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New Federal Agency Needed for Consumer Protection?

October 14, 2009

DES MOINES, Iowa - This week, Congress is just beginning work on President Obama's proposal to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Its mission would be to oversee the practices of banks and other lenders and protect consumers from fraud, riding herd over such retail financial products as mortgages and credit cards.

Critics point out that federal and state agencies already exist to protect consumers, and they're supposed to be enforcing existing regulations. But Anthony Carroll, director of advocacy for AARP Iowa, believes this new agency could have a very practical impact.

"What we don't have and what we really need is, in the financial marketplace, an agency whose sole focus and sole mission is to protect consumers."

While Carroll sees a Consumer Financial Protection Agency as a positive step, he warns of the need to ensure that it would not reduce the states' current role in enforcement of consumer protection issues.

"We want to make sure we don't take a step backwards and do anything that would actually hurt enforcement or the strength of the current consumer protections that are in place in states."

Carroll hopes a new agency could help shield seniors from the devastating losses of life savings that have occurred in the recession - individuals the current system failed to protect.

The bill, H.R. 3126, was introduced in the U.S. House by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and has 15 co-sponsors, all Democrats.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - IA