President Obama Speaks on the Confirmation Richard Cordray as CFPB Director

The President:
Well, for decades, the middle class
in this country was the engine that powered
the economy, and that allowed us to all grow together. Hard work paid off. Responsibility was rewarded. It was that basic bargain that
made this country great — that no matter who you are
or where you came from, you could make it if you put in
enough blood, sweat and tears. But over time, a winner-take-all
philosophy began to take hold and it delivered huge rewards
to those at the very top, but left everybody else working
harder and harder just to stay afloat. A lot of families took on
more debt just to keep up. Mortgages were sold that people
really didn’t understand and, in some cases, couldn’t afford. The financial sector was able
to make huge bets with other people’s money. And that strain of
irresponsibility eventually came crashing down on all of us. Now, I ran for President to
restore that basic bargain. I ran because I believed that
our economy works best not from the top down, but from the
middle out and from the bottom up, where you’ve got a rising,
thriving middle class and ladders of opportunity
for everybody. So four years ago, even as we
were working on restoring the economy and dealing with
the immediate crisis, we also wanted to figure out how
do we set new rules for the road to make sure that a few bad
apples in the financial sector couldn’t break the law,
or cheat consumers, or put the entire
economy at risk. And I was fortunate even when
I was running for President to have some friends
like Elizabeth Warren, who had already done a lot of
academic work on this and had a whole series of ideas about how
we might start making sure that consumers were treated
better, and as a consequence, take some of the risk
out of the system. And because of those
conversations and that work, and because of some terrific
efforts by other members in Congress, we were able,
for the time in history, to get a consumer watchdog on
the job — to look out for the interests of everyday Americans. And I am very proud to
say that last night, Rich Cordray was finally
confirmed — (laughter) — by the United States Senate
to keep serving as America’s consumer watchdog and
as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. So we’re very
pleased about that. (applause) I first nominated Rich for this
position two years ago this week. (laughter) He was eminently qualified. He had the support of Democrats
and Republicans from across the country. A majority of state attorneys
general from both parties — Rich’s former colleagues —
called on him to be confirmed. And for two years, Republicans
in the Senate refused to give Rich a simple yes-or-no vote —
not because they didn’t think he was the right
person for the job, but because they didn’t like
the law that set up the consumer watchdog in the first place. But without a director in
place, the CFPB would have been severely hampered. And the CFPB wasn’t able to give
consumers the information they needed to make good,
informed decisions. Folks in the financial system
who were doing the right thing didn’t have much certainty
or clear rules of the road. And the CFPB didn’t have all
the tools it needed to protect consumers against
mortgage brokers, or credit reporting agencies, or
debt collectors who were taking advantage of ordinary Americans. As a consequence, last year,
I took steps on my own to temporarily appoint
Richard so he could get to work on their behalf. And Americans everywhere are
better off because he did. And thanks to not only Rich, but
his terrific team — I know many are represented here —
we’ve made real strides, even despite the fact that
the agency was hampered by the confirmation process. And I would argue that part
of the reason we were able to finally get Rich confirmed
today is because he’s shown through his leadership
and because of the very hard work that everybody at the CFPB
has already done that this is making a difference in the
lives of the American people — a positive difference day in, day out. It’s hard to argue with success. So, yesterday, Richard
was officially confirmed. I want to thank Senators
from both parties, including Senator Reid, Senator
McConnell, Senator McCain, for coming together to
help get Rich confirmed. And obviously, Elizabeth,
who wasn’t a senator when she thought this up, but is now a
senator — she was poking and prodding people
for a long time — (laughter) — to help make it happen. Senator Reid’s
leadership, in particular, was obviously instrumental
in getting this done, and I couldn’t be
more grateful to him. And together, we’re giving
Americans a guarantee that the protections they enjoy today
will still be around next year, and the year after that,
and the year after that, and for years to come. While we’re on the
topic of nominations, I also want to thank the Senate
for agreeing to give my other nominees who’ve waited far
too long the votes that they deserve. These are all highly qualified
men and women who are just ready to go to work for the American
people — for students and for seniors, for veterans,
for middle-class families. Special interests, they’ll
always have their lobbyists. They’ll always have the capacity
to tilt the system in their favor. But middle-class folks deserve
leaders who are going to stand up for them as well
on a day-to-day basis, in the trenches. So let me use this opportunity
to remind people of what the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau under Rich’s leadership can do and has done already,
even in some difficult circumstances. Today, if you want to take out a
mortgage or a student loan or a payday loan, or you’ve
got a credit reporting agency or debt collector who’s causing
you problems — maybe they’re not playing by the rules, maybe
they’re taking advantage of you — you have somewhere to go. The CFPB has already
addressed more than 175,000 complaints from
all across the nation, giving people an advocate who is
working with them when they’re dealing with these financial
institutions that may not always be thinking about
consumers first. Today, as part of the CFPB’s
“Know Before You Owe” efforts, students and their parents can
get a simple report with the information they need before
taking out student loans. And more than 700 colleges have
joined to make this information clear and transparent. It’s making a difference. And by the way, if you’ve
noticed that some credit card forms are becoming easier to
understand than they used to be, that’s because of the work of
Rich’s team and other folks across this administration have
done to make sure that people understand the kinds of debts
that they’re taking on through their credit cards. Today, veterans have access to
tools that they need to defend against dishonest lenders and
mortgage brokers who try to prey on them when they come home
from serving their country. Today seniors are better
protected from someone who sees their homes or their retirement
savings as an easy target for get-rich-quick schemes. And thanks to the hard
work of folks at the CFPB, so far 6 million Americans have
gotten more than $400 million in refunds from companies that
engaged in unscrupulous practices. So this is not just some
abstract, theoretical exercise. Families, many of
them hard-pressed, have money in their pockets,
maybe, in some cases, saved a home or were able to
send their kids to college, because of the work that Rich
and his team is doing right now. And that’s money that oftentimes
families didn’t have the power to recover before. So Americans are better off
because of what Rich has done as our consumer watchdog and his
outstanding team is doing each and every day. And, by the way, that’s just the
tangible benefits that we know of, that $400
million in refunds. But part of what happens is
when you’ve got a watchdog, people don’t try as many things. And everybody starts tightening
up their practices because they know somebody is watching. And so that has ripple effects
throughout our economy. So Americans everywhere are
better off because of the work that these folks have done. And now that Rich has gotten
the yes-or-no vote he deserved, businesses and consumers have
more certainty than they did before that this will continue. So we’ve come a long way over
the last four and a half years. Our economy is growing. Our businesses have created 7.2
million new jobs over the past 40 months. We’ve locked in new safeguards
to protect against another crisis, and we are making sure
that we are doing everything we can to change the incentives
inside the financial system and try to end tax-funded —
taxpayer-funded bailouts for good. And even though
more work remains, our system is fairer and it’s
more sound than it was when the crisis hit. Of course, we’ve still got a
long way to go to restore that basic bargain, to restore that
sense of security that too many middle-class families still
are fighting to rebuild. But if we just keep letting
people like Rich do their jobs, if we let all these incredible
young people know that you’re going to keep on
going for a long time, you’re building something
that will last beyond our government’s service and we’ll
be providing protections for generations to come — and if we
keep focused on that North Star — a rising, thriving
middle class, an economy where prosperity
is broad-based — then I’m confident that we’re ultimately
going to get to where we need to go. So I want to thank everybody. And I just want to give Rich a
quick chance to say something. (applause) Mr. Cordray:
Thank you. I want to thank the President —
this President, in particular, who has believed in
us from the beginning. I want to thank the Senate and
the senators for the chance to persevere and be confirmed as
the director of this Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. All I ever asked for, all I ever
worked for was to have a chance to have an up-or-down
vote on the merits, and I thank them for that. For nearly two years, as
the President indicated, we have been focused on making
consumer finance markets work better for the American people. Today’s action — the action
— I was sworn in by the Vice President this morning, and the
Senate confirmation — means that there will be certainty
for those markets and for the industries we oversee. For me, it also reaffirms that
our central responsibility is to stand on the side of consumers
and see that they’re treated fairly, just as the
President described it. It’s something that
people deserve. It’s something that
they want and need. And we’re there to
try to provide it. We will continue that essential
work and each one of us — those of us here and those of us
in Washington and around the country who work for
this new Consumer Bureau, including most especially
myself — we’re grateful for the opportunity that you’ve given
us to serve our country in this important way. Thank you. Thank you, sir. (applause)

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