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CFPB Undaunted Nearly Two Months After Going Live

If recent remarks by ""Treasury"":http://www.treasury.gov/Pages/default.aspx adviser Raj Date signal anything, the ""Consumer Financial Protection Bureau"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ (CFPB) means to press forward with the responsibilities enshrined for it under the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB holdover, who filled the shoes of ""Elizabeth Warren"":http://www.elizabethwarren.com/announcement?sc=ad_g_nat_s_ad2_h&gclid=CMC2iKipoKsCFVsS2godM0kVmA, ""now a Senate candidate"":https://themreport.com/articles/cfpb-architect-officially-jumps-into-race-for-senate-2011-09-15, explored events in the lead-up to the controversial bureau even as Republican opposition firms up.

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Speaking at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Date ""portrayed"":http://www.consumerfinance.gov/speech/lessons-learned-from-the-financial-crisis-the-need-for-the-cfpb/ the CFPB as a federal agency whose ""work will benefit the entire economy"" following the financial crisis, the blame for which he pegged to a lack of supervision in the $10.4-trillion mortgage market.

""The simple truth is that we got into this mess one lousy mortgage at a time,"" he said. ""Fixing a mortgage market that is so big and so broken will take a lot of work. That's why we've already hit the ground running with the CFPB.""

Date outlined recent efforts by the federal agency to clean up the market. He touched on how the CFPB plans to couple mortgage disclosure forms to create a uniform document, which he claimed had received the attention of some 10,000 bankers, consumer protection advocates, mortgage brokers, and the American public.

""Without a level playing field,"" he added, ""even honest businesses can feel pressured to lower their standards, to avoid losing market share or losing money. Fortunately, Congress gave the Bureau the authority to regulate and oversee both the big banks and key non-banks,"" something he said ""will create competition that benefits both consumers and responsible lenders.""

Date attributed Dodd-Frank and the CFPB to an old Congress. The new Congress, swept into power by disenchanted voters in 2010, created new gridlock and a sobering new reality for the federal agency.

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Republican lawmakers have held the line against the CFPB since assuming office, with House members ""passing a bill"":https://themreport.com/articles/house-passes-bill-to-revamp-cfpb-2011-07-22 to subject the agency to the appropriations process and 44 senators ""vowing to never confirm a director"":https://themreport.com/articles/house-republicans-propose-kneecapping-cfpb-2011-06-20 proposed by the Obama administration.

That pledge fatally obstructed the nomination process for Warren, the straight-talking Harvard law professor who ""President Barack Obama"":http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/president-obama/ ""replaced with former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray"":https://themreport.com/articles/obama-bumps-warren-taps-cordray-for-cfpb-2011-07-18 in August. ""Rep. Patrick McHenry"":http://mchenry.house.gov/ (R-North Carolina) made headlines when he accused the CFPB architect of lying in May, inspiring a litany of criticisms by Warren backers on ""Facebook"":http://www.facebook.com/ in the process, according to multiple news outlets.

Since her ouster, Warren herself has made waves by first ""forming an exploratory committee"":https://themreport.com/articles/warren-makes-moves-toward-senate-bid-2011-08-19, then ""netting over $100,000 in campaign funds"":https://themreport.com/articles/pac-raises-100k-for-elizabeth-warren-senate-run-2011-08-16, and finally announcing her bid for the Senate seat occupied by ""Sen. Scott Brown"":http://www.scottbrown.com/ (R-Massachusetts).

Not unlike his predecessor, Cordray finds himself immobile in the highly partisan nomination process.

His first and most recent hearing ""devolved into a tit-for-tat skirmish"":https://themreport.com/articles/political-tensions-alive-at-cordray-hearing-2011-09-06 between Democratic and Republican lawmakers, with ""Sen. Richard Shelby"":http://shelby.senate.gov/public/ (R-Alabama), a vocal critic of the agency, renewing his vow in a ""prepared statement"":http://shelby.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/newsreleases?ID=0929f931-fc34-4b5e-a382-143ec3c4b797 to block a director that he says would ""have so much unfettered power over the American people.""

Some doubt whether Cordray intends to stay the embattled nominee at the CFPB for long. In a past interview, ""Mark Calabria"":http://www.cato.org/people/mark-calabria, director of financial regulation studies with the ""Cato Institute"":http://www.cato.org/, assessed Cordray by ""suggesting"":https://themreport.com/articles/obama-bumps-warren-taps-cordray-for-cfpb-2011-07-18 he may use the national spotlight to standup a reelection bid for attorney general in Ohio.

Despite all the political hay, the CFPB has quietly moved forward since opening its doors in July. Even after ""acquiring the rule-making authority"":https://themreport.com/articles/one-year-later-cfpb-goes-live-2011-07-21 for 18 consumer financial protection laws from seven federal agencies, per provisions under Dodd-Frank, the agency has proposed only a few new rules and petitioned the public for commentary.

Still waiting to get into the books: language that would define so-called ""larger participants"" in the mortgage market and a ""rule that would give leeway"":https://themreport.com/articles/cfpb-proposes-first-rule-2011-07-22 to state-crossing lenders in need of licenses.

Whither the CFPB, two months forward, for Date?

""Our work will benefit the entire economy,"" he told an audience before the center in Philadelphia. ""If we get this right, the Bureau will support the work of rebuilding our economy and it will promote a better financial future for every single one of us.""

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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