A Financial Services Revolution: Elizabeth Warren Leads the Charge
Washington DC – Elizabeth Warren spoke candidly today about the “epic David & Goliath fight” she led with the help of two hundred plus consumer agencies, bloggers like me, and outraged citizens at town hall meetings around the nation. Ms. Warren has singlehandedly championed the idea of a consumer protection agency that will actually serve consumers— not pretense. She is the Ralph Nader of our time.
Warren speaks of herself and the hundreds of millions of American families as “David” versus the enormously powerful bank lobbying force that has become our “Goliath.” “I could not have done it without you,” she told the crowd assembled at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Financial Services Revolution conference in Washington this morning. The truth is we could not have done it without her. As Ms. Warren points out, many believed this was a task that was far “too ambitious, too far-reaching and too impossible to accomplish.”
With a Herculean strength of mind and heart, Ms. Warren has managed to pull off the impossible. It helps that she has a friend in the White House who endorsed her mission. Barack Obama announced Warren’s appointment in a somewhat watered down role as “special advisor” to the agency in September.
I rarely wax rhapsodic about anyone, yet in these past few years since the financial crisis and the crisis in our dysfunctional government, heroes are hard to find. Elizabeth Warren stands out as a lone hero for America’s working and middle classes and Small Business America. Against all odds and with a determination reminiscent of “Never give up” Winston Churchill, Warren fights for the voiceless. In her words, “In the end, American families won.”
What did we win exactly? Our chance to be heard through a consumer protection agency that might (even a little bit) level the playing field for ordinary folks, and small and medium sized businesses. This task was believed by many up until now to be an insurmountable effort against the publicly funded and publicly traded mega-banks and Fortune 500 corporations. The new consumer protection agency is poised to challenge the iron-clad one-sided advantage currently held by these global financial institutions. Who says miracles don’t happen?
Despite this achievement, the first speaker of the morning Randy Neugebauer, U.S. Representative from Texas, reminded the crowd of the challenges facing Warren and consumers ahead. The Congressman spoke of the need to “modify” the consumer protection agency and to rein in its power. No agency should have “that much power, with that little oversight,” he said. Clearly, Warren’s starpower has the banking lobbying contingent shaking in their boots. The hope expressed by Neugebauer and fellow Republican Spencer Bachus of Alabama, both members of the House Financial Services Committee, is to diminish the agency’s power and Warren’s shining star.
This David and Goliath fight continues and is destined for the history books. The lobbying groups have billions of dollars behind them—ironically much of this wealth is bought and paid for by the very people whose interests they are trying to crush—you and me. The CFA assembly of devoted and passionate public advocates and the continuing conviction and integrity of middle class champion, Elizabeth Warren, inspire us all to continue the fight and defend our first amendment guarantee of equality. In the end, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a victory not only for ordinary citizens, small and medium sized business, but also for American Democracy.
Stay tuned- more to come….
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