Consumer Bill In Trouble

Consumers have been battered by the fall of the economy, and a great deal of the blame for the collapse can be laid squarely on banks and other large financial institutions. Having been saved by the federal government bailout, many are now opposing reforms which would protect consumers and help prevent these disasters from happening again.
Tomorrow, the House Financial Services Committee will take up a number of reforms proposed by the Obama administration. Among the proposals the committee will tackle is the establishment of a new consumer financial protection agency.
As proposed the new agency would regulate mortgages, credit cards, debit cards, installment loans and any other product issued by a financial institution. However, leading the opposition to this new agency which would protect consumers is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Make no mistake about it, this is not your local Chamber which fosters new business and donates to charitable causes.
At the national level the Chamber is a well oiled lobbying machine willing to spend millions and do whatever it takes to protect the large insurance companies and mega corporations which control it. The goal of this Chamber is entirely anti-consumer.
Confronting the chamber head on, president Obama stated “ They’re doing what they always do- descending on Congress and using every bit of influence they have to maintain the status quo that has maximized their profits at the expense of American consumers.”
Even liberal democratic Congressman Barney Frank, who is chairman of the committee considering the bill, has been swayed by the threat of the Chamber’s influence. Fearing that he may not have the votes to get the proposed bill out of committee, he has made a number of substantial changes which weaken the bill. He stripped the bill of the much-promoted “plain vanilla” provision, which would have forced mortgage brokers to offer customers a 30-year fixed mortgage alongside any exotic option A.R.M. mortgage they wanted to push.
He changed the nature of an oversight panel, so that it would consist of the top bank regulators, the very same regulators who allowed the housing crisis to occur. He altered the way the agency will be financed, making it less onerous for the banking industry and more onerous for nonbank financial institutions. And, almost incredibly, due to Chamber pressure, he abandoned the reasonableness standard, which would have forced bankers to make sure their customers both understood the products they were buying and could afford them.
Even with these changes the Chamber continues its multimillion dollar campaign to scuttle this important legislation. This issue is so important to the country that every citizen should contact their Representative in Congress to urge passage. You can be sure the Chamber already pressured them to defeat it.

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