Financial watchdog: It’s déjà vu all over again

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We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Friday, February 22nd, 2013

A minority of Senators are again holding hostage the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau until they can significantly weaken the watchdog’s authority to protect the public.

Consumers may remember this fight from the past two years, when Richard Cordray’s nomination to head the bureau was indefinitely held up. President Obama broke the stalemate by putting Cordray in the post in January 2012 with a recess appointment. But Cordray’s term is up at the end of this year, and his nomination is again being used to limit the watchdog’s independence.

These Senators want the CFPB to be the only bank regulator to be subjected to the highly politicized Congressional funding process; replace its director with a five-member commission; and let other bank regulators (those who failed to prevent the economic meltdown) veto the CFPB’s decisions.

These proposals would make Wall Street extremely happy, but would hamstring the bureau’s ability to quickly respond to financial abuses and protect consumers from the latest scheme.

Since taking the bureau’s helm, Cordray has overseen enforcement actions that have returned $425 million to more than 6 million consumers lured into purchasing products that they did not need or understand.

In addition, the bureau has resolved 133,000 consumer complaints over those issues that directly impact our wallets: credit card disputes, mortgage scams, bank account services and onerous student loan terms. The CFPB also has become a fierce advocate for servicemembers, veterans and their families. Prior to the creation of the bureau, consumers didn’t have a one-stop watchdog that would look out for them, and the CFPB continues to enjoy broad public support.

Given the critical importance of having a fair, strong leader to protect consumers – the bureau already proposed rules that lenders must ensure buyers can repay their mortgages, and made credit card and student aid offers easier to understand – Cordray’s should be confirmed without delay.

The last thing consumers or financial markets need is the uncertainty caused by political brinksmanship. We hope you will join us as we continue to fight for a strong consumer watchdog that puts your interests before Wall Street.

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