New Consumer Czar: 'This Is A Valid Appointment'

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Richard Cordray, the new head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, defended his appointment in an interview with All Things Considered today.

"This is a valid appointment," he told NPR's Robert Siegel. "But, again, I'm not going to be distracted by the details of that. My job is to be the director of this consumer bureau, to look out for consumers across the country and I'm going to focus 100 percent on that job."

Robert asked if he was just going to "ignore whatever litigation might develop from that" and Cordray said, "that's correct."

Yesterday, President Obama bypassed the Senate and named Cordray using a maneuver known as a recess appointment. But, as we reported, the move was controversial because Senate Republicans argue the body was not in recess because they had set up pro-forma sessions every third day in order to keep the president from making such appointments.

Robert also asked Cordray if his controversial appointment would affect the enforcement power of the agency.

"It's likely that some lender whose wings you might clip will sue and claim that your agency has no authority to do it, because you weren't legally confirmed. Will that color your actions? And do you welcome that challenge?" Robert asked.

"It won't affect our actions," Cordray said, adding that he wasn't saying that to be cavalier. "The important thing here is that the bureau now has a director and that will level the playing field between banks and non-banks."

Cordray also talked to Robert about the role of the new agency. He said the agency will not say for example whether a consumer can take out a certain kind of loan.

"We're not going to be dictators in the market," he said. "We won't be making people's judgements for them. People have to make their own judgements and they have to take responsibility for those decisions, but if consumers aren't clear on what the options are, if they don't really understand the terms of the deal, because there's lots of fine print and it's confusing and it's complex, then the markets don't work very well and we saw that in so many ways [during the financial crisis.]"

We'll post the as-aired version of Robert's interview with Cordray a little later tonight.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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