“Consumer Financial Protections Bureau: Safeguarding Main Street”

This weekend marks the third anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), legislation designed to prevent another financial disaster caused by the deregulation of Wall Street. One of the goals of Dodd-Frank was to safeguard consumers from predatory and abusive practices in the financial service industry. To take on this task, Dodd-Frank created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

The CFPB is an example of good government that puts people first by instituting effective standards to safeguard American families from threats that are too big for any individual to fight alone. These standards, when enforced by the CFPB ,don’t just help people, they make our economy more stable. Unregulated and risky practices led to the financial crash of 2008 that helped throw the economy into a tailspin and resulted in the loss of 8 million jobs and double-digit unemployment. Lost consumer confidence and unregulated financial markets are the biggest job killers of all. Dodd-Frank and the CFPB exist because our financial products, just like children’s toys and the airlines, should be safe.

And the agency has been the consumer’s bulwark against the abusive and often predatory interests of large banks, corporations and financial firms. It encourages a level playing field and integrity in the markets by holding powerful interests accountable.  Thanks to the CFPB, $425 million has been returned to consumers who were subjected to deceptive practices.

On Tuesday, Richard Cordray was confirmed as the director of the CFPB. His qualifications are undisputed. However, Cordray has waited nearly two years to be confirmed as the director. The holdup wasn’t because of a controversy of character or qualifications or because of public concern; according to the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 74 percent of consumers supported the approval of a director. The holdup came from a group of senators who sought to stall the agency from doing the very work it was created to do.

The confirmation, finally, of a CFPB director is a step forward for our system of safeguards. We deserve a regulatory system that puts people ahead of profits and empowers regulators to hold offenders accountable. But more than that, we need standards, safeguards and agencies like the CFPB so that everyone who plays by the rules can build a better future for themselves and their families.

For more background on the US Senate’s delay to confirm Richard Cordray, check out Enough Already: Confirm Cordray from the Dēmos Policy Shop Blog.

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