By Aracely Panameño
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turned one year yesterday! On the occasion of its birthday, AARP, Americans for Financial Reform, Center for Responsible Lending, and the National Council of La Raza jointly commissioned a national survey to find out likely voters’ attitudes towards financial reform and the new agency. The survey was conducted by Lake Research Partners on July 5-10.
Sixty percent of all Americans believe that there should be more government oversight of financial companies like Wall Street banks, mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and credit card lenders. African Americans and Latinos, who have been disproportionately devastated by predatory lending, hold a stronger view than whites (74%, 67%, and 57% respectively).
Blacks and Latinos believe that Wall Street companies should be held accountable with tougher rules and enforcement action for the financial crisis they caused more than whites (85%, 79%, and 71% respectively).
All Americans are in favor of requiring banks, mortgage lenders, credit card companies, and student loan and auto lenders to provide clearer explanations of their rates, terms, and fees (Latinos 96%, blacks 95%, and whites 91%).
Latinos expressed the strongest support (79%) compared to blacks and whites (74% and 63% respectively) about the need for the CFPB to make sure that consumers are treated fairly in financial markets.
A higher percentage of blacks (80%) than Latinos (65%) or whites (61%) believe that Wall Street caused the financial crisis which has cost us millions of jobs and that we cannot get our economy back on track without strong financial reform.
The forces against financial reform
Americaand the world are going to need strong financial reform implemented. It won’t be easy or cheap because we are up against strong forces with deep pockets; think Bain and his thugs in the movie The Dark Knight Rises. For every consumer advocate like me, the financial sector has twenty high power attorneys walking the halls of Congress. In fact according to The Charlotte Observer, in 2011 the banking industry spent $61.6 million in lobbying against re-regulation. The partial listing of expenditures included:
American Bankers Association: $8.6 million
WellsFargo: $7.8 million
JPMorgan Chase: $7.6 million
Citigroup: $5 million
Independent Community Bankers ofAmerica: $3.7 million
Bank ofAmerica: $3.2 million
The survey results come in the midst of the LIBOR manipulation investigations by other regulators and at the hills of the first enforcement action by the CFPB against Capital One for credit card abuses. The CFPB is showing promise in protecting the interest of American consumers and it should be allowed to carry out its mission. Happy first birthday CFPB!
Aracely Panameño is an Insight Center for Community Economic Development fellow. She works for the Center for Responsible Lending as the Director of Latino Affairs. The opinions expressed are personal. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.