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By Greg Reichenbach
The big banks are scared. They might actually be regulated. The new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection has that potential, if it's headed by someone who:
(a) understands economics and the effects on ordinary people and,
(b) has the backbone to stand up to powerful interests. That person is Elizabeth Warren.
I have heard Professor Warren speak, and she has got to be one of the smartest people around when it comes to debt and economics. On top of that, she also has the ability to communicate clearly, and the moral backbone to stand up for what is right.
As a reminder, the banking industry - specifically subprime lending, combined with the drastic de-regulation begun in the '80s, is widely blamed for our current economic problems.
So far, our approach to fixing things has been to give banks a bunch of money, with no strings attached. Not surprisingly, that has not worked.
Over the past several decades, the "regulators" in various administrations (Republican and Democrat alike) have tended to be industry lackies. That hasn't worked, because if the banking industry was trustworthy enough to police itself, then they wouldn't need to be regulated in the first place.
Left unchecked, banks do what is best for the banks. We need the banks to do what is best for the country, and for regular people. The alternative is too costly, in terms of shattered lives, poverty, and health problems.
You would be amazed at how many people I've talked to who are sick because they work too much to take good care of themselves, and can't get medical care because their job doesn't provide insurance and they can't afford to pay for a doctor visit.
That is a vicious catch-22 that should not happen anywhere, let alone in such a rich county as the USA.
We need to restore consumer protections that were stripped away, and re-regulate Wall Street. Elizabeth Warren is the woman for the job.
Greg Reichenbach is a Bluffton resident and native, and a consumer protection attorney, helping protect people from unfair debt collection and other unfair and deceptive business practices.
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