Bipartisanship Is Not a Substitute for Real Reform

Over the weekend, the Huffington Post received a draft outline of a proposal on consumer protection from Senator Dodd. In an effort to appeal to opponents of real reform, that draft proposal seriously weakened the Consumer Financial Protection Agency that is a lynchpin of real reform. This is just what the big banks who caused our financial crisis want, because in this scheme their favorite regulators could veto any efforts to police their abusive practices against consumers.

The House of Representatives already passed a financial reform bill that contains an independent Consumer Protection Financial Agency (CFPA). All indications are that the Senate Banking committee has the votes to send a bill with a strong, independent CPFA to the floor. Because of this, we should be focusing on passing real reform, not on partisanship, hyper-partisanship, bipartisanship, non-partisanship or post-partisanship. Party doesn't matter. We need real reform, and the opportunity is ripe.

Now, don't get me wrong -- looking for bipartisan support is admirable. All Americans are impacted by the reckless and predatory behavior of large financial institutions, and so we need to protect all Americans from those abusive practices. Also, it simply makes sense to at least ask everyone, regardless of party, what ideas they have to prevent another crisis.

However, just because something is supported by members of more than one party does not, in and of itself, mean that something will prevent large financial institutions from continuing to abuse American consumers. Only real reform with a strong, independent Consumer Protection Financial Agency will protect consumers. The final partisan composition of the roll call vote that makes such an agency law is irrelevant.

Senator Dodd is expected to release the financial reform bill this week. Since legislation usually doesn't get any better after it is introduced, if we are going to get a strong, independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency, we have to act now. That is why, along with a broad coalition of labor, consumer, and civil rights groups, Americans for Financial Reform is holding a national call-in week to tell Senator Dodd, and all Senators, to support a strong, independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Thousands have already made their voices heard, and you can join in by clicking here.