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Red Tape Chronicles: NBCNews.Com
By
Bob Sullivan

"If the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau disappeared tomorrow, would anyone notice? What is expected to be a contentious Senate Banking Committee confirmation hearing [today] Tuesday for Rich Cordray, who has been temporarily leading the bureau, offers an opportunity to examine the need for a federal agency designed to protect consumers in their financial dealings." [...]

[Bob Sullivan of NBC's Red Tape Chronicles interviews U.S. PIRG's Ed Mierzwinski and George Mason's Todd Zywicki, who] "says the CFPB has become exactly the monster he predicted three years ago when Congress debated its creation. "It's turned out to be an extremely political agency,” he said. “... It's turned out to be really aggressive and arrogant in the way it behaves.”

 [...]

"Taking the opposing view is Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director for the consumer advocacy agency Public Interest Research Group and a vocal supporter of the CFPB creation and of Cordray. He gives the agency an "A-minus" for its work so far and has no trouble rattling off a list of accomplishments in its short life. Among them, he said, the bureau has:

  • Successfully brought enforcement cases against three large credit card issuers for allegedly unfairly "upselling" products such as credit card insurance, and returned $400 million to 6 million U.S. consumers after a settlement.
  • Created new mortgage disclosure documents, promoted awareness among college students about school loan debt and launched a separate effort to protect soldiers and veterans from predatory lenders, all through its “Know Before You Owe” program.

[...] Mierzwinski said the housing bubble and the recession show that the system that was in place didn't work, and says he fears that a diluted CFPB wouldn’t be able to take firm action against the powerful financial services industry."We would lose … the one regulator that has protecting consumers as its only job," he said. "Payday lenders could run roughshod over American consumers again without the CFPB, and credit bureaus wouldn't be brought into line."

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