Even after the subprime mortgage meltdown, support for real regulation is dangerously absent in Congress, as their recent behavior shows.
At a March townhall event here in Boston organized by MassPIRG and SEIU, Representative Barney Frank lamented that the consumer movement is like a “horseless headman.” This, of course, is a pun on the infamous literary character, the headless horseman.
What he meant to say, I suppose, is that the consumer movement has some top-notch thinkers
in DC monitoring legislation and fighting for consumers. But we’re missing the powerful horse; we’re missing enough involvement by everyday American people to make real change.
As Chair of the House Financial Services committee, Frank is familiar with the consumer movement. And unfortunately, he was on to something. There are advocates from the National Consumer Law Center, US PIRG, Center for Responsible Lending, Consumers Union, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America and other organizations monitoring Congress and the
Fed’s every move. Armed with the truth, they point out that the subprime mortgage meltdown didn’t have to occur, and that future problems can be prevented by regulation. If they ruled the world there would be airtight consumer laws in place protecting us all, and not just from bad mortgages but from usurious credit cards, overdraft fees, payday loans, abusive auto financing and more.
The problem is that Congress isn’t gonna budge until there’s a serious political cost involved in constantly doing the banks’ bidding at the expense of the American consumer. So we’re working with the advocates to build up public support for reform of the industry. We’re helping match up the horse with the head. You can visit our website to get involved – or stay tuned here.