Obama Attacks Special Interests’ in Pitch for Consumer Agency

Posted June 20, 2009 at 6:48am

President Barack Obama used his Saturday radio address to lay out the case for creating a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency — and to assert his populist credentials with fiery rhetoric aimed at Washington insiders.

Obama said the proposed agency was essential to preventing a repeat of the financial crisis that exploded last fall.

But, he said, “We’ve already begun to see special interests mobilizing against change. That’s not surprising. That’s Washington.—

Obama added: “Well, the American people did not send me to Washington to give in to the special interests; the American people sent me to Washington to stand up for their interests. And while I’m not spoiling for a fight, I’m ready for one.—

The consumer protection agency — one of the most controversial elements of the president’s new financial sector regulatory reform plan — would be “charged with just one job: looking out for the interests of ordinary Americans in the financial system,— Obama said.

Obama said the financial crisis that exploded last year was caused, in part, by Americans who overextended themselves on credit they couldn’t afford.

But he put much of the blame on unscrupulous lenders and a loose regulatory system.

“This new agency will have the responsibility to change that,— Obama said. “It will have the power to set tough new rules so that companies compete by offering innovative products that consumers actually want — and actually understand.—

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Bankers Association and the Financial Roundtable, among others, have criticized the proposal for creating a new layer of regulation that could inhibit banks’ ability to make loans.