Report: Protecting Consumers

Halfway to the CFPB

A Progress Report on the New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Released by: Arizona PIRG

Halfway to the CFPB: An AFR Progress Report on “Standing Up” the New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Executive Summary

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Implementation Team staff are making significant progress in their efforts to both build an effective agency and be ready to perform required functions by the transfer date (July 21, 2011).   Based on our analysis of several key metrics, on the date halfway between passage and startup, the CFPB Implementation Team is properly focusing on key goals and outcomes.  Moreover, the high-quality of its early hires will give it the CFPB the ability to significantly broaden and accelerate its activities over the next six months.

At the same time, the CFPB has some major challenges before it. It must defend itself against ongoing special interest attacks and one-sided Congressional inquiries. To achieve its full potential on the transfer date, it must have a director confirmed by the Senate who is committed to strong consumer protection. While the CFPB enabling legislation gives the Treasury Secretary authority to run the agency in the absence of a director after July 21, the confirmation of a director provides additional new powers current regulators do not have.

Introduction

Friday, January 21st marks the halfway point in the year between the enactment and startup of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). On July 21, 2010 President Obama signed into law the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which made substantial reforms in the wake of the monumental financial crisis and recession caused by reckless Wall Street bank practices.

Among those reforms was establishment of the landmark CFPB, the first federal agency with only one job, protecting consumers in the financial marketplace. The CFPB has broad jurisdiction over both banks and non-bank financial firms. The broad and diverse membership of Americans for Financial Reform -- including consumer, senior, labor, civil rights, small business and other constituencies -- made establishment of the CFPB a priority among our Wall Street reform goals because the current regulatory system was broken and did not serve the needs of average, let alone at-risk, consumers in the financial marketplace.

On September 20, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner fulfilled a requirement of the law by choosing a “transfer date” of July 21, 2011 for the CFPB to assume the consumer rulemaking, supervision and enforcement functions currently divided between myriad federal regulators.

Just a few days before, on September 17, the President had appointed Professor Elizabeth Warren to “stand up” the new agency.  Her job: hire the staff and get the systems running so that the CFPB would be ready to protect consumers, starting July 21, 2011.

This Americans for Financial Reform Progress Report summarizes the status of the bureau’s efforts so far to become an effective, fully functioning consumer protection agency as of July 21.

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