Obama defies Republicans with consumer agency pick

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama plans to bypass Congress and install Richard Cordray as head of the country’s new consumer financial watchdog, picking an election-year fight with Republicans who have blocked the nominee.

The move to use a recess appointment, announced by the White House on Wednesday, is being cheered by Democrats and liberal advocacy groups, but it will inflame already bad relations between the White House and Republicans in Congress.

“President Obama, in an unprecedented move, has arrogantly circumvented the American people,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

Republicans, who say the agency itself is a bureaucratic overreach that will hurt the economy, last month blocked a Senate vote on whether to confirm Cordray.

In advance of the 2012 election, the White House has been seeking ways to portray Republicans as obstructionists, and this marks another step Obama is taking to confront objections to his agenda.

The move will likely come with a price, however, as Republicans may now block Obama’s picks for other high-profile financial regulators, with vacancies at the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Rest here…