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Time to Hold Obama Accountable on Regulations

Dec 9, 2011 | Blog

Yesterday, Senator Rubio submitted the following statement for the record regarding the necessary reforms to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


DECEMBER 8, 2011

Earlier this week in Kansas, President Obama tried to score political points by chiding Senate Republicans for refusing to vote on the confirmation of Richard Cordray to be Director of the so-called Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) saying we “refuse to let him do his job.” And the President asked “Why?” I am happy to answer his question, again.

Earlier this year, I joined 44 other senators in recommending to the President three necessary reforms for the CFPB in order to improve accountability in its operations. Specifically, we asked that a board of directors be established to oversee it, that the agency be subjected to the regular congressional appropriations process, and for the establishment of a safety-and-soundness check for the prudential regulators.

We made clear to the President that, without these reforms, we would not vote to confirm any nominee to run the CFPB, regardless of political affiliation or qualifications. The President chose to ignore our suggestions. Although the President frequently pays lip-service to accountability in the regulatory process, when push came to shove, he made this serious issue just another talking point. 

President Obama is now trying to pressure my colleagues to vote to confirm Mr. Cordray by traveling around the country giving speeches. I want to reiterate that I will not vote to confirm any director for this rogue bureaucracy until appropriate checks-and-balances are put into place. President Obama promised that “transparency and accountability will be a hallmark of my administration”, making his refusal to make CFPB more transparent especially disappointing.

Without reform, CFPB’s director would serve with unprecedented and unconstitutional amounts of power. The director would have the power to decide what rules are issued in the name of consumer protection, how funds are spent and how its enforcement authority will be used. In short, it empowers a single, unelected person with seemingly endless and unchecked authority. This bureaucracy holds the sweeping ability to limit choices when it comes to commonly-used financial products such as home equity loans, credit cards and student loans. Simply put, a designation from the CFPB director saying these products are “abusive” could restrict the availability of credit to consumers and increase the cost of goods or services for all Americans.

This year alone, over 70,000 pages of new regulations have been added to the books from agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Labor Relations Board, oftentimes without any compelling justification for their existence.  The last thing job creators in America need is more uncertainty from a powerful government agency like the CFPB that will receive a blank check for a half billion dollar budget with virtually no input from Congress.

President Obama has urged the American people to “help hold [him] accountable”. I stand with my Republican colleagues in an effort to do just that. The truth is we need transparency in government that provides greater confidence that regulations are designed to protect consumers from unfair practices, without destroying jobs. Until basic transparency requests are made, I will not support allowing the CFPB to operate with unaccountable leadership.