Wednesday, July 20, 2011

MCRC and other consumer advocates celebrate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and call for full funding and the appointment of a director

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Below are the remarks I made today at a press event in Baltimore calling for the ufll funding of the CFPB and the appointment of a director for the agency.

Remarks for CFPB Anniversary
Marceline White, Executive Director, Maryland Consumer Rights Coaltion (MCRC)
July 20, 2011
Good morning. My name is Marceline White, and I am the Executive Director of the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition (MCRC). MCRC is a statewide consumer coalition that advances and protects fairness and justice for Maryland consumers through research, education, and advocacy. 
Needless to say, given our mission, I’m delighted to be here today. MCRC advocates for statewide policies that protect Maryland families. Recently we produced a film “Stealing Trust” which captures the voices of hard-working Marylanders who’ve lost their homes, their life savings, and their capacity to trust others to mortgage lenders, debt settlement companies, and unscrupulous home contractors. 
The Marylanders in our film illustrate the need for stronger oversight and regulations. Despite playing by the rules, they lost everything to unscrupulous businesses. No one was watching out for their interests. The CFPB will. It has a simple mandate-provide American families with the information they need to make clear choices about financial products.
Maryland families, like those across the country, have been hard-hit by the economic recession. Families that are struggling to do the right thing-save their homes, pay off their debts, and maintain good credit-find themsleves further and further behind. Today, many Maryland families that work hard and play by the rules find themselves a divorce, a death, a job loss, or a medical emergency away from poverty.
It is abundantly clear that the unregulated markets may work for Wall Street but not for the majority of Maryland families. We need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau so that there is an agency looking out for our financial health so that we can continue to work hard and build assets, rather than lose our assets to peddlers of dangerous financial products which were designed to deceive. 
Congress has a clear choice-they can confirm a director so that the CFPB can do the work that it was mandated to do, or they can stall progress for millions of families around the country. Main Street has spoken and it supports this new agency-the question remains whether or the Congress which bailed out millionaires and banks will now attend to the the needs of millions of working families. 
MCRC believe that the following areas are critical ones for the CFPB to address:
  • Research into disparate impacts-there has been some research into the disparate impacts of foreclosures based on race, sex, ethnicity and geography. This type of research is critical and should be employed in all sectors so that policymakers can use the data to design appropriate policies and programs.
  • Clear contracts-contracts should be simple and accessible so that consumers can make a real, informed choices. No one should have to be a lawyer or have a Ph.D to understand their mortgage or their credit card statement.
  • Accountability and Consequences-if consumers fail, we face consequences-we lose our homes; our credit scores decline, our wages are garnished. Banks, lenders, financial institutions and others need to be held accountable for their mistakes and face meaningful consequences.
MCRC will continue to advocate for Maryland consumers and partner with state leaders and others to promote the work of the CFPB.
Thank you

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Elizabeth Warren in Baltimore-Support the CFPB and follow their work

We had a great night at last Thursday’s Town Hall event featuring White House adviser Elizabeth Warren, as more than 400 Marylanders crowded in to Baltimore’s downtown public library to give a hero’s welcome to Professor Warren, MCRC Executive Director Elizabeth Warren and the other consumer advocates at the forum hosted by Rep. Elijah Cummings 
 The large and enthusiastic crowd spilled out even of the overflow room the library created for the event as it gave several standing ovations to the architect of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Here’s a link to The Sun’s article on the “rock star treatment” the crowd gave Prof. Warren:
MCRC Executive Director Marceline White won strong applause for her remarks on MCRC’s work to protect Maryland consumers and on what the new CFPB can do to help consumers most. She told the crowd about our new documentary film “Stealing Trust” on victims of financial fraud in Maryland and gave copies of the film to Prof. Warren, Rep. Elijah Cummings and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown as “a reminder as you fight for the Consumer Protection Bureau of who you are fighting for.” You can read Marceline’s remarks here:
Two of the consumers featured in our film, Kevin Matthews and Lee Tarver, were also on hand to lend the weight of their personal stories of abuse by financial predators to the case for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The forum also gave MCRC staff people a chance to meet dozens of consumers and hear their own concerns and complaints.
In her remarks last Thursday, Prof. Warren stressed that one of the best ways consumers can support her work and support the new CFPB is to go the agency’s website and contribute to its work. You can check out the CFPB’s web site here:
You can also learn more about the stories Kevin Matthews, Lee Tarver and the other consumers featured in our film “Stealing Trust” have to tell by attending one of our upcoming film screenings. The next presentation is just days away. It will happen:
  • Monday July 11 at 6 p.m. at the Southeast Anchor Library, 3601 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD.
Other July film screenings include:
  • Monday July 25 at Noon at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 503 N. Charles St., Baltimore MD.
  • Tuesday July 26 at 7 pm at the Montgomery County Civic Building, One Veteran’s Plaza, Silver Spring MD.

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