The passage of the U.S. health-care legislation was an unqualified political and substantive victory for progressives, even though the final product was weaker than many of them had hoped. If a similar fate awaits the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, it will be a disaster.
The history of health-care laws has been that they are almost impossible to pass, but that once in place, they get better over time. The history of consumer financial regulation is the exact opposite. The books are filled with laws that look effective at first glance, but that have been undermined by government-agency inaction, strategic manipulation by financial institutions, and loopholes large enough to swallow a big bank.