Washington Post: Battle Waged Over Consumer Agency

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

For more than three hours Wednesday, supporters and opponents of a new federal agency that would oversee mortgages, credit cards and other consumer financial products dug deeper into their trenches in Room 2128 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Hilary O. Shelton, an NAACP vice president, said the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency “would provide the government with the tools necessary to help consumers navigate and be treated fairly by what is often a confusing and potentially ruinous environment.”

Officials from the Center for Responsible Lending, the Service Employees International Union and the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic advocacy group, offered similar sentiment.

Next up in front of the House Financial Services Committee came representatives of the Independent Community Bankers of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association and the American Financial Services Association. They continued their months-long assault on the administration’s proposal.

“Putting an untested, inexperienced agency in charge of consumer protection for the entire financial marketplace could exacerbate existing problems, rather than reducing them,” said Bill Himpler, AFSA executive vice president.

Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who supports a new regulator, said he plans to move quickly, marking up a bill the week of Oct. 12.

— Brady Dennis