Good way to start the New Year – National Consumers League

By Michell K. McIntyre, Director of NCL’s Special Project on Wage Theft 

What a way to start the New Year! This week saw three exceptional events that signal an optimistic outlook for 2012.  President Obama not only decided to use his executive power to make recess appointments but he used them to appoint Richard Cordray to the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and filled the three vacancies at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

With Cordray’s appointment to the CFPB, the Bureau can finally begin its vital mission of standing by consumers, demanding greater transparency about consumer financial products and pursing enforcement actions against financial firms who have defrauded consumers or otherwise violated federal rules. Without a director, the CFPB could not have moved forwarded with its critical work and consumers would be left at the mercy of financial institutions.

Later that same day, President Obama appointed three very qualified individuals to the NLRB – Sharon Block, Terence F. Flynn and Richard Griffin. With these appointments the NLRB can continue to police employers, unions, and workers. Without these bipartisan appointments the five seat NLRB would not have had a quorum, having only two seats filled as of January 3rd, and would have been paralyzed until the Senate confirmed the nominees.

None of these events could have happened without President Obama taking the step to stop the nullification of these federal agencies by the minority in the Senate.  According to USA Today, when the Senate minority filibustered Cordray’s nomination last month, it was the first time in history the Senate blocked an appointment in an effort to effectively shut down an agency.  Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “We won’t support a nominee for this bureau – regardless of who the president is.” While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called it “the first time in Senate history a party blocked a qualified nominee solely because it disagrees with the existence of an agency that was created by law, through a bipartisan vote.”

When President Obama stepped up to the plate on Wednesday and used his executive power to make recess appointments, he not only hit it out of the ballpark but he hit a grand slam for American consumers and workers.