Ex-Treasury Official Barr Not Interested in Consumer Bureau Job

Michael S. Barr, the former U.S. Treasury Department assistant secretary for financial institutions, said he isn’t interested in becoming director of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“I had a wonderful two years in Washington. I am happy to be where I am,” Barr said today at a conference of the Consumer Federation of America in Washington.

Barr left Treasury in November to return to work as a law professor at the University of Michigan. He has frequently been mentioned in press reports as a top candidate for CFPB director.

Barr, who helped design and pass the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul, defended the new agency against critics in his speech.

“Their logic rests on the premise that empowering consumers is somehow antithetical to free markets,” Barr said. “In fact, the opposite is true.”

Barr also criticized what he called “collective amnesia” about the financial crisis that has led some members of Congress to push for reductions in the budgets of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the consumer bureau.

“People kind of forgot we had it, forgot why we had it, forgot why we had to fix it and are ready to go back to what we were doing before,” Barr said. “And I think that’s really dangerous for the country.”

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