Controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Introduced to Florida

Jul 22, 2011

The following article was published in the Sunshine News on July 22, 2011:

Controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Introduced to Florida

By Jolisa Canty

Representatives from the Consumer Federation of the Southeast and Florida Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) announced Thursday in Tallahassee the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to stand up for the American people and hold Wall Street accountable for its actions.

“The good news is that this week there’s a new cop on the beat to protect consumers from predatory lending and financial tricks and traps,” said Brad Ashwell, a consumer advocate with Florida PIRG. “The bad news is that Wall Street banks have asked their friends in Congress to defund and defang the bureau by denying it a director.”

Nevertheless, the bureau will serve as a consumer cop for the public in the financial marketplace, providing protection not only for Floridians, but for citizens nationwide, said Alice Vickers, a Florida Legal Services staff attorney who focuses on consumer issues.

Some of duties of the new bureau are to help stop predatory mortgage lending, minimize the growth of unfair credit card practices and overdraft loans, give the consumers their right to protect themselves in court, back private loan problems, and more.

Nearly 74 percent of all likely voters support “a single agency with the single mission of protecting consumers” from unfair financial practices, and 77 percent want Wall Street held accountable, according to a new poll of 800 likely voters prepared for Americans for Financial Reform, AARP, and the Center for Responsible Lending.

“Consumers in Florida deserve the protection of of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” Vickers said.

According to a press release from Florida PIRG, Florida Legal Services called on the Senate to vote and confirm former Ohio Attorney General Rich Cordray as the bureau’s director, so that the CFPB will be able to provide consumer financial protection for Floridians.

While President Barack Obama nominated Cordray as the bureau’s first director, 44 Senate opponents of the new bureau sent the president a letter threatening to block any nominee to head the bureau unless its powers are decreased and its funding is weakened, regardless of Cordray’s qualifications and his achievement of recovering $2 billion “wrongly taken by Wall Street firms” and returned to Ohio families.

Floridian Walter Dartland, executive director for the Consumer Federation of the Southeast, said, “the middle class is getting screwed royally.”

“The greed of the Wall Street banks and regulatory failures caused a financial collapse that left millions without work, millions more without homes and the rest of us losing trillions of dollars in home values and retirement income,” Dartland said.

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