The show-down between America's banks and American families, and the prospect of a Consumer Protection Agency, is in its final stages in the Senate. Elizabeth Warren, bailout watchdog and champion of the American family, says the outcome "will show whether we are going to let the industry continue to write the rules -- to keep the cops off the beat -- or whether the financial crisis actually changed something." Outgoing Senator Chris Dodd wants to drop the proposed independent agency from the Senate's financial reform bill. Good for you, Chris.Unfortunately for him, and fortunately for us, Elizabeth Warren is a mighty adversary. Dr. Warren is a Harvard Law professor and outspoken advocate for the middle class. The new agency would be given the power to write rules governing basic consumer credit products like home mortgages and credit cards, and would have the authority to regulate big banks and to oversee their compliance. That's pretty scary language if you're a big bank. But, isn't it about time we learn anything from the financial and economic doom we are all facing? A laser light is pointing at the big banks.Banks want to be protected from any threats to their business-as-usual mode of operation which, even today, translate into mind-boggling profiteering (you could substitute "obscene" without a stretch). Many law professors and consumer advocates stress that consumer protection has never been a priority. That is precisely why we are at the bottom of the economic well. Except big banks, of course. Why would they want anything to change? There's nothing in it for them except reduced profits, and that's never a good thing for their greedy culture. Although we consumers have made them what they are, that's always been lost on the bottom line, every time.The rising tide of disgust and calls for big change are at hand. The necessary sea change to make this happen on our behalf is becoming a ground swell of a tidal wave waiting to crash. Well, at least we can certainly hope this is the case. The House has made its intentions known by passing a bill to implement a Consumer Protection Agency. But, as you might have guessed, the Senate is not on the same track. There's simply too much at stake for their constituents, the big banks and their rich lobbyists, to take a moral gamble on helping everyday Americans.So, while I'm not holding my breath, knowing Dr. Warren is leading the charge, I might hold it a little, just in case we get lucky.
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