RELEASE: Advocates Testify for Consumer Financial Product Reform (Testimony Included)


DATE:  June 24, 2009

Leading Organizations Part of the ‘Americans for Financial Reform’ Coalition Advocate for Consumer Financial Products Reform Before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services Today

Advocates Testify That Consumer Financial Products Reform a Fundamental Component Towards Modernizing and Repairing our Financial Regulatory System

Washington D.C. – Three representatives of organizations part of the Americans for Financial Reform, a national coalition of nearly 200 state and local organizations ranging from financial experts to community working to reform the financial system and rebuild our economy, testified today at a hearing on “Regulatory Restructuring: Enhancing Consumer Financial Products Regulation.” before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

Over the past decade, federal bank regulators looked the other way as responsible loans were crowded out of the market by aggressively marketed, tricky financial products carrying hidden costs and fees,” said Kathleen E. Keest, Senior Policy Counsel, Center for Responsible Lending today before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.  “Dangerous products, whose most “innovative” feature was their ability to obscure their true costs and risks, led a race to the bottom that stifled true innovation, deprived consumers of meaningful choice of products, stripped away billions of dollars in hard-earned wealth from millions of Americans, and ultimately led to today’s foreclosure crisis and economic meltdown. The key lesson of this experience is that strong consumer protections are essential to financially sound banks and a healthy economy.”


***To schedule an interview with Kathleen E. Keest, call 202-306-4414***

Joint Testimony from Edmund Mierzwinski, Consumer Program Director, U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Travis Plunkett, Legislative Director, Consumer Federation of America: “In the testimony we present today, we outline the case for establishment of a robust, independent federal Consumer Financial Protection Agency to protect consumers from unfair credit, payment and debt management products, no matter what company or bank sells them and no matter what agency may serve as the prudential regulator for that company or bank. We describe the many failures of the current federal financial regulators. We discuss the need for a return to a system where federal financial protection law serves as a floor not as a ceiling, and consumers are again protected by the three-legged stool of federal protection, state enforcement and private enforcement. We rebut anticipated opposition to the proposal, which we expect will come from the companies and regulators that are part of the system that has failed to protect us. We offer detailed suggestions to shape the development of the agency in the legislative process. We believe that, properly implemented, a Consumer Financial Protection Agency will encourage innovation by financial actors, increase competition in the marketplace and lead to better choices for consumers.”


***To schedule an interview with Travis Plunkett, call 202-387-6121***

***To schedule an interview Edmund Mierzwinski, call 917-509-4575***