Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Elizabeth Warren discusses the need for clear contracts and common sense reforms at Rep. Van Hollen's Consumer Protection event

MCRC had a great night meeting consumers, sharing information and learning from consumer protection leaders at the financial forum Rep. Chris Van Hollen hosted in Silver Spring Tuesday night.
MCRC staff met hundreds of consumers and shared information about how to buy a used car, the debt settlement industry, our legislative victories in Annapolis, our new documentary film on victims of financial fraud as well as ways to keep abreast of consumer issues in Maryland.
Presidential adviser Elizabeth Warren’s spoke about the financial challenges facing middle-class and working-class families and the important role the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can play in redressing those challenges. Professor Warren powerfully and clearly explained how 30 years of wage stagnation coupled with the rise of predatory financial and mortgage-lending practices led to the financial crisis that caused the most serious recession in the last 70 years. First, falling incomes pushed more and more families to go deep into debt, not only to maintain their standard of living but to pay big bills for medical care, education and other basic needs. Then, a deregulated lending industry used low up-front costs to entice millions of families into mortgage deals whose rising rates many families simply could not afford. Ultimately those deals crashed the nation’s economy, Warren insisted, “one bad mortgage at a time.”
Warren spoke passionately about the need for a federal regulatory agency whose first job is to protect consumers – rather than the bankers – and about her work to get the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) off the ground.
Rep. Van Hollen strongly endorsed the CFPB and won great applause when he called on President Obama to appoint Ms. Warren to lead it, even if he has to name her as a recess appointment to get around the opposition of congressional Republicans hostile to Ms. Warren and the CFPB.
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, Director of the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection (and MCRC Board Member) Eric Friedman and representatives from the Federal Trade Commission and the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office  also explained their consumer protection work to the large and attentive crowd and took questions about consumer concerns.
With so many fine speakers and engaged citizens on hand, the forum was a lively learning experience for all of us. Thanks to Rep. Van Hollen and the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection for hosting the forum and for inviting us to participate.


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