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The President's Weekly Address

July 20, 2013

Hi, everybody. Three years ago this weekend, we put into place tough new rules of the road for the financial sector so that irresponsible behavior on the part of a few could never again cause a crisis that harms millions of middle class families.

As part of that reform, we set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the first-ever independent consumer watchdog with one job: to protect families from that sort of behavior.

Two years ago, I nominated a man named Rich Cordray, a former attorney general from Ohio, to run this consumer protection bureau. But Republicans in the Senate refused to give him a simple up-or-down vote, not because they didn't think he was the right person for the job, but because they didn't like the law that set up the consumer watchdog in the first place.

So last year, I acted on my own to put him in charge, because without a Director, the CFPB couldn't use all the tools at its disposal to protect consumers from shady mortgage lenders or unscrupulous credit reporting agencies or predatory lenders who targeted veterans and seniors. And I'm pleased to say that Rich Cordray was finally confirmed this week by a bipartisan vote.

Because of the work that's been done at the CFPB over the past 2 years, today, mortgage lenders, student lenders, payday lenders, and credit reporting and debt collection agencies all face greater scrutiny. And if they don't play by the rules, you now have somewhere to go to get some measure of justice. In fact, the CFPB has already addressed more than 175,000 complaints from every State.

Today, as part of the CFPB's "Know Before You Owe" efforts, students and their parents can get a simple report with the information they need to make informed decisions before taking out student loans, and more than 700 colleges have stepped up to make this information clear and transparent. And if you've noticed that some credit card forms are actually easier to understand than they used to be, that's because of the work that Rich's team and others in the administration have done.

Today, veterans have the tools they need to defend against dishonest lenders and mortgage brokers who try to prey on them when they come home. Seniors are better protected from someone who sees their home or retirement savings as an easy target. And thanks to the hard work of folks at the CFPB, so far 6 million Americans have gotten more than $400 million in refunds from companies that engaged in unscrupulous practices. That's money we didn't have the power to recover before.

You know, we've come a long way over the past 4½ years. Our economy's growing. Our businesses have created 7.2 million new jobs in the past 40 months. We've locked in new safeguards to protect against another crisis and end bailouts for good. And even though more work remains, our financial system is more fair and much more sound than it was.

We've still got a long way to go to restore the sense of security that too many middle class families are still fighting to rebuild. But if we keep moving forward with our eyes fixed on that north star of a growing middle class, then I'm confident we'll get to where we need to go.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.

NOTE: The address was recorded at approximately 4:35 p.m. on July 19 in the Roosevelt Room at the White House for broadcast on July 20. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on July 19, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on July 20.

Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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