Consumer bureau launch gets messy

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

Washington can move efficiently when it wants to -- usually after a high-profile crisis. But launching the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau shows how the regulatory process can bog down and move in fits and starts, when it moves at all.

First came the credit crisis and the financial meltdown. Then came the run-up to Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform and with it the controversy about whether the new bureau would have jurisdiction over auto dealerships. That was followed by a whole year in which the CFPB had an interim director, Harvard law Professor Elizabeth Warren.

Both sides apparently concluded that she is politically unacceptable to get the job permanently. So this week President Obama nominated former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray. The one hard deadline in the process was supposed to be the so-called transfer date. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was to start up in earnest on July 21.

But the law requires that a director be confirmed first. Getting Cordray confirmed could be tough. Senate Republicans say they first want to restructure the CFPB -- before it's even in business.

To put the situation in a more positive light you could say our system of checks and balances is kicking in.

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