What happened to Franken-Doddthe law to protect American consumers?
David L. Horne | 11/30/2011, 5 p.m.
For those of us who decided to be armchair quarterbacks regarding the brutal shopping games of Black Friday and Saturday, the pepper spray clear-out, the all-out fist-fighting, and the gun-toting stall circling moves were brilliant. Clearly, someone had been practicing their consumer moves.
And where were the black stripes to protect the unwary consumers who thought they only had to fight long lines and grabby hands in order to score big discounts at the cash register goalposts?
They were watching on video cameras that got the bodies moving but missed most of the finer details. They never could tell whether the ball touched the ground first--I mean whether the new electronic device was captured securely in one consumer's hands or the other before trying to cash out or double down. Sorry, too much pigskin.
So, really, what good were they? Who was protecting the honest shoppers simply running the field looking for deals and long-pass bargains?
Unfortunately, with those particular tuneup days over (the after-Xmas days are scheduled to be worse), we are still asking, "If you want us to spend our hard-earned money and restore public confidence in our own economy, then, dagnabit, where are the enforcers and what can they do for us?"
This scenario brings to mind a little media episode a year ago called the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law July 21, 2010, as one of President Obama's crowning achievements. Called Frank-Dodd by most, and FrankenDodd by the Tea Party and its various nabobs, has it worked? Are we being more protected from credit card ripoffs and banks behaving like drunken Las Vegas gamblers using other folks' money? Hmm. It sure doesn't feel like it.
You should remember, the legislation was supposed to give us a new consumer protection chief who would scour the field and root out nefarious financial and banking schemes intended to separate us from our money unfairly and line the pockets of "banksters and hedge clippers."
Well, Elizabeth Warren built the thing, and gave it some pizzazz and clout, but couldn't get past the nabobs in the House or Senate to be appointed to the job. So, they hired her assistant, Richard Cordray, who is no slouch in the consumer protection business himself. He is on the job as we speak, just being overwhelmed by the oodles of lobbyist money and insider politics from bank-funded civil service administrators still trying to undermine the law. But, it is a plus that he is there, and that Warren has a solid chance to become U.S. Senator Warren from Massachusetts.
The new law was supposed to be the most sweeping attempt to rein in Wall Street since the 1930s. It would establish a new consumer protection agency, set up a council intended to watch for and prevent another financial meltdown in this country, and toughen real regulation of the complex securities known as derivative swaps, among other things.
A. It would create a new consumer-protection watchdog housed in the Treasury Department to prevent abuse of consumers in mortgage, auto and credit card lending.