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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