Obama Appoints Elizabeth Warren Ally Richard Cordray to Head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Elizabeth Warren was eliminated as a potential head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau late Friday night, a move that disappointed and, frankly, inspired fear in her greatest advocates. But while it's still a shame to see her go, there may be some hope: today it was announced that Obama has appointed Richard Cordray, one of Warren's allies and another consumer advocate, to the position. ">With her track record of standing up to Wall Street and fighting for consumers, Elizabeth Warren was the best qualified to lead this bureau that she conceived -- and we imagine Richard Cordray would agree," said  Stephanie Taylor, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in a statement. "That said, Rich Cordray has been a strong ally of Elizabeth Warren's and we hope he will continue her legacy of holding Wall Street accountable."

Cordray is the former attorney general of Ohio; in that position he "spent his career advocating for middle-class families... and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system," said Obama in a statement. Cordray already works for the CFPB as its enforcement division's head.

Warren's ouster was likely due to political opposition to her strong consumer advocacy and outspokenness for everyday citizens. Neither Wall Street nor Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner were big fans thanks to her "independent streak and her outspokenness, which at times put her at odds with the administration," as the New York Times put it. The GOP was a particular source of opposition, grilling her numerous times in their efforts to limit the CFPB's powers, and was not likely to confirm her without a fight. Yet the Times predicts Cordray won't have a much easier time than Warren:

Republicans made it clear on Sunday that they were no more likely to confirm Mr. Cordray than Ms. Warren. Forty-four Republican senators have signed a letter saying they would refuse to vote on any nominee to lead the bureau, demanding instead that the agency replace a single leader with a board of directors.

“Until President Obama addresses our concerns by supporting a few reasonable structural changes, we will not confirm anyone to lead it,” Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the banking committee, said in a written statement on Sunday.

Meteor Blades has a more cutting analysis over at Daily Kos:

The only way enough of them might be persuaded to "compromise" and not filibuster Cordray's nomination is if the president agreed to impanel a committee chosen from the ranks of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce with authority to toss out all the work that Warren and the staff she hired have done in the past 10 months. That same panel would be required to give a thumbs up or down to every bureau decision. Make certain that none of the diluted rules were enforced too vigorously.

A consumer protection bureau unable to protect consumers would be a perfect match for today's GOP game plan. A CFPB Republicans made toothless wouldn't be able to do anything to prevent the rip-offs that contribute to the next financial crisis, so they could say, "See, government regulations don't work," and proceed to deep-six its budget on the grounds it had wasted taxpayers' money to no good end. Win-win for them.

Sigh. Warren plans to go back to her post as a professor at Harvard, and is considering running for Congress in Massachusetts. On Thursday, the day before her name was crossed off the list to head the agency she herself created, she questioned the government investigations into the mortgage fraud crisis, suggesting that not enough has been done. In doing so, she became the "first senior administration official to publicly question the thoroughness of the investigations led by the Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Treasury Department, Federal Trade Commission, all 50 state attorneys general and more than 30 state bank regulators," wrote the Huffington Post. Interesting timing.



AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at July 18, 2011, 3:58am

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