The House Financial Services Committee passed a watered-down version of the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency Thursday morning.
In the words of Financial Services chairman Barney Frank: "We have restricted the CFPA from what the administration proposed."
The CFPA is largely the idea of Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard law professor who serves as the chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the TARP program, and who has long advocated for stronger consumer protections.
The Huffington Post has been given exclusive video of a candid interview Warren gave to Michael Moore for his documentary "Capitalism: A Love Story," much of which never made it into the film. In it, she expresses her disappointment at the lack of accountability that has come with the massive bailout of Wall Street, and explains why the need for a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency is so urgent.
The video is broken up into three clips below.
In the first clip, Warren delves into the ever more complex financial instruments that Wall Street has designed in order to continue to enlarge their profits at the expense of their own consumers. It is here that Warren explains why we need a robust CFPA:
Financial products, and they are products, just like toasters, are sold today with the most dangerous features embedded in them because that's what drives profitability. What's astonishing is that we let this happen. You can't buy a toaster in America that has a one in five chance of exploding. But you can buy a mortgage that has a one in five chance of exploding, and they don't even have to tell you about it... We have consumer protection for everything you touch, taste, smell, feel... But there is no equivalent for credit cards, for mortgages; there's nothing.
At one point Warren laments: "I teach contract law at Harvard Law School, and I can't understand my own credit card. No, I am not kidding you."
In the second clip, Warren describes how "the very people who drove the car over the cliff have been instrumental in shaping how the American taxpayer was supposed to save it. In the past," she notes, "when you drove the car over a cliff, you lost your job." She criticized the government for not conducting a thorough and transparent investigation into the causes of the financial crisis, which is essential because "responsibility is not just about blame. Responsibility is about making sure we fix this and it will not happen again."
Warren also suspects any such investigation would have serious legal ramifications: "I was talking to someone who spent many years as a prosecutor, and he said when that much money disappears it's usually because somebody broke some laws somewhere."
In the final clip Warren talks about what led her to Washington and what motivates her to continue her fight to protect the working class Americans. Her family is from a poor background, she relates, but they worked hard and succeeded, and then were sucked into the crisis along with much of the nation's middle class. "If the people who were directly affected, people whose lives have been wrecked by this, are not represented at the table, we won't get the right solutions," Warren says emotionally. "Yeah, we'll patch this up - and then in ten years it crashes again and it crashes again and it crashes again... My job is to be here for the people who just don't get a voice in this game. They've been shut out now for 30 years in this. It's to say no more."
Moore ends by professing his belief that the financial crisis and the ensuing solutions prove that not only is our current system immoral but also that it does not work. Warren grimaces but does not disagree directly with Moore. Instead she takes a different approach:
But we made up these rules. The rules are of men, of people. We pick what the rules are. The rules have not been written for ordinary families, for the people who actually do the work. We have to rewrite those rules.
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