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Obama Bypasses Warren for CFPB, Naming Cordray

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After many months of speculation over who President Barack Obama might choose to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that Elizabeth Warren set up, the wait is over—at least for the moment. On Sunday, Obama chose former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to take the top spot.

Reuters reported that, while progressives were disappointed that Warren did not get the job, Cordray faces a rocky road to confirmation as well. Known for his get-tough position on banks regarding questionable mortgage practices, he was described by one bank lobbyist as “all the hard edge and ambition of Warren without the charm.”

Matt McCormick, portfolio manager at Bahl & Gaynor Investment Counsel Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio, said in the report that Obama was “bowing to the inevitable” in choosing Cordray over Warren. “He’s from the same mold as Elizabeth Warren but he is easier to get approved,” McCormick was quoted saying. Whoever heads the CFPB will have to be approved by the Senate.

Perhaps easier, but by no means guaranteed. Cordray is seen as no friend of banks, and Republicans said in May that they would not approve any nomination at all without gutting the agency, which they said was too powerful and not subject to oversight. They reiterated their position on Sunday after news of Obama’s choice of Cordray was made public. Though the Senate is controlled by Democrats, Republicans could use a procedural move to block any vote for confirmation of his appointment.

Warren characterized Cordray as tough and smart, and was quoted in the report saying that was “exactly the combination this new agency needs.”

Warren will reportedly leave her position in the administration, although reports are divided about what she will do next. Some say she will return to teaching at Harvard University once the transition is over, and others say she is contemplating a run for the Senate, challenging Scott Brown, R-Mass., for his seat in 2012.


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