It’s standard practice to not answer questions from reporters when answering them will detract from the message of the day. That was the case Wednesday, when Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, a former Ohio attorney general and state treasurer, made repeated statements that he wasn’t going to talk about whether he would or would not enter the race for Ohio governor next year.

Cordray, a Democrat, lost his race to continue as Ohio attorney general to Mike DeWine in 2010. Since that loss, he’s been running the CFPB, a federal agency that Republicans in Washington want to shut down. President Donald Trump also has it out for Cordray, wanting to fire him but not being able to do so pending a court ruling.¬†House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling wants Cordray to be fired, while business groups accuse him and his agency of “running amok.”

Reporters on U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s weekly conference call from Washington when the Senate is in session asked Cordray whether he was entering the race. When this reporter asked him if he had met the president or members of his White House staff, the answer was tactical and surgical.

“I’ve had discussions with the administration on various topic, that’s part of job and I will continue to do that,” Cordray said.

When pressed again on whether he’s met the president in person, Cordray retreated to his rhetorical redoubt, “I’m not really going to get into those things today. I’m really here to talk about the arbitration rule. If you have any questions about the arbitration rule, I’m happy to answer them.”

When asked if he had spoken with President Trump or members of the White House staff about the arbitration rule, he said he has spoken with members of the administration, making the case for why this [arbitration] rule is “appropriate and good for the public, and should be defended and upheld.”

Asked a third time about whether he’s spoken specifically about it to the president, he said, “I have not.”

State and national media are chomping at the bit to report that Cordray will return to Ohio and join four Democrats who have declared their candidacy for next year’s open seat for governor, now that Gov. John Kasich is term-limited. Once source media is tracking cited Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill saying Cordray is “…getting ready to run.”

Both Cordray and Brown stuck to the talking point that they were for the right of a consumer to protect themselves, and that mandatory arbitration clauses work against consumers, who won’t be clogging up the court system with lawsuits because the record and a study show consumers don’t litigate their cases.

Health Care

In other news, Brown, who is running for a third term next year, said he’s ready to work with Republicans when they’re ready to stop giving tax cuts to wealthy individuals and big corporations, among other demands as they figure out how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama in 2010.

Serious concerns for Brown include Republican mania to give tax cuts to drug or insurance companies or the richest families in America, then make up for the revenue by cutting Medicaid to working families who have jobs but no insurance.

“We’re not going to do that, so stop trying to do that,” he said.¬†“I can work with Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio’s junior senator) to work bipartisanly on working this, stabilizing insurance markets by continuing subsidies, not playing games with subsidizes.

Brown added that the GOP must withdraw their lawsuit in the House, then “aggressively go after high priced prescription drugs, drugs developed by taxpayers through the National Institute of Health.”

Brown took a shot at Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, calling him the “czar of the senate.” Brown said McConnell and company are “not working for the country clearly.”

He also weigh-ed in on the GOP idea that Washington should block grant Medicaid funds to states. That strategy, he said, “is another way to squeeze Medicaid,” which he reminded reporters on the call that $800 billion in cuts is key to their plan to shutter the ACA.

High among his concerns is what repeal and replacement would do to opioid treatment, funded through Medicaid, and the prospect of “middle-class families running out of money, as they balance care for their parents and school for their children.”

“This McConnell bill would undermine all their efforts,” he said.

Commenting on the so-called “overtime rule” he played a big role in to make it apply to workers who have earned overtime pay but don’t get it, he said he hopes President Trump “would side with workers on this, not side with big employers that outsource jobs.”

 

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