What made the latest congressional hearings on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau different from other hearings? A delegation of consumer advocates from around the country wearing lime-green t-shirts that said “Stand Up for the CFPB” and “The CFPB Has My Back.” They were there to remind lawmakers that the great majority of Americans, across party lines, don’t just like the idea of such an agency; they also support the major steps it has taken to bring a sense of fair play to the financial marketplace.
“Department enforcement plays a critical role in ensuring banks and payment processors meet [their] legal obligations,” the lawmakers say in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. “Unfortunately, recent cases demonstrate the seriousness of the consequences when those obligations are not met. Accordingly, we urge the Department to enforce vigorously applicable laws pertaining to payment fraud, money-laundering, and other illegal payments…”
“Though small compared to Wall Street and the right, groups like Americans for Financial Reform and Better Markets show up extensively in the comments on the Volcker Rule. In the final rule, there are hundreds of references to the detailed comment letter the Occupy the SEC group sent…” The work of these outside groups “is a major piece of what makes solid final rules happen.”
While many in Washington would rather stand pat or turn back the clock, Americans are strikingly united in wanting more financial reform, not less, according to a national survey of likely voters conducted this summer.
Congress will soon be back from recess – and back to gnashing its teeth over the budget and the various important things that, too many in that branch of government now contend, our country can no longer afford to do. They could expand their sense of the possible by considering a source of revenue they have so far largely ignored – a small tax on sales of stocks, bonds, and complex financial instruments.
In today’s global financial markets, risk is not bounded by geographic borders but instead flows to whatever entity is ultimately liable for a transaction. While the CFTC hasmoved forward in the face of intense industry pressure, its guidance leaves some doubt about a potential cross-border loophole.
The Consumer Bureau is a place to go for anyone with a problem involving a mortgage, a student loan, a credit card, a bank account, a car loan, a money transfer, or a credit report.
With too many in Washington once again echoing the “What’s good for us is good for America” mantra of Wall Street, the Senate’s new findings should shred any argument for retreat from key reforms.