President Obama was in Shaker Heights, Ohio this afternoon to talk about the fight to help secure a better future for the middle class -- and his decision to appoint Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Speaking before a packed house at Shaker Heights High School, the President said protecting consumers is too important to wait:
When Congress refuses to act, and as a result, hurts our economy and puts our people at risk, then I have an obligation as President to do what I can without them. I’ve got an obligation to act on behalf of the American people. And I’m not going to stand by while a minority in the Senate puts party ideology ahead of the people that we were elected to serve. Not with so much at stake, not at this make-or-break moment for middle-class Americans. We’re not going to let that happen.
Richard Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio, joined President Obama as he spoke, and the President outlined his credentials:
You know, you look at him and you think, this guy is not somebody who’s going around picking fights. And yet, this fight on behalf of consumers is something that Richard has been waging here in Ohio for the better part of two decades.
As your attorney general, he helped recover billions of dollars in things like pension funds on behalf of retirees. He protected consumers from dishonest lending practices. Before that, Richard was the state treasurer, where he earned a reputation for working with folks from across the spectrum -- Democrats, Republicans, bankers, consumer advocates -- had a great reputation across the board doing the right thing.
And, Cleveland, you’ve seen the difference that Richard can make for consumers, and I have, too. And that’s why I want Richard to keep standing up for you -- not just here in Ohio, but for consumers all across the country.
The job ahead of Mr. Cordray is nothing less than ensuring the integrity of our financial system. The President said:
[We] know what would happen if Republicans in Congress were allowed to keep holding Richard’s nomination hostage. More of our loved ones would be tricked into making bad financial decisions. More dishonest lenders could take advantage of some of the most vulnerable families. And the vast majority of financial firms who do the right thing would be undercut by those who don't.
See, most people in the financial services industry do the right thing, but they're at a disadvantage if nobody is enforcing the rules. We can't let that happen. Now is not the time to play politics while people’s livelihoods are at stake. Now is the time to do everything we can to protect consumers, prevent financial crises like the one that we’ve been through from ever happening again. That starts with letting Richard do his job.
To see the full remarks, watch the video.