Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chutzpah on Steroids


What is up with the banks and the rest of the financial industry? The people running this system remind me of gangsters who manage to walk out of the courthouse with a suspended sentence and can't wait to get back to their nefarious activities.

These malefactors of great wealth (thank you, Teddy) developed hideously destructive credit policies and took insane risks that hurt millions of American families and nearly wrecked the economy. Then they were bailed out with hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars, money that came from the very people victimized by the industry's outlandish practices.

Now the industry is fighting against creation of an agency that would protect taxpayers and ordinary consumers from a similarly devastating onslaught in the future. And at the same time they are scrambling to raise credit card interest rates and all manner of exploitive fees to build a brand new superstructure of questionable profits on the backs of the taxpayers who came to their rescue.

We're reaching a whole new level of chutzpah here.

The Obama administration wants to create a Consumer Financial Protection Agency that would shield individuals and families from deceptive practices and outright fraud by banks and other businesses offering credit cards, mortgages, home loans and other forms of consumer finance.

Everything we've learned in this recession tells us we need such an agency. As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner described it, "This agency will have only one mission: to protect consumers."

Protecting the consumer is, of course, anathema to the industry. So it's preparing for war. The Times's Edmund Andrews neatly summed up the matter when he wrote that "banks and mortgage lenders are placing top priority on killing" the president's proposal.

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