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Bob Herbert: Why Consumers Need a CFPA

July 15, 2009

The papers and airwaves are full of news and views about the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA), as envisioned by Elizabeth Warren, proposed by the Obama administration, and introduced as legislation by House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.  Just this week, the CFPA is the subject of three separate Congressional hearings (see here, here, and here).

At these hearings, as well as in earlier Congressional testimony, consumer advocates such as Gail Hillebrand of Consumers Union, Kathleen Keest of the Center for Responsible Lending, Pat McCoy of the UConn Law School, Ed Mierzwinski of US PIRG, Travis Plunkett of the Consumer Federation of America, and Lauren Saunders of the National Consumer Law Center have presented the case for a CFPA in great detail, and with extensive references to a broad body of evidence.  These contributions to the DC-based policy debate are crucial.

For those who don’t read Congressional testimony – which is almost everyone – New York Times op-ed columnist Bob Herbert has penned a wonderful column that distills the essence of the case for a CFPA.  In the face of this clear need, he marvels at the “Chutzpah on Steroids” of the lending industry’s high-profile campaign against anything that would prevent a return to their business as usual, tricks and traps ways of operation:

The malefactors of great wealth view an informed consumer at Public Enemy No. 1.  The last thing in the world that they want is a fair marketplace, which is why the Consumer Financial Protection Agency can’t come fast enough.

(Photo: New York Times)

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