The Elephants in the Room: The GOP's War on Consumer Protection


What's at Stake

Another elephant in the room, however, is enforcement. On July 21st the CFPB officially opens for business. From that day, until the business lobby and its Congressional retainers find a way to fully defang and/or defund the Bureau, even without a director, it does have the authority to send its examiners into the more than 110 banks that have upwards of $10 billion in assets. If they discover improper conduct, the Agency can immediately file civil actions against the banks and their executives. Criminal matters will be referred to the Department of Justice.

According to the New York Times, "Even without a director, the bureau can write rules and issue orders on Day 1 about the consumer protection laws it is inheriting from the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Reserve, among other regulators. For example, the trade commission will hand over authority to enforce certain restrictions on telemarketing, while the Fed is transferring its power to oversee mortgage disclosure rules."

For months, the CFPB has also been working assiduously on simplifying credit card and mortgage forms, as well as evaluating ways to make credit cards more decipherable to the average consumer by creating disclosures akin to unit-pricing.

However, in the absence of a director, the CFPB has questionable authority regarding the oversight of payday lenders, mortgage brokers and other types of credit extenders which represent a huge percentage of the financial predators that have been feasting on countless numbers of consumers, military personnel and their families.

The mission of the CFPB is too important to be delayed another moment by the partisan bickering and paranoia that has pervaded the debate over a director.

Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room is the failure of the Obama Administration to man-up and appoint Elizabeth Warren as Director, bringing the issue once and for all to the table and forcing the conservatives to demonstrate their continuing penchant for trampling consumer rights. Perhaps then their constituents (consumers all) will rebel against being little more than pachyderm toe-jam and send a message to Washington in 2012.

[Related Article: Consumer Protection Fight Erupts Into Allegations of Lying]

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Adam Levin Chairman and cofounder of and Identity Theft 911. His experience as former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs gives him unique insight into consumer privacy, legislation and financial advocacy. He is a nationally recognized expert on identity theft and credit.

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