Bloomberg News

Obama Urges Cordray Confirmation and Payroll Tax Cut Passage

December 13, 2011

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama pressed U.S. lawmakers not to “go home for the holidays” until they extend a payroll tax cut and confirm his nominee to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

“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 said in his weekly radio and Internet address today.

The nominee, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, was blocked in the Senate on Dec. 8, falling seven votes shy of the 60 needed to proceed to a roll call on confirmation.

“I refuse to take ‘no’ for an answer,” Obama said today. “Financial institutions have plenty of high-powered lawyers and lobbyists looking out for them. It’s time consumers had someone on their side.”

Obama said a key part of the financial reform law passed last year “was putting in place the first-ever consumer watchdog -- someone whose job it is to protect American families from being taken advantage of by mortgage lenders, payday lenders and debt collectors.”

Cordray would protect Americans from “unscrupulous practices” and, without him in place, people will be vulnerable to the “risky bets” that led to the financial crisis, Obama said.

Obama said the payroll tax cut extension affects about 160 million Americans who would see their tax rates go up next year unless Congress acts. The employee portion of the tax was lowered from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent this year.

No Grinches

Obama urged people to call their members of Congress and say: “Don’t be a Grinch. Tell them to do the right thing for you and for our economy.”

House Speaker John Boehner used the Republican address to highlight his party’s proposals for sparking hiring and accused Democrats of obstructing those measures in the Senate.

Republicans in the House yesterday released their version of legislation to extend a payroll tax cut and expanded unemployment insurance into 2012, a top priority for Obama.

“Because his policies aren’t working, the president has asked Congress to pass legislation that would extend unemployment benefits and payroll tax relief for working Americans,” Boehner, of Ohio, said. “Next week, the House is going to do that.”

The $202.4 billion measure includes a provision expediting approval of TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is emerging as the center of a clash with congressional Democrats and Obama.

Pipeline and Jobs

Moving ahead on the $7 billion pipeline to carry Canadian tar-sands crude through the Great Plains to the Gulf of Mexico would create jobs, Boehner said.

A decision on the project, under review by the State Department, has been put off until early 2013 to review environmental issues. Obama has said he would reject any bill that includes the pipeline provision.

Boehner said there is bipartisan support for extending the payroll tax cut and the additional elements of the legislation, including the Keystone pipeline.

“This is no time for the same-old my-way-or-the-highway theatrics,” Boehner said. “We should get these things done.”

--With assistance from Richard Rubin and Steven Sloan in Washington. Editors: Jim Rubin, Joe Sobczyk.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Andersen Brower in Washington at kandersen7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net


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