With the 2012 presidential election coming up and the choice left to either sitting President Barack Obama or Republican nominee Mitt Romney, anyone concerned about their personal finances might want to look at the positions of the two candidates and factor that into their voting strategy.
Over the past four years the Democrats and President Obama have been pushing for more consumer protection and regulation. In his first term, Obama was able to get the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, formed and running. Republicans opposed the bureau and claimed it would harm business and should be kicked to the curb.
Mitt Romney called it "the most powerful and unaccountable bureaucracy in the history of our nation," referring to the unprecedented autonomy the bureau will have from meddling by Congress.
In May of 2012 the Romney campaign told the Wall Street Journal that gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be part of the Romney economic agenda. Granted, Romney's spokesperson clarified their position by saying Romney would propose a new system of consumer financial regulation that either moves the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau outside of the Federal Reserve or breaks up the new agency and places the powers within existing financial regulators. Still, changes to the CFPB at this point as they try to roll out protections and enforcement for consumers sure seems like a big step backwards and strips power away from consumers.
And it seems that while there have been some issues with the CFPB as they get their footing, they have done so good work so far.
For example the CFPB has:
- been working on making student loans and college financing more transparent to help not trap students in deep debt.
- launched a new public database of credit card complaints so people can see, in almost real time, the types of issues consumers face from credit card companies.
- gone after creditors like Capital One for unfair and deceptive practices. The Capital One action resulted in a $140 million refund for consumers.
- worked to help protect consumers from high risk mortgages and to make the mortgage process simpler.
- proposed new regulations to bring greater accountability to the mortgage market.
- started working on creating greater supervision of credit reporting and credit report accuracy.
- begun to help protect seniors by eliminating confusion from the reverse mortgage market.
- And it goes on...
When it comes to consumer protection it appears the decision comes down to giving more power to big business and banks under a Republican controlled government or trying to protect consumers with a Democratic controlled government.
The real question is which of the two parties will provide the fairness and balance due consumers. Is it easier to vote Democratic and push for greater protections and the continuation of the CFPB or vote Republican and fight to reduce what some feel are excessive government programs or regulation?
What do you think? Are we better off with promises that better times are ahead with business even though that most likely means less financial protection for you as an individual?