What The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Should Be

First, I would have loved for Elizabeth Warren to be the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It was her idea, worked extremely hard to make it happen, and also get it off to a good start. The problem was that the people liked her too much and Republicans would never vote for someone that popular to lead it. But now that President Obama has nominated Richard Cordery to head the CFPB, there needs to be a conversation as to what the Bureau will look like. They have already taken good first steps with their website, which doesn’t look like a typical government site, and is user friendly.

The strongest argument any group or politician can make isn’t from them, it’s from the people. CFPB tells stories of those who have been affected by the confusing rules banks use to lend money or give people credit cards. There are so many of them the contracts are usually close to 100 pages which no one can understand, but know they need the loan. After telling the story of Karen, whose mortgage broker charged her more money without telling her, CFPB makes it clear these are the type of abuses that they will work to stop from happening again. The “Protecting You” area doesn’t say which section of which paragraph of Dodd-Frank allows the Bureau to do this, but instead tells the American people what they are going to do.

Now granted having a blog can sound funny, but not if you use it the right way. So far the topics have covered what CFPB has already done to inform and protect military members from the types of abuses that have been going on. It’s safe to say they have other worries. It also tells college students the best ways they can work to pay off their loans after graduation.

And yes, it is an open process! If you need to fill your academic prowess and define words, or want to have a hand in creating legislation, one of the posts was about figuring out what “larger participants” means. There were several comments on the post, along with the announcement of a video of a live discussion about the same topic to take place. By getting citizens involved this way about government they will feel an ownership to it, understand what it’s doing, and want it to succeed. It’s also a way to hold government accountable for its actions by making it easy to ask questions. Since most other agencies can’t or won’t have this set up, it will be easier for the CFPB to use its influence to get funding or enforce regulation over large banks that are practicing new schemes. The more information out there the better, and so far the Bureau is making sure people understand what’s going on.

As we move out of the Warren era though, CFPB is going to have to prove it was victorious. I’m not saying they have to stop another financial meltdown (though it would be nice), but the next story they have to tell should be about someone who is getting a college or mortgage and used the information from the Bureau to know his or her rights. It needs to show why these regulations were put in place and the money tax payers are giving to it are not being wasted. That’s what an open government is, and that’s what CFPB should be.


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