Consumer groups fret over Dodd plan
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KAI RYSSDAL: Congress, as Stacey mentioned, passed a credit-card bill this past summer, as part of the broad push for financial reform. Well that effort may be narrowing a good bit. There’s talk on Capitol Hill today that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd is thinking about scrapping plans for a stand-alone Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
We asked Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall Genzer what, if anything, might take its place.
Nancy Marshall Genzer: Senator Dodd, a Democrat from Conn., initially proposed the Consumer Financial Protection Agency last fall. It was part of financial reform legislation. The agency would have regulated things like credit cards and mortgages. Banks lobbied heavily against the idea. Dodd couldn’t get enough votes for a bill including a consumer agency.
Now, word is he’s willing to compromise. No consumer agency — just expanded powers for existing bank regulators to protect consumers.
Susan Weinstock: That’s the status quo.
Susan Weinstock is with the Consumer Federation of America.
Weinstock: That’s what we have now, and that’s one of the reasons why we’re in the financial mess we’re in now, because the regulators could have, but chose not to, go ahead and enforce the law.
But banks say existing regulators would protect consumers. They say too much regulation would stifle the free flow of money.
Scott Talbott is head lobbyist at the Financial Services Roundtable. He says Dodd has to compromise, and he’s now in a position to do so, because he’s not running for re-election.
Scott Talbott: He does not longer have to check over his shoulder to see how any decision or any provision would play in Connecticut. And so that frees him up to vote his mind, to vote his conscience.
Ira Rheingold doesn’t see it that way. He’s executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates.
Ira Rhiengold: Senator Dodd wants to get a deal done. He’s more concerned about making a deal than actually making a deal that is going to work for consumers.
The result, Rheingold says, is financial reform with no reform in it.
In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.
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