When Did the Consumer Become the Enemy?

May 24, 2011

By Angie Moreschi:

Why is it that every time you turn around these days, you find a lawmaker up on Capitol Hill trying to stick it to the consumer?  Of course, it’s very important to protect multi-million dollar corporations from those pesky people who buy stuff from them; we all know that.  But gosh, isn’t this going a bit far.  First, we must ensure our oil companies continue to get their tax breaks, and now Republican Congressman from North Carolina Patrick McHenry is taking cheap shots at the person trying to set up a Consumer Protection Bureau.

Consumer Advocate and Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren came up with the crazy idea that there should be someone looking out for consumers these days, since they’re getting ripped off so much.

Flashback to the mortgage meltdown, bogus banking fees and credit card interest rates,  just to name a few. Anyhow, she’s now working on setting up a federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and went before a House committee to talk about it.  Enter Representative McHenry.  He attacked Warren repeatedly, calling her part of a “super class of administrative elites.”

It seems McHenry is upset that Warren is proposing to simplify consumer contracts with companies, so there won’t be so much small print.  Warren has come up with a two-page mortgage contract to help homeowners avoid problems like signing up for mortgages they don’t understand, but apparently Representative McHenry thinks it’s a good idea to trick consumers into signing up for something they don’t really want.  Companies make more money that way, you know.  McHenry was clearly gunning for his corporate buddies.

Ever since last year when Warren’s idea for a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau became a reality with the Dodd-Frank Act, Republicans have been trying to eliminate any power it might have to help consumers. Why have consumers become the enemy?  Are we really that dispensable to these politicians who prefer corporate interests over consumer interests?  Maybe it’s time to send a message.  The next time you head to the voting booth, think about your friends in Congress.  Think really hard, about who their friends really are.