Congressman Ellison, Small Business Owners Voice Support For Consumer Financial Watchdog

CONTACT:  Lauren Weiner, 202-470-5870
DATE: December 9, 2009

Congressman Ellison, Small Business Owners Voice Support For Consumer Financial Watchdog

Ahead Of House Vote On Reform Package, Small Businesses Press The Need For A Strong CFPA

Watch videos of the press conference here.

Washington, DC – Today Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-5) stood side-by-side with Margot Dorfman, CEO, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and two small business owners: Ben Collins, owner of Salins Group, a general contractor company in Charlotte, NC and Tyrone Conard, the owner of The Conard Insurance Agency which has 3 locations in Maryland, to express strong support for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a key provision of the financial regulatory reform package that will be voted on this week. In addition to the participants, Business for Shared Prosperity, American Business Leaders for Financial Reform and the American Sustainable Business Council have also voiced support for the CFPA.

Rep. Keith Ellison: “After the biggest financial tsunami our country has ever face, we have seen help for people who really didn’t seem to need it as much as the average consumer. But now – finally – we’re going to get a bill that’ll help consumers…there is no bright line between consumers and small businesses. One moment you are a small business and the next moment, when you go to get some credit, you’re now a consumer… A fair financial product for a small business means a fair financial product for a consumer.”

Margot Dorfman, CEO, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce: “Our leaders must act swiftly to restore the integrity of our financial institutions and our trust in the use of credit and lending so that we can bring back financial stability and job creation. The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce believes the establishment of a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) is a crucial step in restoring the trust we need to rebuild a thriving American economy. The CFPA will benefit business, especially small businesses, which create most of the nation’s new jobs… Business owners and consumers need the security of knowing that the costs and risks of financial products, services, and lending are fully and fairly disclosed. We need a strong, independent federal agency to promote financial product safety and establish clear enforceable rules of the road.

Ben Collins, Contractor Company Owner, Salins Group, Charlotte, NC: “About six months ago, Bank of America began to significantly reduce the credit limit for my company for no apparent reason or explanation. The primary use of our credit cards is for my employees to go into the field and make charges to get the job done… Small companies like mine who operate on personal credit, not on big corporate credit, are going to be the first line of hiring in this country. If we don’t have the security of knowing we have the capital to operate, it makes all of us very hesitant to add employees…Small business owners really do need protection so we have the confidence to have the financial resources to operate as usual. The more difficult banks make it for us, the slower this economy will really begin to recover and the slower the jobs will be created.”

Watch Ben below:

Tyrone Conard, Owner, The Conard Insurance Agency of Maryland: “As a small business owner I am dependant on a variety of capital; primarily personal lines of credit. I believe the Consumer Financial Protection Agency is a great benefit to small business owners like myself. Why? Because now the rules of finance are all over the board. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency would put an end to the greedy and unfair predatory practices by many financial institutions; including banks and other personal credit providers. I am a businessman and I believe businesses should make a fair profit, however, I am against unfair card rate increases, late fee traps, and other abuses that have stymied my business.”

Heather Booth, Executive Director, Americans for Financial Reform: “Predictably, a lot of the banks and big financial firms don’t like the idea of a consumer agency very much. In fact, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending millions on an ad campaign to kill it. And while the U.S. Chamber of Commerce wants you to believe that they speak for all businesses and that all businesses oppose these reforms, that’s simply not the case. In fact not even all Chambers of Commerce oppose the bill. And many small businesses, who often rely on credit cards and home equity loans to finance their start-up businesses, realize the significant help CFPA would be to operating their businesses.”

Watch more videos here.