ST. LOUIS — Darryl Moore, a local ACORN member, pointed up at the Wells Fargo-Wachovia Securities building here on July 14 and told the World: ‘They’re sticking us up. They’re using our tax dollars to pay for public relations, lobbying campaigns and TV ads that are against common sense financial reforms.’

‘This is ridiculous,’ he added. ‘We need to regulate the financial industry. They are the ones who got us into this mess in the first place.’

To ACORN activist Lynn Oldham, the issue is simple. She said, ‘We gave the banks all this money, billions of dollars. What are they doing with it? What are they doing for us? I haven’t seen any

According to Americans for Financial Reform, a nationwide coalition of consumer, employee, investor, community and civil rights organizations, including ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), 15 protest actions took place across the country on July 14.

This groundswell comes as the House of Representatives and Senate hold hearings on the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency
(CFPA). According to Consumers’ Union, the CFPA would ‘promote transparency, simplicity, fairness, accountability and access in the market for consumer financial products and services.’

Additionally, the CFPA would address issues like:
– mortgages with low ‘teaser rates,’ skyrocketing interest rates, and prepayment penalties;
– overdraft loan plans with fees that are higher than the average amount of the overdraft; and
– prepaid bank cards that are stacked with monthly fees, usage fees, overdraft fees, dormancy fees, and fees to talk with customer services.

The CFPA would also issue rules to set standards as financial products are rapidly changing, write consumer protection rules, and determine if financial products, features or practices are unfair, deceptive, abusive or unsustainable

The Public Campaign Action Fund reports that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Bankers’ Association and Financial Services Roundtable — among others — have spent an astonishing $145.9 million campaigning against the CFPA.

‘We need a watchdog to watch the big banks,’ said Moore.

Ashli Bolden, civic engagement director for the Missouri Progressive Vote Coalition, strongly agrees. She told the World, ‘I think the Obama administration is trying to do the right thing. Obama wants to regulate the big financial institutions. He wants change. We have to help him create that change.’

In a press release, Heather Booth, campaign director for Americans for Financial Reform, said, ‘When you buy a microwave, you have the
security of knowing that someone has checked to make sure it doesn’t explode in your face. We need the same security when we sign on the line for a loan or a credit card.’

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