Good news today: consumers will get a new champion to hold the big banks accountable. Richard Cordray, the former Attorney General of Ohio, will be named to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Board. It’s a win for working people—and it comes despite the hostility of the Senate Republicans to the board’s very existence.
President Obama will announce the appointment today in Cleveland, in Cordray’s home state.
It’s a story that’s happened time and time again during this administration. Rather than allow the basic functions of government to happen, a minority of Senate Republicans have used the rules of the Senate to block President Obama’s appointees. The willingness of this crop of Senate Republicans to use the filibuster to block appointees and legislation is unprecedented in history.
It’s particularly bad in this case for a few reasons. The first, of course, is that after the devastating financial crisis, we need somebody to look out for consumers and counterbalance the irresponsibility and abuses of the big banks. The Senate Republicans are looking out for Wall Street here, not the rest of us. The second reason the obstruction of Cordray is a real problem is that it represents the simple refusal by a minority of the Senate to actually acknowledge the law. By obstructing Cordray, these Senators are nullifying the modest financial reform that was signed into law last year. Rather than actually changing or overturning law, this minority of Senators are simply preventing its enforcement.
Recess appointments are nothing new—Presidents Bush and Clinton named more than 100 people each to their administration in this manner, and President Reagan more than 200. And when the obstruction of appointees is this all-encompassing and the position being kept vacant this important, it’s a tactic that just makes sense.
So congratulations—not just to Cordray, but to the working people who finally have an advocate whose job is to stand up for them against the abuses of banks.