President Obama shut down the Wall Street lobby today with a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head his new consumer financial watchdog agency. Wall Street's lackeys in Congress, spearheaded by nearly every Republican Senator, spent the last year and a half trying to block the agency from doing its job to protect consumers from the rapacious greed of credit card, mortgage, auto and other lender rip-offs.
The President’s appointment of Cordray today rebuffs these Senators' last ditch effort to derail the consumer financial watchdog by refusing to confirm any nominee (one that was qualified for the job even in Republican eyes) unless the President drastically curtailed the agency’s power to protect consumers from the kind of reckless and abusive lending that caused the financial meltdown. The appointment puts to rest Republican efforts to strip the office of its authority and should put consumer lenders on final notice that financial institutions will be held accountable for surprise fees, exploding interest rates and predatory lending.
Wall Street lobbyists will continue to gin up support from their mouthpieces in Congress to loudly oppose the recess appointment (in fact they've already begun) and a court challenge is likely. But despite efforts to block a recess appointment by keeping the Senate in session over breaks by bringing one member back for a minute-session every three days, there is clear precedent for a recess appointment by the president during a recess of any length – Theodore Roosevelt and Harry Truman both did it. There is, however, no precedent for members of the Senate holding up a qualified nominee as a means to attack the agency they are appointed to run.
The tweet from the White House today said it all: "We Can't Wait: Today in Ohio, President Obama will announce the recess appointment of Consumer Watchdog Richard Cordray". Americans can wait no longer for a tough watchdog with unquestioned authority to rein in the greed and excesses of Wall Street Banks.
From one Watchdog to another: Congratulations Mr. Cordray.