WASHINGTON - The appointment of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray by President Obama to be the first director of the newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is being applauded by civil rights leaders and groups alike.
Nancy Zirkin, executive vice president of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said, "Richard Cordray is a stalwart advocate for consumers and an extremely qualified choice to be the CFPB's first director. He has spent his career in Ohio and on the national stage protecting everyday Americans from predatory business practices and abusive lenders."
Cordray served as Ohio’s attorney general from 2009 to 2011 and previously served as a member of the state’s House of Representatives, as the state's treasurer, and as the state's first solicitor general. In December 2010, he was tapped to head the enforcement arm of the CFPB.
The CFPB was created by the financial reform law passed last year to protect consumers from predatory and abusive lending practices like the ones that led to the collapse of the financial industry in 2008. The civil and human rights community had advocated for Elizabeth Warren to head the bureau. However, Warren, who largely conceived of the bureau and was appointed by Obama in September 2010 to set up the bureau as his special advisor, faced stiff opposition.
"We have stood up with Warren and will stand up with Cordray to protect all Americans from abusive and manipulative business interests," said Zirkin.
President Obama said, “American families and consumers bore the brunt of the financial crisis and are still struggling in its aftermath to find jobs, stay in their homes, and make ends meet. That is why I fought so hard to pass reforms to fix the financial system and put in place the strongest consumer protections in our nation’s history. Richard Cordray has spent his career advocating for middle class families, from his tenure as Ohio’s Attorney General, to his most recent role as heading up the enforcement division at the CFPB and looking out for ordinary people in our financial system.”
President Obama continued, “I also want to thank Elizabeth Warren not only for her extraordinary work standing up the new agency over the past year, but also for her many years of impassioned leadership, and her fierce defense of a simple idea: ordinary people deserve to be treated fairly and honestly in their financial dealings. This agency was Elizabeth’s idea, and through sheer force of will, intelligence, and a bottomless well of energy, she has made, and will continue to make, a profound and positive difference for our country.”
Since being created by law last year, the CFPB has already made progress for consumers in a number of areas:
• Credit Cards. CFPB is pushing credit card providers to simplify their forms in order to make sure consumers can better understand the fees and costs associated with credit. Credit cards are the most commonly used form of consumer credit. Almost two out of three families now have at least one credit card, and almost half of all families carry a balance. As of July 21, 2011, CFPB will assume responsibility for enforcing the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD Act), signed by the President in 2009.
• Mortgage Disclosures -- “Know Before You Owe.” CFPB has launched an effort to simplify the forms that consumers receive when they shop for a mortgage so they have easy-to-understand information that helps them compare different mortgage offers and find the one that’s best for them. It also aims to reduce the regulatory burden by giving mortgage originators a clearer, less complicated form with which to work.
• Protecting Servicemembers. Under the leadership of military families advocate Holly Petraeus, CFPB has started helping service members navigate the unique circumstances that affect their finances. The CFPB has entered into an agreement with the Judge Advocate Generals of all the armed services regarding the protection of service members from financial abuse.
• Leveling the Playing Field to Ensure Payday Lenders, Debt Collectors and Other Non-Banks Comply with Consumer Protection Laws. CFPB has taken initial steps required to protect Americans against abuses by certain parts of the financial industry that we were unable to monitor before the passage of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. In addition to strengthening consumer protection, CFPB will level the playing field between banks and non-banks like pay day lenders and debt collectors. The CFPB will supervise both banks and nonbanks to ensure they are in compliance with consumer financial protection laws.
• Streamlining Help for Consumers. As of July 21 2011, CFPB will consolidate the authority of seven other agencies and have clear accountability for policing abuses in consumer financial products like credit cards and mortgages and for making sure people have the information they need to make the decisions that are best for them. On that date, the CFPB will become the dedicated cop on the beat protecting American consumers.