Fighting for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency till our teeth are smashed out

As we’ve discussed here in the past, if we’re to avoid financial disasters in the future, it’s absolutely essential that the banking reform bill presently being discussed within the Senate Banking Committee establish a strong, independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Unfortunately, it looks as though some Democrats might be willing to trade it away in the name of bipartisanship. Here’s a clip from tomorrow’s LA Times:

…Creating a powerful and independent consumer agency, which is strongly opposed by the financial industry and Republicans, has been the major roadblock in drafting a bill that could pass in the Senate. Desperate to surmount that hurdle as this year’s legislative clock winds down, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) floated the idea this week of putting the new agency in the Federal Reserve…

Where, I should point out, it would essentially be answerable to Wall Street. Here, on that subject, is more from the LA Times:

…Dodd himself and other supporters of the consumer agency have criticized the Fed’s previous inaction as a main reason for creating such an entity, noting that the central bank took 14 years before enacting rules in 2008 to protect consumers from unscrupulous mortgage lending…

Fortunately for us, Elizabeth Warren, the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the U.S. banking bailout, isn’t sitting quietly on the sidelines. No, the 60 year old Harvard Law professor is urging Democrats to fight, even if it means getting some teeth shattered and losing some blood. Here’s a clip from the Huffington Post, where Warren was interviewed today:

…”My first choice is a strong consumer agency,” the Harvard Law professor and federal bailout watchdog said in an interview with the Huffington Post. “My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.”

There’s been a steady leak of Senate proposals to fix the dysfunctional way federal regulators protect consumers from abusive lenders. One was an independent unit housed within the Treasury Department; another was a new entity, housed in the Federal Reserve, with little independence or power.

The Senate shouldn’t waste its time, asserts Warren, explaining that current proposals fail to address some of her key priorities such as arming the proposed agency with independent rule-making authority, without interference by bank regulators.

“My 99th choice is some mouthful of mush that doesn’t get the job done,” Warren said…

I like Elizabeth Warren, and hope that her message is getting through to members of the Senate Banking Committee. (To contact your Senators, just click here.)

I can understand why the Wall Street firms would fight tooth and nail to undermine the creation of an independent watchdog organization, but I don’t get why the Republicans are so anxious to shoot down the idea. I mean, I know that they’re dependent on the support of these firms, and beholden to their lobbyists, but it seems to me that it would be a difficult vote to explain to one’s constituents. Sure, they may be inclined to think the establishment of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency is “anti-business” or, worse yet, “a step toward Socialism,” but I’ve got to think that they’d be willing to put those concerns aside if they understood that this entity would ensure that their credit card companies couldn’t jack their finance rates up 30% with no notice. But maybe I’m giving them too much credit. I suppose it’s possible, in some places, that people love Capitalism so damn much that they don’t mind being fucked by corporations.

And, on that happy note, here’s a little documentary video footage shot last night in White House… It seems as though our last six Presidents – even the dead ones – want a Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

[note: This post violates my No Chevy Chase rule. I’m sincerely sorry about that.]

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  1. Old School Xtian
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps this would be a good time to engage tea baggers and religious conservatives hellbent on returning America to its puritan roots?

    (The above link is long. See here for an the abbreviated history of usury.)

    Of course, we could all just stop using our credit cards, if we really cared enough. (Or do we love our credit cards so much that we’re willing to let others get fucked.) Seriously, how much can we claim to care if we carry the cards no matter the consequence?

    With a little effort, plastic money could have the social stigma of plastic bags. Dear readers, please reconsider paper.

  2. Old School Xtian
    Posted March 3, 2010 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    My bad! The first link was supposed to take you here, to the Christian Century article.

  3. EOS
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    Once again – the Democrats control the Presidency and both Houses. Anything that does or doesn’t happen is entirely owned by the Democrats. It’s time to try a tactic other than pointing to the other party as blame for everything.

  4. Posted March 4, 2010 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    I agree with you for once, EOS. We should immediately stop trying to be bipartisan when it comes to issues of great national importance, and focus on pursuing the will of the people. And the will of the people is that we reign in big banks and protect average Americans.

  5. Anonymatt
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The last time I visited Mark and Linette, Mark made me watch Foul Play on his Tivo.

  6. Kim
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I figured that this chart, showing what liberals say, as opposed to what conservatives hear, probably belonged here:

  7. Ebberwhite Woods
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    If only there were a way to channel the anger of the tea partiers toward the CEOs of these financial institutions.

  8. Posted March 4, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    What Anonymatt has said is true. I did force him against his will to watch Foul Play, as I do all of my house guests. I find that I can learn a lot about a person by the way he or she reacts. I have them hooked up with electrodes during the viewing too, collecting all the data. And then, at the end of the night, my algorithm tells me whether or not they can remain a friend. It’s quite scientific. I’ve also tried it with the Robin William’s movie Patch Adams, but the results aren’t as good.

  9. Old School Xtian
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Anyone willing to consider choosing paper over plastic?

  10. Lacy
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Hey! Don’t smash your teeth and ruin that pretty smile! Cut up your credit cards. (Unless smashing teeth is a metaphor for feigning frustration while doing nothing. Then smash away!)

    Seriously, can you talk about being angry enough to smash your teeth when you’re not even angry enough to use a safe, universally accepted, cheaper and readily available alternative to credit cards (aka cash)? It’s good for local business and lowers prices for the poor!

    A gentle suggestion, instead of a false post calling for false teeth, try a real one calling readers to stop using credit cards.

  11. Hot Knuckle Lover
    Posted March 4, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Tooth Fairy pays cash for teeth. That means something.

  12. Edward
    Posted March 8, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Has anyone heard how many in Congress have signed off on the this?

  13. Meta
    Posted March 9, 2010 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Form the New York Times:

    Top Story: So Where’s Consumer Protection?

    The fate of the proposed consumer protection agency remains the biggest
    question mark in the proposed overhaul of the finance industry, The New
    York Times’s Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in his latest DealBook column.

    The Obama administration first proposed the idea of an independent
    watchdog for consumers to safeguard the citizenry from predatory
    lenders and fine print.

    Now, Mr. Sorkin writes, Congress needs to decide if the consumer
    protection agency should have true independence — in effect, its own
    street address — as many Democrats believe it should, so that it has
    real power to act on its own? Or should it be given the equivalent of
    a room in the basement of the Fed, next to the janitor’s closet — as
    the bankers themselves and many Republicans would prefer?

    Go to Column from The New York Times:

  14. Posted July 15, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Apparently, Geithner is against the nomination of Elizabeth Warren to run the soon to be established Consumer Financial Protection Agency… I cannot imagine a better reason to appoint her immediately.

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