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Wall Street Succeeds at Torpedoing Warren; Senate Should Confirm Obama Pick for Consumer Financial Agency

July 18, 2011 

Wall Street Succeeds at Torpedoing Warren; Senate Should Confirm Obama Pick for Consumer Financial Agency

Statement by Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Elizabeth Warren was the obvious best choice to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Wall Street and the Big Banks did not want her to get the job.

President Barack Obama decided to succumb to those interests, rather than fight for the American people.

Warren originated the idea of the CFPB. She was a tireless advocate for its inclusion in Wall Street reform legislation, and creation of the bureau is the signal achievement of that legislation. She has done an excellent job leading the team that is setting up the agency. She knows the issues better than anyone. She is an unparalleled communicator about the importance of protecting consumers from predatory financial interests.

Elizabeth Warren should be running the CFPB, and the only reason she is not is because of the financial lobby – and the Obama administration’s decision not to stand up to it.

Richard Cordray, the nominee to head the CFPB, has firsthand experience taking on financial industry wrongdoers and a distinguished record of defending consumer interests. Public Citizen will work hard to support him in running the most effective agency possible. 

The Senate should confirm Cordray quickly so that he can use the CFPB’s full powers to crack down on the predatory practices – the rip-offs, hidden fees, deceptive advertising and much more – that are far too prevalent in the financial industry, and which played such a central role in the housing bubble and financial crash. It’s the CFPB’s job to make sure banks and financial companies are serving consumers, not systematically picking their pockets.

If the Senate will not confirm Cordray, President Obama should appoint him to head the agency during a Senate recess.
Forty-four Senate Republicans have said that they will not confirm anyone to the position until the agency is restructured in ways that would undermine its authority to protect consumers. Congressional Republicans also have indicated they would block a recess appointment, though Public Citizen has pointed out that they do not have this power, as a matter of constitutional law.