To hear the Republicans in Congress tell it, the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the wake of the countrys near financial collapse was everything from overreaction to outright communism.
Millions of consumers had been blindsided by the breakdown and found it difficult if not impossible to get credit or to protect the credit they had. Yet the champions of the financial industry on Capitol Hill had hissy fits at the prospect of an agency that would help regulate credit and protect consumers from predatory companies or other legal shenanigans on the part of a woefully under-regulated (or at the least, confusingly regulated) free market.
President Obama pushed on to establish the agency, and the virtues of having it as the first line of protection for consumers are beginning to be seen. The latest: The bureau will oversee large credit reporting companies, which can determine whether people can get credit, home loans, even jobs. When such agencies make a mistake, it can be devastating. And the idea that the companies have had very little regulation is all the more reason for the bureau to clamp down.
Since its establishment, the bureau has been in charge of supervising home mortgage companies, payday lending and those companies that loan money for college. It also can move into other areas where it has an appropriate role.
This is one of the best ideas that came about in the wake of a devastating recession. Let us hope the bureau makes good use of its charge.