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Derailing Help for Consumers

Bob Herbert
New York Times

Who is looking out for the consumer?

The antiregulatory mania of the past three decades and the stagnant wages of most American workers during that period have left families at the mercy of an increasingly predatory financial sector. As a briefing paper by the progressive think tank Demos noted:

"An increasingly strapped middle class became the ideal consumer for banks: highly reliant on loans for paying for the basics of family life; savings easily depleted by emergency events such as an illness or home repair; a paycheck-to-paycheck budget easily leading to overdraft fees and payday loans.

"Consumers were less and less able to avoid any one lender's high fees, penalties and interest rates because of government's newfound willingness to approve financial industry mergers."

Heather McGhee, the director of Demos's Washington office, noted that the Senate bill would also prevent the agency from enforcing its own rules in the case of certain smaller lenders. "So what's being left out," she said, "are the smaller payday loans, private student lenders, debt collectors, auto title loans, and so forth."