WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barack Obama pushed back Friday against a campaign by financial firms to kill the creation of a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency as the administration continues to push for financial reform. “They’re doing what they always do,” Obama said, “descending on Congress and using every bit of influence they have to maintain a status quo that has maximized their profits at the expense of American consumers.”
Obama said the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending millions of dollars to campaign against the potential agency, and said the financial institutions are trying to weaken the bill by adding exemptions.
He described the proposed agency as having just one mission, “to look out for the financial interests of ordinary Americans.”
The agency that Obama has asked Congress to craft would set and enforce rules for banks and consumers. It will mandate plain language so that banks and other firms “cannot hide behind those ridiculously confusing contracts,” Obama said.
“In a financial system that has never been more complicated, it has never been more important to have a watchdog function like the one we’ve proposed.”
He told the story of a woman who had to pay thousands of dollars in interest for a $550 payday loan, and of a man who was only partially refunded after he caught a mistake by his bank charging him an extra $800.
“The stories we heard today remind us that the American people cannot afford business-as-usual any longer,” Obama said.
“We want to close gaps in regulation, eliminate overlap, and set rules of the road for Wall Street that make fair dealing and honest competition the only way for financial firms to win and prosper,” he said.