History instructs that the "independence" of the regulator is beside the point. Consumer protection depends on altering the fundamental relationship between the buyers and sellers of financial products.
There are two consumer protection amendments getting serious attention on the Senate floor this week, one of them positive, one of them incredibly destructive -- the kind of amendment that can actually sink the bill if adopted.
More than 70 years ago the Consumers Union called for affordable, reliable health care for all Americans. Now, after decades of failed proposals, broken promises, and political rancor, reform is in reach.
Today the Fed has amended the Truth in Lending regulation "to protect credit card users from unreasonable late payment and other penalty fees and to require credit card issuers to reconsider increases in interest rates."
The big banks face a choice. They can agree to sensible reforms that protect consumers and rein in the excesses of the past decades. Or they can simply decide to screw customers, but do it openly this time.
It's time to reset the debate and get specific about what the CFPA might actually do. Here is my "Top 10 Must-Regulate" list -- the top products and services the CFPA should take on to protect consumers.