Laundry List for new Consumer Bureau

elizabeth_warren_031710.gi.topNew Orleans After much sound and fury the Obama Administration seems to have slipped Professor Elizabeth Warren in through the side door of the White House to setup the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  It’s all confusing since the Bureau is squeezed between the Federal Reserve and Treasury Departments, and Warren herself has been snuck into the crack since there was no believe that she could have won confirmation from the Congressional committees.

The New York Times’ Ron Lieber in his “Your Money” column recently listed seven suggestions to get her working in the right direction.  Most of his suggestions seemed more “small ball” than the scope and hopes for the Bureau.  The items weren’t trivial, because he included making sure that student loan disclosures be sufficient to advise students where they could get cheaper loans and some information that would be helpful to consumers like knowing the default rate at for profit colleges and being able to access credit scores for free or reasonably and before landlords and creditors muck around with them.

Ironically none of this really would be a game changer for consumers themselves.  Many of the suggestions were a “right to know” kind of thing without necessarily recommending eliminating predatory abuses or giving real “consumer financial protection.”  Surely, Warren will have a better list.

But, what was most surprising was the absence of anything really attacking predatory practices in housing loans, providing real protections and requirements for loan modifications, or curtailing and cleaning up the payday lending operations which have devastated lower income working communities.  Nothing was on the list about discriminatory practices in lending either?

Professor Warren is only going to be shepherding this Bureau for a short time.  Seems like she should be trying to score some runs for consumers, rather than just walk around a couple of bases.

Let’s make a real list and make it happen!

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