Hartford Courant: Proposal Offers Vital Consumer Protection

The Hartford Courant published this op-ed in support of the CFPA.  Here is an excerpt:

Just over 100 years ago, Upton Sinclair‘s expose “The Jungle” shocked the American public with lurid details of Chicago’s unsanitary meat industry. Shortly thereafter the nation’s first food safety laws were passed. Today, when we go to the grocery store, we feel confident that the food we purchase is safe. Few of us give it a second thought, but security stems in part from an effective government agency, the Food and Drug Administration, whose job is to protect consumers from potentially harmful products.

But there’s no agency to protect consumers from dangerous financial products such as subprime mortgages or payday loans. As we’ve learned in the past year, these products not only cause harm to individual consumers; they can have a cumulative effect on our economy that is nothing short of devastating.

That’s why there’s legislation in Congress to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency responsible for making sure financial products are safe and responsible. If the FDA can recall peanut butter infected with salmonella, why not have an agency that can take predatory loans off the market?

Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation to establish the new agency. Now it heads to the Senate, where Sen. Christopher Dodd will play a critical role.

Having just announced his retirement, Sen. Dodd no longer needs to balance the interests of campaign fundraising and political messaging. He can focus on passing the best policy.

Whatever critics might say about his recent tumble in the polls, Dodd’s career has long focused on a desire to make our economy work better for the majority of ordinary Americans. From his pioneering work on the Family Medical Leave Act to his more recent leadership in health care reform and paid sick days legislation, Sen. Dodd’s track record has often been about protecting working families.

By continuing to lead the charge on financial reform, Sen. Dodd can ensure that his legacy is that of a champion for regular people. Passing strong legislation will require Sen. Dodd to stand up to powerful interests — the same interests with which he has been accused of being too cozy.

The banking industry has amassed an army of lobbyists in an effort to defeat reform. Wall Street wheelers-dealers profited greatly from these dangerous financial products — often at the expense of consumers. They got propped up by billions in taxpayer funds, and continue to give themselves eye-popping bonuses. So it’s no surprise to see the industry flex its lobbying muscles to preserve the status quo.