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Ohio PIRG Explains “Game-Changer” Proposal To Reinstate Federal Financial Laws As Pro-Consumer Floor

Letter Shows Bankers Prefer “Failed Business As Usual System”
For Immediate Release

Columbus – At the epicenter of the worldwide financial collapse was a lack of consumer protection that can best be remedied by establishing a “game-changer agency with only one job, protecting consumers” while simultaneously reinstating federal law as a floor not a ceiling of protection, according to Ohio PIRG Associate Manfred Mecoy. 

At a tele-news-conference today, Mecoy was joined by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray who explained that the Obama-backed Congressional proposal to establish a Consumer Financial Protection Agency would also allow state attorneys general to once again vigorously defend the public against unfair financial practices. That authority had been drastically restricted by federal agency preemption rulings prior to the crisis.

“Since the financial crisis peaked in 2008, banks have been bailed out with billions of dollars of taxpayer funds but haven’t increased lending and haven’t stopped increasing unfair credit card and deposit account fees on consumers and small businesses,” said Mecoy. “The solution is to create the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, a game-changer agency with only one job, protecting consumers.”

“Banks and big corporations are mounting a massive campaign to preserve the failed business as usual financial system,” added Ed Mierzwinski, Ohio PIRG’s federal Consumer Program Director, also on the call. “One of the top bank lobbyists says their goal is nothing less than ‘to kill’ the new consumer agency. They don’t have the money to make loans, but they do seem to have enough money to lobby against what could be the biggest reform since deposit insurance in the 1930s.”

The proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency is based on an idea from Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren. If enacted, it would consolidate all consumer protection activities involving over 20 laws and at least 7 agencies into one agency only responsible for consumer protection, while also redefining federal law as a floor not ceiling of protection and re-establishing the right of state attorneys general to enforce federal financial laws.

“We have an agency to keep toasters from exploding, but we don’t have one to keep credit cards and mortgages from exploding,” concluded Mecoy of Ohio PIRG.

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