solid record fighting for consumers and tough but fair enforcement of the law,” said Pamela Banks, senior counsel for Consumers Union. “Americans can’t afford the endless stalemate in the Senate over this nomination. It’s time for Congress to set aside politics and confirm Richard Cordray so the CFPB can use all of its tools to protect consumers.”
As Attorney General, Cordray recovered over $2 billion for consumers in Ohio who lost money and their financial security from shady Wall Street investments, deceptive financial products, and wrongful foreclosures. He has a reputation for bi-partisan efforts and his nomination has been endorsed by former Ohio Republican Senator Mike DeWine. In October, more than thirty state attorneys general — including ten Republicans — urged the Senate to confirm Cordray.
But without a director, the CFPB is not able to exercise its authority to oversee non-bank financial institutions like payday lenders, debt collectors, check cashers and certain mortgage lenders who target vulnerable consumers. In addition, the CFPB cannot exercise its authority to require model disclosure forms that ensure fees for financial services are disclosed fairly and accurately unless it has a director. Likewise, its ability to prohibit unfair, deceptive, or abusive financial practices is also limited without a director
“Millions of Americans are struggling to stay afloat because lax federal oversight allowed the financial industry to run amok and ruin the economy,” said Banks. “Now that consumers finally have a financial watchdog in Washington, some senators are still standing in the way of tough oversight and preventing the CFPB from doing its job. Richard Cordray should be confirmed so that the CFPB can use its full powers to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps.”
This sentiment was echoed by comments from Public Citizen’s Financial Policy Advocate, Bartlett Naylor: “Senators face a clear question of allegiance: Main Street or Wall Street. The 99 percent or the 1 percent. The real economy or the bonus-bloated banking gamblers. Congress created the CFPB to combat ‘unfair, deceptive and abusive’ lending practices. Senators supporting Wall Street are holding the nomination of the CFPB director hostage, insisting that the agency first be defunded and weakened. Widespread public support for a strong agency from the White House, to mayors, state attorneys general, hundreds of community organizations and even responsible bankers highlights the gravity of this vote. With the American economy struggling from banking abuses, senators cannot be excused for voting with Wall Street to raise campaign contributions.”