Economy 4.0

Storming the Capital: A CFPB Walking Tour

Dash Wasserman Jul 20, 2011

David Brancaccio travels to Washington to see the institutions interested in the powerful new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

View David Brancaccio’s Walking Tour in a larger map

David starts his walking tour of Washington at the American Banker’s Association and then strolls down criss-crossing streets to find out who else is concerned with the CFPB and its new powers.

David Brancaccio: On Connecticut Avenue near L Street, across from the historic Mayflower Hotel, is the not so historic Bender Building that is home to the American Bankers Association, lobbyists to the banking industry. They think the new financial protection bureau’s power need to be rolled back and they have a lot of money to be spend on getting their point across to members of congress.



American Bankers Association, 1120 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20036


After passing the honorable Old Ebbitt Grill, David greets tourists standing outside the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Just beyond these doors is a place called the Cash Room where periodically the Financial Stability Oversight Council meets. This is a small group of the top regulators in the country including the treasury secretary and the chair of the Federal Reserve Board. This council has the power to veto regulations coming out of the new consumer protection agency.



Department of the Treasury,
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20229


And not far from the White House, David visits the CFPB’s new offices at 17th and G Street.

It’s supposed to be on the lookout so that consumers don’t get victimized by what the law called “unfair, deceptive and abusive financial services”–things like loans, real-estate banking, you name it. For this new outfit to have power, supporters say it needs to be independent from the typical meddling of Congress and other parts of the Washington power structure. But just how independent will it be?



Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
1700 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20552


Then David takes a stroll to the Federal Reserve.

Under the law, a fixed percentage of the Fed’s budget is supposed to go to fund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — at least in theory.



U.S. Federal Reserve,
2000 L Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036


Finally, David meanders along the National Mall, making his way to the U.S. Capitol, the political heart of the financial regulatory world.

The power of the purse strings in Washington, traces to this point: The corner of First at East Capitol streets. I’m looking at the dome of the U.S. Capitol, but inside it’s the appropriations committees who typically decide in Washington who gets money and just how much.



U.S. Capitol,
First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20004


Out of breath yet? The political landscape of Washington is a muggy one, full of beautiful monuments and wide-eyed tourists. The real question at hand: will the nation’s capitol be home to sustainable financial regulation through institutions such as the CFPB?

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