White House Makes Final Push for Financial Overhaul

President unveils five-point plan

“Banks would have to provide clear, understandable information to consumers and enforce more strongly than ever fair lending laws that protect African Americans and other minorities from discriminatory lending practices,” Rouse said. Mortgage paperwork, for example, would be simplified and subject to greater scrutiny.

The CFPA also would be charged with offering financial literacy programs so that people understand exactly what’s being offered and aren’t taken advantage of.

“That’s really what this bill and CFPA is about… I hope there would be active participation by the [black] community to help design what would be most effective so it’s not just a waste of taxpayer money but programs that help our communities,” said Rouse.

Ten Congressional Black Caucus members, led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) fought to include an amendment that would establish an Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at each of the seven financial regulatory agencies to ensure that the groups harmed most would be represented. They’re concerned that it won’t be included in the final bill.
Rouse said that the administration is aiming for diversity and representation for all Americans, “but we’re working through the specifics and it’s just important that it be a strong institution in general.”

Pundits are already debating whether Obama’s tone had enough fire or whether in fact the bill is as stringent as he claims. But his goal was to send a clear message to the American public who’ve essentially been collateral damage throughout the economic crisis. Anyone who doesn’t go along with the reforms, obviously isn’t on their side.
The legislation is moving far faster than most people anticipated. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada) has announced that the first procedural vote at 5:15 p.m. on Monday. Once a final bill is signed into law, the president will have yet another accomplishment that he can tick off of the list of things he promised he’d do, which could help boost Democrats’ fate during the November elections.

Key proposals for financial reform:

— A system to ensure that the financial system, the broader economy, and the American taxpayers are protected in the event that a large firm begins to fail

— The Volcker Rule, which sets limits on the size of banks and the risks that banking institutions can take

— Reforms that will bring new transparency to many financial markets, and bring derivatives and other complicated financial instruments out of the dark

— Strong consumer financial protections that will give American consumers more protection and power in our financial system, and

— Say on pay reforms that would give investors and pension holders a stronger role in determining who manages the companies in which they’ve placed their savings.

— Deborah Creighton Skinner contributed to this article.

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