By Jeff Bater
Oct. 28 — Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) dismissed Republican attempts to restructure the agency, and expressed support for its single-director governance model.
Cordray, appearing with Warren at a Politico event Oct. 28, said he thinks having one director run the CFPB works and makes the agency more accountable. Critics of the bureau have attacked it for a perceived lack of accountability.
“When I go in front of Congress and they're exercising oversight, which they do vigorously, I can't look to my left or my right and try to blame it on someone else,” he said. “I'm the accountable person.”
A bill (H.R. 1266) introduced in March by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) would replace the CFPB's director position with a five-person commission filled with presidential appointments.
Warren said the CFPB is functioning and doesn't need to be restructured. In pushing the current governance structure of the CFPB, Warren renewed criticism of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is run by a panel of commissioners; she has attacked the agency in the past for a backlog of rules and waivers to big banks (106 BBD, 6/3/15).
“My view on this is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it,” Warren said. “The consumer agency works well with a single director.”
During the interview, Warren reiterated her opposition to too-big-to-fail banks and promoted an idea she has supported for some time: separating traditional banking from riskier activities such as investment banking (219 BBD, 11/13/13).
In 2013, Warren proposed the 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act, a modern version of the Banking Act of 1933 known as Glass-Steagall that was trumped in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Glass-Steagall prevented a bank from being affiliated with a securities firm, insurer, or swaps dealer. She reintroduced the legislation this year (S. 1709).
“We still have a problem. We have too-big-to-fail banks,” Warren said, later adding, “I never hear the case why it is that some investment bank that wants to take risks on Wall Street and wants to get those kinds of profits should have access to your grandmother's checking account and savings account.”
With the presidential election approaching, Cordray was asked whether he would continue to serve out his term under a Republican administration. Cordray replied that he was in a non-partisan position and “will continue to do this job.”
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