Florida Consumer Groups Release Poll Showing Strong Support for CFPB and Wall Street Reform & New Report Showing “10 Reasons” We Need Consumer Protection

Media Contacts
Brad Ashwell

Florida PIRG

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Leading Florida consumer groups today announced the results of a poll showing that an overwhelming majority of likely voters both support a new consumer agency (74%) and want Wall Street held “accountable” (77%), along with a new report documenting “10 reasons” consumers need the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Today, the new Bureau will take over enforcement of all major consumer laws.

“The good news is that this week, there’s a new cop on the beat to protect consumers from predatory lending and financial tricks and traps,” said Brad Ashwell, a consumer advocate with Florida PIRG. “The bad news is that Wall Street banks have asked their friends in Congress to defund and defang the bureau by denying it a director.”

Florida Legal Services, The Consumer Federation of the Southeast and Florida PIRG called on the Senate to vote and confirm former Ohio Attorney General Rich Cordray as its director, so that the CFPB will be able to fulfill the promise of consumer financial protection for Floridians.

Earlier this week, the President nominated Rich Cordray as the CFPB’s first director.  But leading consumer groups warn that on Capitol Hill the CFPB continued to face fierce political opposition as “powerful Wall Street banks” opposed the bureau and vowed to block the confirmation of any director.

With the coming July 21st ‘transfer date’, the groups released a new poll of 800 likely voters prepared for Americans for Financial Reform, AARP and the Center for Responsible Lending. Among its highlights:

– Nearly three-quarters (74%) of all likely voters support a “single agency with the single mission of protecting consumers” from unfair financial practices.

– Three-quarters of all likely voters (77%) want Wall Street held “accountable.” Support is diverse as the results included over two-thirds of Republicans (70%).

– Two out of three likely voters (66%), including nearly half of Republicans (49%), agreed that “We cannot get our economy back on track without strong financial reform.” Less than one-quarter (23%) agreed with the statement “The so-called Wall Street reform law is a job killer.”

The groups also released a new report, “10 Reasons We Need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Now.” Among its findings:

The report documents that while the failure of federal regulators to prevent predatory mortgage lending is well known, it is less well-known that federal regulators also failed to stop unfair credit card tricks, overdraft fee schemes and the growth of triple-digit APR and payday loans, which are now imposing a crushing financial burden on many families.

The report’s documents that these failures lead to the conclusion that consumer protection should be housed in one agency with just one job, protecting consumers from unsafe financial products, no matter where they buy them, at banks, payday lenders or other firms.

Walt Dartland, Executive Director for the Consumer Federation of the Southeast said that “The greed of the Wall Street banks and regulatory failures caused a financial collapse that left millions without work, millions more without homes and the rest of us losing trillions of dollars in home values and retirement income. Wall Street and Bank executives continue to reap obscene compensation even while the stockholders take a beating and stock prices of plummet.”

Alice Vickers, a Florida Legal Services staff attorney who focuses on consumer issues added that “The idea of a consumer financial protection bureau that looks after consumers isn’t a radical idea to nearly 2/3’s of likely American voters. When an ordinary family goes out to get a credit card or a mortgage they ought to be treated fairly and that’s why we need this new agency.

Unfortunately, 44 Senate opponents of the CFPB, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and Richard Shelby (AL), have sent the president a letter threatening to block “any” nominee to head the bureau unless its powers are rolled back and its funding weakened – in spite of Richard Cordray’s qualifications as a ‘tough sheriff’.  In two years as Ohio Attorney General he recovered over $2 billion dollars wrongly looted by Wall Street firms and returned it to Ohio families, retirees and municipalities.

Legislation is expected on the House floor as early as this week to roll back the CFPB.  HR 1315, the so-called “Consumer Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2011,’’ championed by House Financial Services Committee chair Spencer Bachus (AL), would gut the CFPB’s authority and eliminate its director, replacing the position with a politicized 5-member commission.

“Without a director, the CFPB won’t have the clout it needs to protect consumers and the Wall Street banks win,” Ashwell concluded. “So while we celebrate the new consumer bureau, we also warn that the Wall Street banks that caused the economic collapse oppose the consumer bureau, oppose the President’s nominee and want to go back to business as usual. That’s what got us into this mess and we need to keep fighting back.”
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Click here to see the report.