The Senate should confirm Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Cordray has been serving as Director under a recess appointment for the past year. During that time he has operated the Bureau in an open and honest manner. He has proven himself to be a very pragmatic and extraordinarily talented leader who has earned a reputation for thoughtfulness and fair play. Maybe the CFPB is not perfect. But, it surely is not an organization bent on the destruction of either banks or business. After a year and a half of operation, the CFPB largely earns kudos from those industries it regulates.
For example, the Mortgage Bankers Association, a group that you would expect to be vehemently opposed to the CFPB, commends new mortgage servicing rules for their transparency and productiveness. Likewise, Richard Hunt, President of the Consumer Bankers Association, has described Director Cordray as "tough but fair." Jaime Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase Bank, said, "They've done a great job. They started from ground zero and they are making great progress."
These individuals may be less than perfectly happy with the structure of the CFPB. But, to their credit, they are fair enough to concede the process is a necessary one and acknowledge that the CFPB is not the oppressive and destructive demon that those on the political extreme claim it to be.
Richard Cordray has done a fine job in his role as Director of the CFPB. He is an extraordinarily talented man who is no ideologue. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Cordray said that he does not "think about politics" while working at CFPB. "I'm in a job that doesn't mix with politics," he said. I think his track record has proven him to be true to his word.
Cordray is one of the brightest men I have met in Washington. His credentials are impeccable. He is Phi Beta Kappa and was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University. Later, he was editor-in-chief of the University of Chicago Law Review and subsequently served as a law clerk for Judge Robert Bork on the U.S. Court for the District of Columbia Circuit, and after that, Justice Anthony Kennedy of the Supreme Court of the United States. As if that were not enough, he is an undefeated five-time Jeopardy! champion.
He understands the business community at the grassroots level. He has been a member of his local Chamber of Commerce in Grove City, Ohio for more than 20 years. His first job out of high school was working minimum wage at McDonald's. He worked for Jones Day, one of the country's largest law firms. He served the citizens of Ohio as State Attorney General.
When first appointed Director, he offered reassurances to the business community that the bureau is not the enemy. "We will be not only protecting consumers, but we will be supporting honest and responsible businesses... who will be better off in the marketplace when they're protected against fraudulent, deceptive competitors, and to have even-handed rules of the road that everybody lives under will be a good thing."
It is this facet of Cordray's character that has been so much different than the expectation of the business community. The CFPB, charged by law to protect consumers, has an equally important role to protect honest businesses. Mr. Cordray has repeatedly emphasized the value honest businesses accrue when dishonest businesses are driven out of the marketplace. He has made good on his promise.
I cannot think of a better man for the job. Richard Cordray deserves a permanent appointment as Director of the CFPB right away. It is the right thing for America, for businesses and for consumers.