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Financial Reform

During this growing financial crisis, the government’s intervention and regulatory restructuring should include protections for taxpayers and consumers.

Thanks to an incredible amount of consumer grassroots activism combined with Consumers Union and huge coalition of advocacy groups passed a bill that is a “game-changer”, a much-needed reform package to prevent the abuses and irresponsible risks taken by financial institutions that helped spark the economic crisis.

The key provision of the bill for consumers is the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will oversee financial products and services such as mortgages, credit cards, payday loans, check cashing, and private student loans, whether those products are provided by a bank or another type of financial service provider.

The next steps are important to make sure that consumers get the benefit we all deserve from the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and from the Wall Street reform bill. For example:

• The President will have to appoint the director of the CFPB.

• The President will be choosing a new head of the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, the agency that still oversees national banks for non-consumer issues, such as whether they are taking too many risks.

• The Federal Reserve Board and other existing banking agencies have to start regulations on key economic issues such as how much strength to require for banks and systemically important non-banks so that they don’t bring down the financial system.

• The banking regulators will have to define which mortgages are so safe that they won’t invoke a requirement that the securitizer keep some of the risk of those mortgages.

• When the CFPB gets up and running, it will be able to define particular practices as deceptive, abusive, or unfair, and to say that those practices have to stop.

• Your state legislature can consider passing new consumer protections that will finally apply to subsidiaries and affiliates of national banks, and in some cases to the national banks themselves.

Here is the full text of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act