This piece is cross-posted from the WashingtonPost.com, where Katrina vanden Heuvel writes a weekly column.
In a hilarious video plug for the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, the popular comedy Web site funnyordie.com gathers Saturday Night Live’s famed presidential impersonators — from Chevy Chase to Will Farrell — to advise a slumbering Barack Obama (Fred Armisen). Dana Carvey, reprising Daddy Bush, tersely sums up the whole shebang about financial reform:
"What you gotta understand is that we got a regulatory issue here. We gotta regulate that or we’re gonna get more bubbles. Gonna get bigger, larger, then pop, money goes to the weasels."
Got that right. After the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, financial reform isn’t a luxury. And it shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Everyone from the tea partiers to Volvo-driving liberals has a stake in shutting down the casino and getting the big banks under control.
Of possible reforms, creating an independent agency to protect consumers from financial abuse should be one of the easier lifts. The problems are obvious. Consumers are battered routinely by predatory mortgage brokers, shifty credit card companies and rapacious pay-day lenders with exorbitant fees. We’ve seen that these practices can bring down the global economy, not just the vulnerable consumer. And the utter failure of the Federal Reserve and other regulators to use their powers to police the banks has amply demonstrated the need for an independent cop on the beat. As Elizabeth Warren, chairman of the congressional panel bird-dogging the bank bailout, likes to note, the government does a better job monitoring the safety of toasters than the safety of mortgages that can bankrupt families.
Meanwhile, the fixes to these problems enjoy overwhelming popular support.
For Katrina’s full column, please visit the WashingtonPost.com here.