The President began his remarks today in the Rose Garden laying out the motivation for what was to come:
Before we begin I just want to mention a report that was released by the Census Bureau yesterday about what happened to wages during the last decade. It revealed that between 2001 and 2009, the incomes of middle-class families fell by almost 5 percent.
The fact that the middle class has been chipped away at is well known, and obviously is not easily reversed. The economic crisis of the past two years has been devastating in itself, but was all the more tragic because so many middle class families had been pushed to the brink even beforehand. That's why the President was again tenacious in demanding that "the leaders of the other party to stop holding middle-class tax cuts hostage and extend this relief to families immediately." As the President has been explaining all week, Republicans in Congress have been refusing to allow an extension of middle class tax cuts unless there's also an additional tax cut for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans -- an average of $100,000 for everybody making a million dollars or more per year.
But the news of the day was the announcement that Elizabeth Warren would lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- one of the central features of Wall Street Reform as explained in our animated video -- in getting it off the ground:
She’s a native of Oklahoma. She’s a janitor’s daughter who has become one of the country’s fiercest advocates for the middle class. She has seen financial struggles and foreclosures affect her own family.
Long before this crisis hit, she had written eloquently, passionately, forcefully, about the growing financial pressures on working families and the need to put in place stronger consumer protections. And three years ago she came up with an idea for a new independent agency that would have one simple overriding mission: standing up for consumers and middle-class families.
The President touched on some of issues the bureau will focus on:
Never again will folks be confused or misled by the pages of barely understandable fine print that you find in agreements for credit cards or mortgages or student loans. The bureau is going to crack down on the abusive practices of unscrupulous mortgage lenders. It will reinforce the new credit card law that we passed, banning unfair rate hikes and ensure that folks aren’t unwittingly caught by overdraft fees when they sign up for a checking account. It will give students who take out college loans clear information and make sure that lenders don’t game the system. And it will ensure that every American receives a free credit score if they are denied a loan or insurance because of that score.
Basically, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be a watchdog for the American consumer, charged with enforcing the toughest financial protections in history.