Consumer Protection

Watching Out for Consumers

consumer-protectionIt is not the government's role to get involved in so many costly bailouts. We have bailed out broken banks, broken car companies and broken mortgage giants. We have given these failed entities a government credit card with no spending limit, and few rules for how money is spent or saved. We now have bailed-out banks that won't loan you or your employers any money, and they think their business should be shrouded in secrecy. Thanks to the rushed bank bailout, which I opposed, only the 20 biggest recipients of your money have to file reports outlining what they're doing with your money; the other 297 recipients have no such requirement.

The automakers want you to trust that they'll spend your money wisely and then turn around and pay $3,000-an-hour in consulting fees to a former, failed CEO. If anyone has benefitted even slightly from the bailout of mortgage giants Freddie and Fannie, they're keeping it to themselves. This madness has to end. If you want to create jobs and opportunity, bailouts and grab-bag stimulus plans are not the answer. In my district, the Administration actually bragged that it was able to save or create 126 jobs using $100 million of your money. A high school economics class could come up with a better plan. Jobs are created by the private sector, by small businesses and start-up companies infused with the entrepreneurial spirit. The Administration needs to recognize this and right the ship.

We know Wall Street and the banks imploded in the fall of 2008, and we need to examine what happened and make common-sense changes to protect our economy and ensure this never happens again. We shouldn't under-regulate, but we shouldn't over-regulate to the point where capitalism cannot function. We cannot continue to rush through massive bills and then scramble to fix the unintended consequences - like protecting Wall Street bonuses, giving tax breaks to the manufacturers of toy wooden arrows and shielding special deals from scrutiny.

Solutions must be bipartisan and in the nation's best interests. No one party holds a patent on good ideas, yet it often seems that way. Washington is stuffed to the gills with former Goldman Sachs and Wall Street know-it-alls who are more interested in protecting their bonuses and salaries than the average Joe who saw his 401K wiped out. They are like teenagers who break curfew three times and tearfully promise it will never happen, and then sneak out of the house at midnight and take the car. We're either going to turn a blind eye to this financial chicanery, or make the bad players accountable.

Finally, I will continue to support legislation that protects consumers, and proudly supported credit card reforms that ended all kind of shady practices and outrageous fees. I also have been a leading author of identify theft protection legislation.  Included in those bills was a provision allowing anyone to get a free credit report each year though While there are other sites out there that tout "free" reports, including some with catchy theme songs, don't be duped into signing up for any program that charges monthly fees for so-called extra protections from identity theft.

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