So long as Congress keeps allowing institutions to shop around for the regulator that regulates least -- rather than applying across-the-board rules for each product type regardless of who issues it -- there will be no agency that provides real accountability over the consumer practices of the big banks. The agencies that do have consumer protection authority will continue to chip away at rules in order to attract institutions to regulate and preserve the fees that come with them.
That is why a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency is crucial. We need an agency that sees consumers, not banks, as its constituents. It also needs enough power to prevent financial institutions from leaving its jurisdiction in search of fairer regulatory pastures.
And, guess who is trying to water down real consumer protections and carry water for the banks?
The amendments proposed by Senate Republicans would fail to accomplish these goals. The details have varied from bill to bill, but the ideas remain the same.
The GOP wants to put the agency under the thumb of existing regulators who have already shown how seriously they take consumer protection. And the Republicans want to dilute the agency’s mission to protect consumers with an obligation not to interfere with bank “safety and soundness,” a phrase that has been manipulated by Wall Street and its allies to exclude meaningful reform.
Fortunately, the Senate has rejected these proposals so far. But the GOP and Wall Street lobbyists will keep trying. Senate Democrats must ensure that good sense prevails.
If the Republicans successfully dilute the power of the consumer financial protection body in this way, we will end up with more of what we have always had: regulators who lack either the appetite or the authority for reining in the risky lending practices that got us into the current financial crisis.
The Republicans are standing with Wall Street and the banksters. Is that where you stand?