January 4th, 2012
03:13 PM ET
Shaker Heights, Ohio (CNN) - Positioning himself as the defender of the middle class and a protector of American consumers, President Obama raised the ire of Republicans Wednesday announcing his appointment of a new consumer protection bureau chief without waiting for Senate approval.
"Now is not the time to play politics while people’s livelihoods are at stake," President Obama proclaimed at a campaign style rally in the pivotal swing state of Ohio.
The president was joined on stage by former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, Obama’s nominee to head up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In a parliamentary maneuver which side stepped Senate approval, Mr. Obama made a recess appointment of Cordray to the position.
"I'm gonna look for every opportunity to bridge the partisan divide and get things done," the president told a capacity crowd of some 1400 people in the suburban Cleveland Shaker Heights High School gymnasium.
But he made no apology the action. It’s the latest move in the administration-led campaign called "We Can't Wait" which has moved initiatives forward using executive action and side-stepping what the White House has characterized as an obstructionist Congress.
"But when Congress refuses to act and as a result hurts our economy and puts people at risk, I have an obligation as President to do what I can without them," the president told the supportive crowd. "[N]ot when so much is at stake. Not at this make-or-break moment for the middle class Americans we're not gonna let that happen,"
Republican anger was swift. Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus, in a statement, called the recess appointment "an assault on the U.S. Constitution and an unprecedented abuse of executive power."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the White House was in "uncertain legal territory."
A statement from House Speaker John Boehner said he expects "courts will find the appointment to be illegitimate."
In December, all but one Senate Republican voted against Cordray to head the consumer agency saying they did so not in opposition to Cordray but because they felt the agency itself needed changes.