In a speech invoking the reformist legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, President Obama said Tuesday that the Senate can help the government protect consumers and restrict the excesses of business by confirming Richard Corday to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“For the first time in history, the reform we passed puts in place a consumer watchdog who is charged with protecting everyday Americans from being taken advantage of by mortgage lenders, payday lenders or debt collectors,’’ Obama said in a speech in Osawatomie, Kan.
“Every day we go without a consumer watchdog in place is another day when a student, or a senior citizen, or member of our Armed Forces could be tricked into a loan they can’t afford – something that happens all the time.”
The CFPB is an independent agency housed inside the Federal Reserve. It has direct oversight of credit unions and other financial institutions with assets of more than $10 billion, though all financial institutions have to comply with its regulations.
Until a director is confirmed the agency can’t regulate non-bank entities, such as payday lenders and bill collectors.
The Senate is likely to vote on Cordray’s nomination on Thursday, though Senate Republicans have said they will block the confirmation of any nominee unless the structure of the agency is changed so it is run by a five-member board.
Obama gave the speech in the same town where Roosevelt made a major economic speech in 1912 and outlined his plan for widespread economic reform, which he called a New Nationalism. Roosevelt championed business innovation but implemented stronger regulation and criticized the excesses of the “malefactors of great wealth.’’
In Obama’s speech he made the case for a strong government to temper what he sees as the excesses of the private sector.
“We simply cannot return to this brand of you’re-on-your-own economics if we’re serious about rebuilding the middle class in this country,” the president said.
“We know that it doesn’t result in a strong economy. It results in an economy that invests too little in its people and its future. It doesn’t result in a prosperity that trickles down. It results in a prosperity that’s enjoyed by fewer and fewer of our citizens,’’ he said.