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Obama presses GOP on consumer watchdog delay

Republicans are blocking the appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Obama says he won't back down on his effort to protect middle-class Americans from deceptive business practices and prevent another financial meltdown. 

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President Obama speaks on the extension of the payroll tax cut and of the Republican obstruction of Richard Cordray's nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the briefing room of the White House December 8, 2011.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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President Barack Obama is pressing congressional Republicans to approve his pick to head a new consumer watchdog office, promising he won't back down on his effort to protect middle-class Americans from deceptive business practices and prevent another financial meltdown.

“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 Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address. "So I refuse to take 'no' for an answer. 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 this week blocked Obama's appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency they said had been given too much power and too little accountability. Without a director, the office designed to shield consumers from the excesses behind the 2008 financial crisis is unable to operate at full strength.

With voters set to begin selecting a Republican presidential nominee in less than a month, Obama suggested the disagreement is another example of two parties who see fairness very differently. He said a consumer watchdog agency is critical to protecting ordinary Americans from the greed of the financial sector.

"Today, America faces a make-or-break moment for the middle class," he said, echoing a theme outlined during a Kansas speech earlier in the week. "I believe that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share and everyone engages in fair play."

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