January 19, 2010
The Honorable Senator Christopher Dodd
Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs
448 Russell Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Dodd:
The Washington Post and several other newspapers report that you are considering dropping the proposal to create an independent and free-standing Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
Making this kind of deal with the Republicans and more conservative members of your own party will signal to consumers across the land that you, as chair of the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, have lost touch with Main-Street interests. It will show that the leaders of the Democratic Party care more about the high-rolling gamblers on Wall Street and the fat-cat bankers than the consumers, workers, taxpayers, and small investors who have been left with the costs of the financial meltdown caused by executives’ greed, speculation and crimes.
When you announced that you were not seeking re-election, many in the consumer movement thought that you would be free to push for meaningful financial re-regulation because you wouldn’t have to worry about re-election fundraising. Instead it looks like you are mistakenly thinking that a financial re-regulation bill, no matter how lacking, is better than no bill, and that you need to deliver such a bill for President Obama.
In fact, abandoning consumers on real financial re-regulation is likely to be more costly to President Obama and the Democratic Party than standing up to the banking and financial interests that have so damaged our economy.
The Consumer Financial Protection Agency should be independent with strong leadership: not part of some other existing bank-indentured financial regulatory agency. Consumers need an independent agency that will serve their interests without being captured by the financial wheelers and dealers who put gouging for short-term profit before the legitimate interests of consumers. These wheelers and dealers have been expert in capturing the so-called bank regulators in Washington DC. You have previously pointed out their “abysmal failure.”
Senator Dodd, it is time for you to be a transforming leader and champion for many millions of consumers. You know how to articulate their case and focus public outrage on the recalcitrant members of your committee. Fight for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency – the people and consumer groups will support you.
Why not convene a representative group of them, including aggrieved individuals, at a news conference to demonstrate your determination to reach out to the people of our country?