Barack Obama, President Obama — January 4, 2012 at 11:54 am

President Obama to GOP obstructionists: “Screw you.” Recess appointment of Richard Cordray.


In the lastest edition of “We Can’t Wait” or, as I have come to think of it, “Screw you, Republican obstructionists”, President Obama today made a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In a defiant display of executive power, President Barack Obama on Wednesday will buck GOP opposition and name Richard Cordray as the nation’s chief consumer watchdog even though the Senate contends the move is inappropriate, senior administration officials told The Associated Press

With a director in place, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be able to start overseeing the mortgage companies, payday lenders, debt collectors and other financial companies often blamed for practices that helped tank the economy.

Obama’s decision to make a recess appointment is certain to cause an uproar from Capitol Hill to Wall Street. He is essentially declaring the Senate’s short off-and-on legislative sessions a sham intended to block his appointments.

A sham, indeed. Another thing he may end up doing is appointing a new member to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Why is this important? Because last year the conservative-led Supreme Court ruled that “a two-member Board lacks a quorum and cannot exercise its full authority in a number of critical areas”. Last month, a previous appointment ended leaving the NLRB without a quorum, rendering this essential board powerless.

The stakes are high for unions and their adversaries. As of last week, when Craig Becker’s appointment ended, the NLRB was reduced to two members, one Democrat and one Republican. A 2010 Supreme Court decision (New Process Steel) ruled that a two-member Board lacks a quorum and cannot exercise its full authority in a number of critical areas.

The objective of Hill Republicans is clear – to shut down the labor board. All 47 Senate Republicans warned President Obama of a “constitutional conflict” if he makes recess appointments to the NLRB. Senate Republicans will likely block any nomination – despite the fact that the President’s two recent nominees, Department of Labor Attorney Sharon Block and union-side lawyer Richard Griffin, are eminently qualified — having earlier announced their intention to render the board “inoperable.” […]

Republicans want to paralyze the board because of its commonsense rules streamlining union certification elections and informing employees of
their workplace rights.

[emphasis mine]

The NRLB is mandated by law. The law, the National Labor Relations Act, was passed “to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.”

So, while it is the law of the land, because it supports unions and collective bargaining, Republicans are doing everything in their power to kill it.

I’d be surprised if a nomination to the NLRB is not imminent.

Responses from PIRGIM and Americans for Financial Reform to Cordray’s nomination after the jump.

The Public Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM) released the following statement regarding the announcement of Richard Cordray’s recess appointment:

PIRGIM Applauds President for “Bold and Important” Recess Appointment of Richard Cordray to Head New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
Statement of PIRGIM program associate Meghan Hess

Ann Arbor, MI — “Today, President Obama took a bold and important step to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps by announcing a recess appointment of his well-qualified nominee, Richard Cordray, to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The appointment bypasses Senate opponents who have pledged to block any director unless the bureau is first weakened in a manner approved by Wall Street. The confirmation of a director also grants the bureau, which has been running since July, all of its new powers to protect consumers. We applaud President Obama for standing up to Wall Street and its backers on Capitol Hill on behalf of families, seniors, servicemembers, students and other consumers who need protection from unfair financial practices.

“Despite strong support from the American public for the bureau, in December its Senate opponents had blocked Cordray’s confirmation on a 53-45 vote (with 60 yes votes needed) and pledged to continue their opposition to a director, any director, until the bureau was first weakened and its independence eliminated. Unfortunately, without a director, the CFPB would have remained a second-class regulator without full authority over either the Wall Street banks that destroyed the economy or the payday lenders seeking to pick consumer pockets. Opponents make the false claim that the CFPB is “unaccountable” even though its structure, independence and funding are no different than those of other bank regulators. Opponents want it killed, not changed.

“Fortunately, the President’s action guarantees that the CFPB, the first federal financial regulator with only one job, protecting consumers, will have all its powers to guarantee a level financial playing field for both consumers and fair-dealing firms.”

Also, from Americans for Financial Reform:

AFR Statement on President Obama’s Recess Appointment of Richard Cordray

Washington, DC – Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of more than 250 national and state organizations working together for strong Wall Street reform, issued the following statement today:

Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform:

“Consumers won today when President Obama defied Wall Street interests to make a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. President Obama stood with consumers and families in making this crucial decision.

Now that the CFPB has a director, it finally has its full authority to protect consumers everywhere in the financial marketplace, from a Wall Street bank to a payday lender or from a mortgage company to a credit bureau or anywhere else.

We commend the President for placing the interests of consumers and families first and rejecting the demands of the CFPB’s opponents, both on and off Capitol Hill, that the agency’s independence and power to protect consumers be gutted in return for allowing it to continue to exist. AFR will work together with the President, the CFPB and others who want to help rebuild confidence in our financial regulatory system.”