Obama reaffirms establishment of independent consumer financial protection agency

09:44, March 16, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama pledged again Monday to establish an independent consumer financial protection agency as the government is pushing Congress to accelerate the financial reform legislation process.

"American families deserve a strong, independent consumer financial protection agency that is accountable for setting and enforcing clear rules across the financial marketplace," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

"And I will not accept attempts to undermine the independence of the consumer protection agency, or to exclude from its purview banks, credit card companies or nonbank firms such as debt collectors, credit bureaus, payday lenders or auto dealers," he added.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd launched his financial reform bill Monday. The bill falls shy of the ambitious restructuring of federal financial regulations envisioned by President Obama or contained in legislation already passed in the House in December.

Dodd's bill comes 18 months after Wall Street's financial tsunami that dragged the world economy into recession.

To establish a freestanding consumer financial protection agency is a centerpiece of the Obama administration's financial reform proposal. But it is not included in Dodd's bill.

"We need to ensure the ultimate bill provides strong, clear authority for setting and enforcing rules, limiting excessive risk taking in the financial system, and winding down the largest financial firms when necessary in a way that does not cause a financial panic," Obama said.

Obama called Dodd's bill "a strong foundation," but he signaled that it fell short of his requirements.

He said that "as the bill moves forward, I will take every opportunity to work with Chairman Dodd and his colleagues to strengthen the bill and will fight against efforts to weaken it."

The president vowed that he will oppose any loopholes that could harm consumers or investors, or that allow institutions to avoid oversight that is important to financial stability.

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