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January 05, 2012 4:30 PM Cordray gets to work

By Steve Benen

Now that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a director, it can get to work on some long-overdue priorities. For America’s middle class, that’s terrific news.

The new director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday outlined a vigorous oversight and enforcement agenda, saying that companies that take unfair advantage of consumers of financial products will face “real consequences.”

The director, Richard Cordray, who was appointed to the post Wednesday by President Obama, encouraged consumers to contact the agency with their stories and complaints about banks, payday lenders and other financial institutions that they feel have sold deceptive products or engaged in abusive behavior.

“The consumer bureau will make clear that there are real consequences to breaking the law,” Mr. Cordray, who had been in charge of enforcement at the agency, said in remarks prepared for at a speech at the Brookings Institution.

“We have given informants and whistle-blowers direct access to us,” he said. “We took over a number of investigations from other agencies in July, and we are pursuing some investigations jointly with them. We have also started our own investigations. Some may be resolved through cooperative efforts to correct problems. Others may require enforcement actions to stop illegal behavior.”

It’s a reminder that, for all the Republican talk about pro-forma sessions and the technical definitions of “recess,” the CFPB is empowered to do some fantastic work on behalf of Americans who need the support.

And this work couldn’t get underway so long as the Republicans’ 19th-century nullification strategy continued.

“Many subprime loans during the housing bubble were made by nonbank mortgage brokers,” he added. “Since most of these businesses are not used to any federal oversight, our new supervision program may be a challenge for them. But we must establish clear standards of conduct so that all financial providers play by the rules.”

Mr. Cordray asked consumers to contact the agency directly through its Web site, consumerfinance.gov. “Our team is taking complaints about credit cards and mortgages, with other products to be added as we move forward,” he said. “Our work will support the honest businesses in financial markets against those who deceive consumers or otherwise break the law.”

I’ll leave it to others to explain why Republicans are siding with predatory lenders and industry excesses, rather than Cordray’s non-partisan work.

But even putting the politics aside, can we just pause for a moment to note that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a really good idea? Over the last several months, even I got so caught up in the Republican obstructionist tactics, and the desperation with which the GOP tried to weaken the agency, it was easy to lose sight of just how significant it is to have a bureau like this in place.

President Obama’s political team put together this video a while back for those who might like a refresher on what this initiative is all about.

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration in the slightest to consider this one of the best and most progressive breakthroughs of the Obama presidency.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

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  • sick-n-effn-tired. on January 05, 2012 4:49 PM:

    And the payday lenders are the worst of the lot preying on the most vulnerable. In years gone by they would have all been arrested for usury . They make the old time loan sharks look like Mother Theresa.
    Follow the money from these bandits and thieves right to your local congress critter

  • T2 on January 05, 2012 4:57 PM:

    MSNBC had some wack GOPer Congressman on today just going berserk over the "recess" appointment....horrible trangression to the Constitution, etc. ....Andrea Michell said "come on congressman, you were only in session for three seconds..." For once, props to her. He just started babblying about something Robert Byrd did years ago.
    I think Obama totally outfoxed the GOP...doing this in the middle of their transition to New Hampshire...with the candidates much more intent on knifing each other than griping about the Cordray thing.

  • smartalek on January 05, 2012 5:06 PM:

    Don't forget "Buy-Here-Pay-Here" car dealerships, which have apparently been able to sneak thru holes in the regulatory safety-net:
    to the financial regulatory agencies, they say they're auto dealers, while to the auto-dealer regulators (where there are any), they say they're consumer-lending enterprises.
    You might notice the similarity to the gambit "4th-Branch Cheney" used to avoid complying with regulations and statutes he found inconvenient.
    Funny thing how the "moral absolutists" of the right seem to have no problems with such chicanery.
    One source for anyone who wants to learn more about this:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/oct/30/business/la-fi-buy-here-pay-here-part1-storyb

    Captcha: "Origicat Mraz" -- (as best as I can make out over the tu-tone bkgd)but with an acute accent over the "a"

  • exlibra on January 05, 2012 7:48 PM:

    In addition to the article, linked by Benen (in the Business section of the NYT, there were two others on the same subject, in the front (A) section of the same paper, one of them starting right on the front page.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/05/us/politics/richard-cordray-named-consumer-chief-in-recess-appointment.html?ref=todayspaper

    After the required phrases such as "[...]a provocative opening salvo in Mr. Obamaís re-election strategy of demonizing Congress.",we come to the bottom of the column, just before the "Continued on Page A16", we get this little gem:

    "Putting Mr. Cordray in place grants the agency the standing to move ahead with new regulation of varied financial entities, authority it has lacked in the absence of a director since its creation in July 2010."

    Eighteen months. Eighteen effing months the effing Republican SOBs have been dragging their effing elephantine feet, obstructing every which way they could, and refusing their "consent". And now they're crying like a baby whose diaper is 24hrs overdue for changing. If it were up to me, I'd feed them castor oil till they got rid of all the shit they got in them, the bastards.

    "mummine Judas". Indeed, Mum would happily strap a mine to the bottom of every one of the Judases, who promise to work for us, but end up licking the floor clean after the Kochroaches.

  • TCinLA on January 05, 2012 8:02 PM:

    Iíll leave it to others to explain why Republicans are siding with predatory lenders and industry excesses

    Because Republicans are scumbags?????

    Because they're con men?????

    Because they're criminals?

    Because they're Southern traitors?

    The list of possibilities is endless.

  • SYSPROG on January 05, 2012 8:11 PM:

    T2? It was John Barrasso from Wyoming...the biggest suck ass the Republicans ever elected. He 'used' to be a pro-choice moderate in the 90's but has embraced far right wing nuttery with a vengence. He is a jerk and relatively new to the Senate.


    captcha=poodyn scattered

    Indeed.

  • SYSPROG on January 05, 2012 8:15 PM:

    T2? It was John Barrasso from Wyoming...the biggest suck ass the Republicans ever elected. He 'used' to be a pro-choice moderate in the 90's but has embraced far right wing nuttery with a vengence. He is a jerk and relatively new to the Senate.


    captcha=poodyn scattered

    Indeed.

  • pea on January 05, 2012 8:41 PM:

    This could also help re-elect Obama (and Eliz Warren) if/when egregious cases come to light and are well publicized, concretely illustrating to voters how the 99%, esp the lower quartile, are not "irresponsible" as portrayed by the 1% shills, but in fact are targeted and exploited by corporations, bankers, etc. You go Cordray!

  • schtick on January 05, 2012 10:52 PM:

    When I decide to invest in a product or company and I'm in the research mode before spending my money, I always google (product) sucks.com. It's amazing the things you find there and some people actually try to steer you to solutions, depending on your state residence of course.
    Some of it I'm dubious about, but then, the way businesses are run today to screw the consumer, I'm apt to give the posters the benefit of their posts. Insurance companies are a hoot to look up that way. I discovered "You are in bad hands with Allstate" and the woman that began that site had it hacked. I'm sure Allstate had nothing to do with it. "cough"bullshit"cough"
    I can't wait to see people pointed to CFPB for complaints against companies trying to screw them.

    crapcha....Preparative ftedBuo....I bet

  • Cybrguy on January 05, 2012 11:34 PM:

    I am so very pleased that the President finally got fed up enough to do this recess appointment. It was WAY TO LONG in coming, but will be a great help to the American people going forward. It will also go a long way is showing how damaging a rethuglican administration would be, and will provide great help in keeping the Senate and taking back the House.
    Thank you Mr President, and don't forget to cash my check.

  • Texas Aggie on January 06, 2012 12:24 AM:

    Something I read about recently that wasn't mentioned is the collection agencies who file court charges against creditors and then don't tell them, so they aren't present and lose. Then a warrant for their arrest is issued.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on January 06, 2012 10:03 AM:

    @pea:

    His campaign is already all over this appointment. The Obama Campaign definitely spammed my inbox (not that I mind, I'd just prefer "spammy-type" emails to go to my other email account that I created exclusively for spam. Just can't figure out how to unsubscribe and switch it at the campaign website...)

    They did pretty good job of laying out Obama's case, for the Obama constituents at least. But I think they could have spiced it up with few expletives just for the fun of it. Now they need to make sure MSM picks up this narrative:

    So today the President appointed former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For months, Senate Republicans -- with Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum right behind them -- have fought this bureau every step of the way, and their latest strategy is to refuse to allow even an up-or-down vote on this nomination.

    The issue isn't his qualifications: Cordray has bipartisan support from elected officials across the country and a clear majority of the Senate behind him. They won't allow a confirmation vote on any director -- because they don't want the agency to exist at all.

    We can't afford to continue allowing Wall Street to write its own rules. But today's action by the President is already coming under partisan attack, which we expect to intensify in the days to come.


    ...

    But Mitt Romney apparently doesn't think consumers deserve any protection at all from predatory lenders and other bad actors. His plan to fix the economy is simply to deregulate it. His proposal for the housing market is to let it "hit the bottom" so that investors can come in and make a quick buck.

    The President thinks we need a cop on the beat preventing the reckless behavior that helped cause the financial crisis and so many problems for middle-class families in the first place.

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