President Barack Obama said his decision to use a disputed recess appointment to put Richard Cordray in place as director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is part of his New Year’s resolution “to make sure that middle-class families regain the security they’ve lost over the past decade.”
“We can’t go back to the days when the financial system was stacking the deck against ordinary Americans,” Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Ramping up his re-election campaign, Obama is using the recess appointment to draw a distinction between Republicans and his fellow Democrats. Obama’s opponents blocked Cordray’s nomination since last summer because “they wanted to weaken his agency,” the president said.
Cordray, 52, installed by Obama on Jan. 4 over Republican objections, takes over a bureau created under the Dodd-Frank Act in response to complaints that regulators didn’t do enough to protect consumers before the 2008 credit crisis.
Republican lawmakers question the move’s legality. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has asked the Justice Department for information on the appointment in a letter signed by seven other senators.
Republicans have opposed the creation of the consumer bureau and argue that the top position should be replaced with a five-member commission to disperse oversight. They also say the agency’s budget should undergo the congressional appropriations process.
Cordray is a Democrat who served as Ohio’s attorney general and had been the state’s treasurer and a state representative. He was a U.S. Supreme Court clerk and has argued seven cases before the justices, according to his official biography. He was also a five-time winner on the television quiz show “Jeopardy.”
“This is a make or break moment for the middle class and all those working to get there,” Obama said, highlighting yesterday’s Labor Department report that showed the unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent last month, the lowest level since February 2009.
Obama said the jobs report shows the nation is “heading in the right direction” and “we’re not going to let up.”
In the Republican radio Address, Representative Nan Hayworth of New York called on the president to use his State of the Union address later this month to show a “willingness to work with Republicans” to enact the 30 jobs bills already passed in the Republican-led House.
“The American people know we have our disagreements, but they rightly expect us to work together to find areas where we can agree and act,” she said. “Republicans remain ready and willing to do just that.”
She said the Obama administration failed to fulfill its pledge to get the unemployment rate below 8 percent and that the jobless rate shows that “finding work in this economy remains a struggle.”
She said the 30 bills that haven’t been taken up by the Democratic-led Senate include one that would extend the payroll tax cut for a full year and extend unemployment insurance. She said the measures are being “bottled up by partisan politics.”
“While the Republican-led House has passed a full-year extension of the payroll tax holiday, the Senate, controlled by the president’s own party, has not,” she said.
Hayworth concluded by noting the anniversary of the shooting a year ago tomorrow of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and several of her constituents in a Tucson parking lot.
“In those difficult hours, Americans reminded the world that no act of violence would silence the dialogue of democracy,” Hayworth said. “All of us who have the privilege to serve with Gabby continue to pray for her recovery.”