Today, Scott Talbott, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at The Financial Services Roundtable (one of the financial services industry’s main lobbying arms) appeared on C-Span to discuss the Obama administration’s proposal to create a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). The Roundtable has already made its opposition to the new agency abundantly clear, while claiming there are other ways to enhance financial regulations. However, when asked what the Roundtable would support, Talbott slipped and said “we’re not for any regulation“:
HOST: So if not this process by the administration, the creation of the CFPA, how would the Financial Services Roundtable go about assessing and remedying this…
TALBOTT: Sure, sure. We’re not for any regulation. In fact, we have some proposals, but what we don’t want to do is separate out the regulation of the entity from the regulation of the product, which is what the CFPA would do.
Ever since the administration first suggested creating the CFPA, the financial services and business lobbies have been up in arms, claiming that the agency will drive up costs for consumers and limit which financial products they can use. As part of a wider multi-million dollar lobbying campaign, the industry plans to run “Harry and Louise” style ads saying that the CFPA will amount to government “telling you what you can and can’t buy.” Republicans have bought into this frame, claiming that the CFPA will “decide whether or not we can be trusted with a credit card.”
In reality, the CFPA would “take consumer regulatory responsibility of financial products from seven other agencies and centralize it in one office that is empowered to make rules, examine balance sheets, [and] issue subpoenas.” It’s designed to ensure that all financial products (from mortgages to credit cards) are transparent, with disclosure forms that are clear and fair, thus protecting consumers from exploitation and predatory lending.
The financial services industry claims that it has consumers’ best interests in mind, but as Talbott’s unwitting admission reveals, what it’s really interested in is a return to the free-wheeling practices that contributed to the economic meltdown.