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Obama not giving up on consumer bureau chief

President Obama left open the possibility Saturday that he could make a recess appointment to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Obama criticized Senate Republicans for their opposition to confirming Richard Cordray to lead the newly created bureau designed to help consumers with financial issues.

"I refuse to take 'no' for an answer," he said in his weekly address.

"Financial institutions have plenty of high-powered lawyers and lobbyists looking out for them. It’s time consumers had someone on their side."

Senate Republicans banded together in their opposition to the CFPB's structure — they are urging structural changes that include appointment of a board to oversee the agency, and they want the bureau to fall under the congressional appropriations process and allow federal regulators and Congress to provides checks on its actions.

Obama said the bureau was created among other things to "protect American families from being taken advantage of by mortgage lenders, payday lenders and debt collectors."

Those non-bank entities are among those the bureau can't oversee until a director is in place. 

Senate Democrats didn't secure the 60 votes needed to end debate on the nomination and confirm Cordray. Only one Republican, Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) supported Cordray's nomination in the 53-45 tally.

"That doesn’t make any sense," Obama said. "Do Republicans in Congress think our financial crisis was caused by too much oversight of mortgage lenders or debt collectors? Of course not," he said.

"And every day America has to wait for a new consumer protection watchdog is another day that dishonest businesses can target and take advantage of students, seniors and service members."

Obama also called for Congress to remain in session until lawmakers pass a bill to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits that he argues will help the middle class while the economy remains fragile.

"No one should go home for the holidays until we get this done," he said. "America faces a make-or-break moment for the middle class."

House Republicans on Friday released their legislation to extend the payroll tax cut, reform and extend unemployment insurance and delay changes to the Medicare reimbursement rate for doctors.

A vote could come as early as Tuesday. The legislation will add $25.3 billion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

"After the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes, some still want to return to the same policies that got us into this mess," Obama said.

"They’re the same policies that have stacked the deck against working Americans for too long. They’re part of a philosophy that says we’re better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules."


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