Entries in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (9)


7 “Jeopardy!” Blunders By Obama’s Top Consumer Watchdog

Office of Attorney General of Ohio(WASHINGTON) -- This newly installed head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau waited two years for confirmation from the U.S. Senate. He also won Jeopardy! five times in 1987, graduated from both Michigan and Oxford universities, and his last name derives from the French cor de roi, meaning “King’s heart.”

The answer: Richard Cordray.

President Obama‘s new top consumer watchdog is, simply put, a trivia monster. The former Ohio attorney general won five consecutive days of Jeopardy! in 1987–when five was the limit, long before the Ken Jennings era–before losing twice in that year’s Tournament of Champions.

This week, the Senate confirmed him to run the CFPB, a governmental watchdog arm devised to shield consumers from predatory lending and financial abuse. Obama nominated Cordray in July 2011, but Republicans blocked his nomination until this week, having opposed the CFPB’s creation under the massive financial-reform bill in 2010 and having continued to oppose its materialization with an appointed head. They approved Cordray as part of a bipartisan deal on executive nominations.

Cordray’s Jeopardy! run was impressive. Over the course of a week in April 1987, and two Tournament-of-Champions days in November, he missed only 27 questions while correctly answering 141, including six of seven Final Jeopardy! questions. He knows, for instance, that Pericles ruled over the “Golden Age of Athens,” that it was The Hollies who released “Stop, Stop, Stop” in 1966, and that Maria Tallchief was the Osage Indian who danced as the Sugar Plum Fairy in Balanchine’s Nutcracker after their marriage had ended.

Not bad.

But now that Cordray has been appointed to a somewhat controversial job, it’s worth examining his Jeopardy! record with a more critical eye. In other words, what doesn’t Richard Cordray know?

The website J! Archive has sought to compile every Jeopardy! question asked, answer given, and who got it right. (See Cordray’s games here.) A review of Cordray’s misses reveals few gems, but were the Republican National Committee to release an attack memo on his 1987 quiz-show record, it could say that Obama’s top consumer cop whiffed on questions about Santa Claus, FDR, photosynthesis, and Woody Allen, while confusing Rastafarianism with Voodoo and gravity with air–raising dark, troubling questions about his knowledge base.

Here are seven questions on which Cordray missed, according to J! Archive. The rest weren’t all that interesting.

•    Q: If it were not for the retarding influence of this, raindrops would attain bullet-like speeds
CORDRAY: What is gravity?
A: the atmosphere

•    Q: “Of him, Francis Church said ‘Thank God, he lives, & he lives forever… Virginia’”
CORDRAY: “Who is Robert E. Lee?”
A: Santa Claus

•    Q: “In Feb. 1942 radio address he said, ‘Never before have we had so little time in which to do so much’”
CORDRAY: “Who is Winston Churchill?”
A: Franklin Delano Roosevelt

•    Q: “Believers in this Haitian religion say ‘loa’ spirits possess them & ride them like horses”
CORDRAY: “Who are Rastafarians?”
A: Voodoo

•    Q: “The raw materials required for photosynthesis are water & this gas”
CORDRAY: “What is oxygen?”
TREBEK: “Yes, the plant produces oxygen.”
A: carbon dioxide

•    Q: “1982 Woody Allen movie whose title suggests he had a little help from Shakespeare”
CORDRAY: “What is A Midsummer Night’s Dream?”
SUSAN: “What is A Midsummer Night’s Comedy?”
A: A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy

•    Q: “It’s said this part of Peter Stuyvesant’s body was buried with full military honors years before his death”
CORDRAY: “What is his wooden leg?”
A: his (real) leg

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Senate GOP Blocks Obama’s Choice to Head CFPB

Office of the Attorney General of Ohio(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate voted Thursday against advancing President Obama’s nominee, Richard Cordray, to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The vote, 53-45-1, was a party line vote with the exception of Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., who voted with the Democrats. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine voted present, and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass did not vote.

Senate Republicans argued that they are blocking Cordray’s nomination not because of his qualifications but because they are trying to force structural changes to the bureau -- changes they’ve called for the White House to make sine the bureau’s proposal.

Republicans have been consistently concerned with the bureau’s “lack of transparency or accountability,” and feel they have not had their concerns adequately addressed by the White House.

Republicans want the potential director replaced with a board of directors that would oversee the bureau -- because they don’t believe a single person should wield so much power.  Additionally they believe the bureau should be subject to the congressional appropriations process, which without, they say, gives the bureau a “funding stream” without a check from the American people.

Following Thursday’s vote, Senate Democrats blasted Republicans for standing in the way of the nomination to get an up-or-down vote, while not addressing the GOP's concerns over the CFPB's potential power.

“This is Republican never-never land,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY said. “They speak to the GOP’s true motives, to deprive the critical agency of any power to protect middle class consumers….This is not over, we will never sign on any attempt to permanently gut this agency.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


White House Pushes Cordray Nomination Ahead of Senate Vote

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesUPDATE: President Obama’s choice to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was blocked Thursday in the Senate.

(WASHINGTON) -- The White House is publicly ramping up pressure on Senate Republicans to back Richard Cordray’s nomination for director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The Senate is set to vote on Cordray’s nomination on Thursday, but Republicans have said they will block the former Ohio Attorney General from leading the agency unless it undergoes structural changes.

“We want accountability for this agency, which has none today as it’s structured,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said on Tuesday. “This is not about him.  It’s about the structure of this, a powerful -- I think a monster, as far as future regulation, to over-regulate our economy, create more regulations and fewer jobs.”

The White House said on Wednesday the CFPB has, “an unprecedented set of accountability provisions” and warned Senate Republicans that blocking Cordray’s nomination will leave “the door wide open” for the same kinds of abuses that led to the financial crisis.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin told reporters on Wednesday, "Until a director is confirmed, these institutions will operate without supervision and oversight, just like before the crisis. That means that millions of American people who will remain vulnerable to some of the same regulatory gaps that helped create the financial crisis, and they will lack basic commonsense protections."

President Obama has also publicly pushed lawmakers to support his nominee.

“Nobody claims he’s not qualified. But the Republicans in the Senate refuse to confirm him for the job; they refuse to let him do his job. Why? Does anybody here think that the problem that led to our financial crisis was too much oversight of mortgage lenders or debt collectors?” the president said Tuesday.

As part of its campaign, the White House on Wednesday enlisted bipartisan state attorneys general to call for Cordray’s confirmation.  The administration is also making an aggressive case in seven targeted states -- Alaska, Tennessee, Maine, Iowa, Indiana, Nevada, and Utah -- for Cordray to be confirmed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Stalemate over New Consumer Watchdog Group

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At his news conference Thursday, President Obama weighed in on a potential deadlock in Congress over his nominee to head a consumer financial watchdog group.

“We’re going to have a hearing on Richard Cordray, who is my nominee to head up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He would be America’s chief consumer watchdog when it comes to financial products. This is a guy who is well-regarded in his home state of Ohio, has been the treasurer of Ohio, the attorney general of Ohio. Republicans and Democrats in Ohio all say that he is a serious person who looks out for consumers. He has a good reputation.  And Republicans have threatened not to confirm him not because of anything he’s done, but because they want to roll back the whole notion of having a consumer watchdog,” said Obama.

The vote took place shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday morning, before the full Senate Banking Committee. Along a party line vote of 12-10 it approved Cordray’s nomination. Although the nomination was sent to the full Senate, Republicans, including the Banking Committee’s ranking Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, have vowed to block the nomination unless the president agrees to changes in the structure of the bureau.

Shelby wants a board to lead the agency instead of a single director. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who testified before the committee Thursday, urged Republicans to meet with Cordray. But Shelby indicated it’s not the nominee that is the problem, it’s the president’s unwillingness to have a dialogue on changing the bureau.

Geithner called Cordray an exceptionally thoughtful leader. “If the Senate fails to confirm a director for the CFPB, then what will happen is we will leave a vast array of nonbank financial institutions, consumer finance companies, outside the scope of consumer protection,” Geithner told the committee. “Which was exactly the same mistake that left us so vulnerable to the financial crisis we went through.”

But Shelby warned that Cordray’s nomination is dead until he hears from Obama. “We’re waiting for that dialogue, and I hope we hear from you,” Shelby told Geithner. “But short of that I think the nominee’s not going anywhere.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Barney Frank: ‘Gender Bias’ Contributed to Warren Downfall

House [dot] gov(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., blames an unconscious culture of sexism for the failed appointment of Elizabeth Warren to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“Part of it I have to say was gender bias,” Frank said on the House floor Wednesday.

Warren, a former Harvard professor, was tapped as a White House adviser and helped set up the newly formed CFPB, but she was ultimately passed over by the Obama administration.  Instead, they nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to lead the start-up government agency.

The CFPB is a new federal agency that will put regulators in charge of policing the financial services industry.  It was widely assumed that Warren would not have obtained the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster of her nomination.

Warren was the subject of harsh questioning from Republican members of Congress during her numerous appearances before the House Financial Services Committee when she was working to create CFPB.

But she is also known for asking tough questions herself -- grilling Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner back in 2009 when she chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel, created by Congress to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Frank did not say who he blames for gender bias -- the White House for not nominating her or Republicans in the Senate for promising to block her nomination.

“Ms. Warren encountered from some people, maybe unconscious on their part, the notion that very strong-willed women with strong opinions might have a place but not in the financial sector,” said Frank.

Jeff Emerson, a spokesman for Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee, pointed out that Warren could easily have been nominated by the White House over Cordray.

“Mr. Frank obviously ignores the fact that President Obama could nominate whomever he wanted for this position and it is President Obama who chose not to nominate Elizabeth Warren,” said Emerson.

Warren will return to Harvard on Aug. 1, according to the Treasury Department, but there has been wide speculation that Warren might run for Senate in Massachusetts.  The consumer advocate is considered to be a potential Democratic challenger to Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sen. Shelby Not Budging on Filibuster Threat of CFPB Nominee

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- One day after the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) opened its doors, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., doubled down on his resolve to block the appointment of the agency’s first leader.

“We fought it last year.  We’re going to continue to fight it,” Shelby told ABC News.

“This puts so much power, too much power, in one person, and we should never have done that,” he said of the Dodd-Frank law, which created the agency and its directorship last year.

“This is about accountability, and what we’re asking for is...not to change the mission, but of governance,” he said.  “And the president can do this.  If he doesn’t do it, I believe we’re not going to budge and we shouldn’t.”

This week, Obama nominated Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the new agency, but his appointment must be confirmed by the Senate.

Shelby said he doesn't oppose Cordray personally, but opposes any single person to head the agency.

He and 42 Republican colleagues have written to President Obama demanding a “structural change” to the bureau that would replace the director with a board of managers and subject it to the Congressional appropriations process.  The White House opposes the changes.

On the debt and deficit debate, Shelby took an equally firm stand against the prospect of a U.S. default, which has been raised by some House Republicans.

“I don’t believe we will default.  We should never think about defaulting,” he said, predicting there will be a temporary resolution before Aug. 2.

“If we don’t do something serious -- and I don’t believe we can do it in the next two weeks, in the next few months about spending -- we’re going to have a bigger can to kick down the road,” he said.

Shelby responded warmly to the $3.7 trillion deficit reduction framework drafted by the bipartisan "Gang of Six" Senators, but he suggested it’s too early to offer a full-fledged endorsement.

“We are looking at the details,” he said.  “I hope it is more than smoke and mirrors.  I hope it is no smoke and no mirrors.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Picks Former Ohio AG to Run Consumer Bureau

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- White House officials say that on Monday President Obama will nominate former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he currently serves as director of enforcement.

The selection is a slight to Elizabeth Warren, who first proposed and has helped create the agency. But Warren's nomination would have been challenged in the Senate.

Last September, the president announced that Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, would be named to a special position reporting to both him and to the Treasury Department and tasked with heading the effort to get the new federal agency standing.

He noted at the time that “the idea for this agency was Elizabeth Warren’s,” a reference to an essay she wrote in 2007 in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas in which she proposed a “Financial Product Safety Commission.”

Forty four US Senators wrote to the president in May that they will not confirm any nominee unless the director poisition is replaced with a board subjected to the congressional appropriations process, among other changes.

The CFPB begins formal operations on July 21.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House GOP Members Slam Consumer Financial Agency

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- House Republicans denounced the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the first oversight hearing for the agency, arguing it lacks accountability and allows one person to wield too much power.

Elizabeth Warren, the Obama administration advisor charged with setting up the CFPB, defended the agency amid stinging criticism from Republicans during a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing.

"If we had had this agency 6 years ago, 8 years ago, we would not be in the mess we're in today," Warren said. 

House GOP members lambasted the agency for insufficient congressional oversight and for operating with one person in charge of the entire agency rather than establishing a board. 

"You have a lot of discretion and a lot of power, but I see very little accountability," said Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Warren argued this accusation was not true.

"The consumer agency is not the strongest agency in government.  It is the most constrained and the most accountable agency in government," Warren said. 

The CFPB is funded through the Federal Reserve and is not part of the appropriations process, and the Financial Stability Oversight Council possesses the ability to overrule decisions made by the agency.

Committee members also questioned the role of CFPB staff in ongoing rulemaking discussions regarding mortgage servicers.  Warren admitted the agency has offered advice to Treasury and the Department of Justice when asked, but it has not taken part in any decision-making discussions.  Warren pointed to the future influence the CFPB could have in the mortgage servicing industry.

"The mortgaging servicing problem illustrates the importance of fair consistent enforcement," Warren said.  "We need a cop on the beat that American families can count on.  It is critical that we get this right."

The CFPB was established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act in 2010, but the agency does not begin to assume responsibilities until this summer. Warren was tasked with setting up the agency when President Obama and Secretary Geithner named her as assistant to the president and special advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the CFPB.

The president has not nominated someone to formally take charge of the agency in the summer, prompting some GOP members to take issue with Warren's current role at the agency.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Holly Petraeus to Take on Predatory Lending

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Holly Petraeus, the wife of the top American general in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, will soon hold a newly created position in the Obama administration, helping to protect military families from the scourge of predatory lenders.

Though not well known to the American public, the low-key wife of one of America's most popular figures has long worked to raise awareness about the issue. Holly Petraeus will be named to a position at the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by Obama appointee Elizabeth Warren.

Warren told ABC News that the new agency will be taking responsibility for enforcing predatory lending laws.

"The message has now been delivered that we can't continue with business as usual, we can't continue with products people don't understand," Warren said.

Petraeus will specialize in protecting military families from predatory lenders who have been a constant headache for the military for many years.

Predatory lending is not a new problem in military communities. It is a frequent sight to see pawn shops, check-cashing stores and auto loan offices located just beyond the entrances to America's military bases.

The businesses offer cash advances to military members and their families, who may be unprepared for the extremely high interest rates the lenders will charge them.

While she has generally shunned the public spotlight that has made her husband a household name, Petraeus' new position in the administration will undoubtedly raise her public profile and raise awareness about an issue she has worked on for years. In addition to being an outspoken critic of predatory lending, for the past six years she has headed the Better Business Bureau's Military Line, which educates military personnel about scams and provides them with guidance for better financial planning.

Petraeus became involved with taking on predatory lending when her husband was in command of the 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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