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CU urges House to pass strong CFPA

December 10, 2009

Consumers Union Urges House to Support a Strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency
in Financial Regulatory Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Jim Guest, President and CEO of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, today urged lawmakers in the House to support the creation of a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) as part of financial industry regulatory legislation. In a letter to Congress, the group called on members to enact the CFPA to rein in abusive lending and financial industry practices that undermine American families and the economy. Consumers Union also urged the House to reject any amendment to kill the proposed agency.
“Consumers have paid a very steep price for years of weak federal oversight of unscrupulous banking and lending practices,” said Jim Guest, “It’s time for Congress to put an end to do-nothing financial industry oversight and make sure that consumers have a real watchdog looking out for their interests.”
Consumers Union also supports the reforms the bill provides to require financial institutions to meet stronger capital requirements, for more active regulatory oversight of banks and other financial institutions, enhanced investor protection, and for a specific federal regulator to determine when companies or practices could pose a risk to the financial system.
A copy of Consumers Union’s letter to House members follows:
December 9, 2009
Dear Representative:
Consumer’s Union, the non-profit publishers of Consumer Report respectfully urges you to vote “yes” for the final passage of the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2009”, H.R. 4173 which creates the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) and allows states to enforce consumer laws. Consumers Union also supports stronger oversight of financial institutions and of entities that could pose a systemic risk.
Consumers Union is working hard to ensure that the government’s financial intervention and regulatory restructuring includes protections for taxpayers and consumers. U.S. consumers deserve better than a system that has delivered confusing products, gotcha terms and toxic features in financial products. All those with regulatory responsibility should be vigilant in protecting consumers and have the ability to enforce consumer laws.
The CFPA will unite consumer protection rules under one roof. It will be the one federal agency with the job of drafting consumer protection regulations for the variety of existing federal statues and the authority to determine whether products, features, or practices are unfair, deceptive, abusive or unsustainable. This consolidated approach to consumer protection will promote honest competition, protect the economy, and most importantly provide a safety net for consumers. Moreover, this new agency will ensure that there is a quick response to emerging harmful practices, before they undermine a family’s financial stability or become a systemic risk.
We ask that you pass this important piece of legislation in a form which gives the new agency authority over all forms of credit, deposit, and payment products and services offered to consumers. We urge you to reject all amendments that would add new exemptions from the CFPA, or give greater preemption. H.R. 4173 should not hamstring states’ ability to develop and enforce consumer protections.
Please look out for consumers’ interest when it comes to financial products and crack down on abusive lending tactics that hurt our wallets and destabilize our economy. Support H.R. 4173, and the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency with no further exemptions for industry participants. Reject amendments that would erode states’ ability to protect its citizens. No pre-emption. Give consumers a fair shake when it comes to financial products and services. We need your support.
Pamela Banks
Senior Counsel
Consumers Union
Contact: David Butler or Kristina Edmunson 202-462-6262