Jul 25 2011
Just more than a year ago, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, promising the 2,300-page bill would protect consumers and reform Wall Street. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — Just more than a year ago, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act, promising the 2,300-page bill would protect consumers and reform Wall Street. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — one of the act's key components — marked that anniversary Thursday by opening its doors, without the benefit of accountable leadership or robust congressional oversight.
There are real concerns the CFPB's reach could negatively impact the daily lives of Americans, and given the bureau's flawed structure and lack of checks and balances, consumers will have no recourse. From debit cards to auto loans, overregulation by the bureau will increase costs and restrict access to credit for consumers and small businesses — the very entities the agency is charged with protecting.
In May, 44 senators asked President Obama to ensure the bureau is both effective and accountable. We asked that its single director be replaced with a board or commission, similar to the structure of most government agencies charged with financial oversight. We asked that the CFPB go through the annual appropriations process like most federal agencies, rather than allow the director to set his own budget. Finally, we asked that banking regulators — who oversee the safety and soundness of financial institutions — be given meaningful input into the bureau's operations, to help prevent unnecessary restrictions on credit.
All three principles were part of the president's initial design for the agency, yet our request is being falsely labeled as an attempt to kill the bureaucracy in its infancy. The fact is, none of our requests would undo the authorities or responsibilities of the CFPB.
The Senate should not confirm any nominee until reasonable reforms are adopted. This is not about politics. This is about protecting consumers — a goal that should be shared by every policymaker in Washington. The CFPB has more unchecked power and authority than almost any independent agency in history; it must be held accountable. The stakes are too high to get financial reform wrong. The failure to prudently implement the Dodd-Frank Act now will further delay America's economic recovery.