In Labor Day Speech, Cordray Still Avoids Revealing Political Plans
September 5, 2017
In one of the closest watched speeches delivered over the Labor Day holiday, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray spoke the language of a liberal political candidate without formally announcing he was running for office.
At yesterday’s AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic in Cincinnati, Cordray noted that he previously addressed the event when he served as Ohio’s Treasurer and Attorney General, and highlighted his work since taking the reins at the CFPB in 2011—which he framed as an unqualified success.
“My great colleagues and I have faced some difficult tasks over these years, but we just went right ahead and carried them out,” Cordray said. “So, we built a brand-new federal agency from scratch. We designed and imposed reforms to fix the mortgage market that had wrecked the economy. And we sent a strong message to banks and large financial companies that in a frank and fair way, the Consumer Bureau would be pushing them to clean up their act and put their customers first. That has been hard work. It has been good work. And, above all, it has been enormously satisfying and important work.”
Cordray’s speech also touched on an us-versus-them aspect that positioned the private sector as an enemy to working Americans. “Have you ever been treated unfairly by a large, often faceless, company?” he asked, before spelling out cases of income and wealth inequality that he claimed was exacerbated by the private sector—with the CFPB as the champion of the general public. “If we do not push back on the forces that press people down, we are allowing America’s promises to go unfulfilled,” he proclaimed, adding a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. equating economic rights with civil rights.
What was left unsaid, however, was whether Cordray planned to leave the CFPB ahead of the July 2018 expiration of his term to run for governor of Ohio next year. Cordray swatted off a specific request for an answer from Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and has refused to comment publicly on his future goals.
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