June 20th, 2009
03:24 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama takes on criticism of proposed new agency

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama fought back against criticism of his plan for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency Saturday, telling Americans that the new department would prevent them from being confused or deceived by lenders.

The proposed agency - one element of the massive overhaul of financial sector regulations the administration unveiled last week - has come under fire from industry and other critics who say it will introduce unnecessary government intervention into everyday business practices.

"[T]hese are interests that have benefited from a system which allowed ordinary Americans to be exploited," he said. "These interests argue against reform even as millions of people are facing the consequences of this crisis in their own lives. These interests defend business-as-usual even though we know that it was business-as-usual that allowed this crisis to take place."

Obama argued Saturday in his weekly Web and radio address that his proposal would provide a vital layer of consumer protection.

"It is true that this [financial] crisis was caused in part by Americans who took on too much debt and took out loans they simply could not afford," he said. "But there are also millions of Americans who signed contracts they did not always understand offered by lenders who did not always tell the truth."

The president said the agency would also have the power to mandate easy-to-understand paperwork, and eliminate "ridiculous contracts – pages of fine print that no one can figure out."

The administration’s proposal is currently being considered by Congress.

In the weekly Republican radio address, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued against the president’s health care package, saying it was being pushed through Congress far too quickly. “Once again in the health care debate, it’s rush and spend, rush and spend. Americans want health care reform, but they want the right health care reform. And that means taking the time and the care necessary to get it right.

“Against Republican advice, they rushed the stimulus. We shouldn’t rush again on something as important, and costly, as health care.”

The president has said he would like to see a comprehensive health care reform package passed by Congress before the August recess.

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. strong

    Obama's new slogan -

    "Chains you can believe in."

    June 20, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Alan

    To those who criticize the creation of this new agency: would you eliminate the Consumer Product Safety Commission or the Food & Drug Administration? Well, this is no different. Its a watchdog agency to make sure the rich and powerful don't screw ordinary citizens.

    June 20, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  3. annie against biased news

    To David P. Kronmiller – no one held a gun to your head and forced you to take that credit card and no one held a gun to your head and forced you to NOT read the fine print!

    June 20, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  4. kw

    Whatever happened to personal responsibility? Why is it always someone else's fault? Why can't it be.."I don't have the money to pay the bill so I won't use the card?" Why is it the credit card company's responsibility to make sure YOU don't overspend? If you are stupid enough to apply for, and get approved for, a card with sky-rocketing interest rates then I say you get what you deserved. Unless of course the credit card company held a gun to your head. I ask again, whatever happened to personal responsibility?

    June 20, 2009 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  5. David P. Kronmiller

    Wow – and some of you are bordering on sedition. Very un-American comments by some folks here calling our President a terrorist and a Marxist and saying he'll refuse to leave office at the end of his term – horrible coming from Americans. Horrible. Especially in light of what's happening in Iran.

    June 20, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  6. alpha_nu_916

    Howard – Basically, Obama is saying "you are all too STUPID to run your own lives so let the government do it for you." I suppose it only makes sense, the government is now running the car companies and the banks, why not our personnal lives as well.
    we are all to stupid. go throughout california's central valley and look at all of the sub-divisions of empty houses, or plots of land with partially built structures abandoned by developers because they ran out of money, or areas where home foreclosure is in the 25% range. you're telling me that a person making $40k a year exercised good judgment when they obtained a 3 year arm to purchase a house at $400k, a house now valued at $175k.
    they are morons & the lenders who provided them with the loans are unscruplous crooks.

    June 20, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. tom

    No, Howard, Obama is basically saying let's stop the STUPID people who ran the car companies and banks into the ground from further destroying the country. Actually imposing regulations on corrupt and stupid people intent on benefitting from exploiting others isn't trying to run anyones life, just control their greed. That scares you how??

    June 20, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  8. Jon Torok

    Obama thinks its better to take away liberties then to educate the public. I'm for keeping my liberties.

    Personally, I've never had a problem with a bank or credit line. I don't want to pay more for it now to make up for those who apparently can't read.

    June 20, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  9. Donna from Colorado Springs

    What a surprise........Republicans slamming another of the presidents plans to help us! They don't want things better, only the same so they will continue to have things to complain about! I have never encountered a group of people who are so vehemently against ANYTHING that will help people! Republicans only care about other Republicans and if the rest of us need help, they will tell people to go to a church for help! They will certainly help each other and cover everyones rear end, but when it comes to any program that helps people, they are dead set against it. And they wonder why they got voted so soundly out of office! The rest of us who are smart enough to not be narrow minded and inflexible sent them a message last year, but not everyone got the message. The Republican party is on its last legs, yet all we hear is the same rhetoric and lame statements that we have all heard for years. Nothing ever changes and they stubbornly refuse to compromise on anything! It will be very lonely out there on their own, but they will have noone to blame but themselves.

    June 20, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. VA Teacher

    This is so scary. Another agency?? More government?? Dang right I will criticize his so-called 'plan' – it is ridiculous. We simply cannot afford MORE government spending for something that enacts even more control over us.

    June 20, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. chuck cory

    Over regulation of a capitalistic society will destroy capitalism. People that get burned by capitalism are generally naive, ignorant (in the kindest sense), lazy, or greedy.

    Consumer protection should include education, not regulation and include the requirement that all documents be worded in plain English. Not to insult anyone, but requiring they be written at the 12th grade level would help even the most educated understand what they are reading while under emotional pressure of some kind. Agreements written in Doctorate level English are designed to confuse and exasperate even the most knowledgeable of consumers to the detriment of the buyer or renter.

    We need less Government not less. The Governments at all levels facilitated the economic problems we have because of greed (political donor protection acts), ineptitude and misused power.

    June 20, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  12. Harvey

    Some people are afraid of change. America voted for change.

    June 20, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Norm Deplume

    What about those of us that are smart enough and responsible enough to handle our own affairs? Isn't it enough that the democrats think that they know better how to spend your money, they have to tell you how to run your life too?

    Wars get started this way. Has happened before.

    June 20, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. winkum

    Have we forgotten that this mess was, in great part, started by the fall of fannie mae and freddie mac. And have we forgotten that these entities were forced by politicians, most of whom were democrats, to buy or insure loans that no sane banker would have made had they not had a way to get them insured or to sell them. It was more important that everyone be able to own a home whether qualified or not than it was to allow lenders to make good business decisions. Several republicans began warning of the problems with fannies and freddie years ago but the democrats ignored them. Barney Frank said all was well weeks before they collapsed and we had to bail them out.
    On another note, isn't it interesting that the press secretary could not name one country where a single payer system was working well. That's because there aren't any. That's alright though, Obama can do it better.
    The central question is, who can do it better, government or individuals. If anyone can point to something the government has done better than private industries and individuals I might be able to believe they will do medicine better.

    June 20, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Norm Deplume


    I don't think I would go broke overestimating your intelligence.

    June 20, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  16. Robert

    And of course those against it are RICH Republicans who don't want anyone watching the till so they can put their hand in as many times as possible. Again to those of you who don't want the change this country so desperately needs.........Go away and shut up, you betcha

    June 20, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  17. Eric

    People should let the government try to find its way out of this bogus mess. I mean, they are doing damage control for things that have gotten way out of control. Frankly, I am glad they are watching the scoundrels out there, brainwashed by the ideas of profits. Competition is supposed to eliminate profits, but the ceos have the idea of profits burning a hole through their brains. This wouldn't be so bad if they didn't focus only on the immediate short term, disregarding the fact that the short term profits they make are in the end the cause of their downfall, and ours. I don't want the government running my life and I don't want companies raping the minds of wallets of the american people, either.

    June 20, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  18. Karen

    I watch some of the business channels and listen to these commentators use words like “only” 345K more out of work, or housing starts are down (good….less inventory on the market), and they consider this good news so the stock market goes up. Bank of America needs more capital so they raise my credit card rates and dropped the savings rates to next to nothing.

    Corporate America cares NOTHING about the average working man; they could care less. It’s all about profits for them and business as usual. We’ll be right back where we were last fall if something isn’t done to reign in the greed.

    June 20, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  19. Norm Deplume

    As a tax attorney and formerly a regulatory attorney in Washington, DC, I see what is coming, and that is the regulation and reduction of any business with a significant consumer nondiscretionary presence into a form of public agency.

    I am divesting myself of U.S. equities. I won't tell you to do the same--I want you on the other side of my trade.

    June 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  20. Fed Up

    Figured this out!! Democrats want all these Czars and people to "protect" them because their brain dead and can't make an intelligent decision on their own. What's so hard about using your credit card like cash, you make purchases, pay it off when the bill comes in. If you can't afford to pay it off, you can't afford to make the purchases. What is the fear of big bad corporations?? You know, the ones that supply jobs.

    June 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  21. Denna

    It just figures that the d@mn Repubs and their minions, i.e. people who are still doing well, would complain about President Obama's attempts to help ordinary Americans. It is about time for someone to haul these crooks up short. Jeff Spangler of Arlington, VA, it is not about a Nanny State, it's about making sure that businesses that operate in America are in the business of making money WITHOUT cheating American citizens. I can imagine that if you were the victim of a fraud you would be up in arms. Please don't think you are too smart, too cool to be scammed. Scammers live for people like you.

    Patricia Campbell, President Obama does not want your health care. He is interested in people who DON'T HAVE ANY. I have excellent health care NOW, but I am not adverse to making sure that others get some too, even if it means government help.

    All of you smug morons are just one, maybe two incidents away from being among the 'have nots'. Have a bit of compassion.

    June 20, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  22. alpha_nu_916

    Jon Torok June 20th, 2009 5:34 pm ET

    Obama thinks its better to take away liberties then to educate the public. I'm for keeping my liberties.

    Personally, I've never had a problem with a bank or credit line. I don't want to pay more for it now to make up for those who apparently can't read.
    oh, jon torok, you liberatarian, you do pay more when "those who apparently can't read" take out a line or credit or a loan & default. who do you think contributes to absorbing thoses losses? the people who actually pay their loan or line payments.
    its like shoplifting & retail stores. to offset the losses directly correlated to theft, the retail stores inflate their prices, causing consumers who don't take advantage of the five-finger discount to pay more.
    as for your liberaties, when has obtaining credit ever been considered a liberty. sounds like another non-sensical republican talking point.

    June 20, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  23. Too True For You

    Jeff Spangler – good points. Same, KW.

    I agree that, to a certain extent, this is about personal responsibility. But a large part of it that I think you over look is that it is difficult at best and impossible in many cases to avoid using a credit card. Try renting a car, a hotel room, making a purchase online, or running a small business without one. And that is where some attentionis required, because NO ONE, with a choice, would ever enter into a contract where the other party can change the terms so drastically, at will, with no reason. A little research will make it plain how these credit card companies work very hard to put you in an untenable position, and then keep you there as long as possible. It is how they make money, because plain and simple, they cannot make a profit any other way.

    June 20, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  24. Norm Deplume

    I just learned that my wife got robbed by an Obama supporter. Now I have to deal with the banks, and it is maddening because of all the layers of bureacracy that exist already to protect the stupid from themselves. Obama supporters, I want you away from me and my family and out of my life. Can we have our own country please???

    June 20, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  25. Chris in NC

    Um, yeah, we clearly do need some protections and common sense regulations. It's not just about people being "stupid" or "not taking responsibility". We have an entire financial system/economy based on a populace being hopelessly mired in debt...there is always going to be someone waiting to capitalize on that, exploit it, abuse it.

    June 20, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
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