Editor’s Note: Each week we repost an excerpt of Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column on WashingtonPost.com.
Even before Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau take on the most deceptive, exploitative consumer rip-offs in the financial services industry, Republicans are maneuvering to make the mission extremely difficult—if not downright impossible.
Witness House Republican efforts to deny funding to the Treasury Department and Warren during the period when they are tasked with getting the bureau up and running. And Sen. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said he’d want to "revisit"—meaning emasculate—the financial reform bill if the GOP regains the majority in Congress in November. "The consumer agency bothers me the most," Shelby said. "I thought the creation of it and the way it was created was a mistake."
That’s why the remarkable coalition that took on the financial titans during the reform debate, and then successfully waged a campaign for Warren’s appointment to build the bureau, now needs to reinvigorate its effort to create a truly strong and independent agency.
At the height of the fight, the financial industry mobilized an army of 2,603 lobbyists, including 73 former members of Congress, and it was spending $1.4 million a day to eliminate the agency.
But Americans for Financial Reform (AFR)—a broad and diverse coalition that included the AARP, the AFL-CIO, the Economic Policy Institute, USAction, the National Urban League and Public Citizen, among others—worked with congressional allies and organized constituent pressure to ensure a much tougher bill than corporate lobbyists bargained for. And the intent is that the new consumer bureau will work to end credit card rip-offs and debt-relief scams, police the troubled mortgage market and predatory lending, and resolve consumer complaints.
Read Katrina’s full column at WashingtonPost.com.