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“Today, the House Financial Services Committee simultaneously approved an industry-friendly rollback of consumer financial and product safety protections. The approved bill eliminates the independence of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) while also preventing the Consumer Product Safety Commission's (CPSC) new public information database from informing the public about product hazards.
In one bill, the House not only cuts and guts two important new consumer protections, it also slashes the SEC's budget unmercifully, leaving it with little ability to protect investors and implement important reforms passed just last year in the Wall Street reform and Consumer Protection Act.
The CFPB is America's first federal financial agency with only one job: protecting consumers. Reducing CFPB funding by almost half in fiscal year 2012 (to $200 million) cripples the agency’s ability to protect Americans from financial industry tricks and trap such as hidden fees, deceptive fine print and manipulations in contract terms that expose consumers to unforeseen expenses and worse. Funding the CFPB entirely from taxpayer-provided appropriations will increase taxpayer costs and allow big banks to use political power tthwart enforcement of consumer protections. Without oversight, big banks are likely to return to selling predatory products that pose unnecessary risks to consumers, a stable and healthy financial sector and the broader economy.
The new consumer product safety information database, which has been up and running since March of this year, is a critical reform. Without the CPSC database, consumers will remain in the dark about products that harmed other consumers. And without the CPSC database, the agency will be forced to continue its outdated and inefficient method of searching a variety of “silos” for emerging product hazard trends. Eliminating the database al wastes scarce taxpayer funds already spent.
We urge the full House to reject the 2012 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill because it cuts and guts important gains for consumers in troubling economic times. This bill serves powerful special interests and hurts ordinary consumers who already face threats to their homes and retirement income due to Wall Street recklessness, and threats to their children's safety due to the lack of public information about unsafe products” Mierzwinski writes.
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U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization.
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