Obama To Call For Financial Watchdog Agency

Tomorrow, President Obama is expected to call for the creation of a new watchdog agency that would help protect consumers from abusive credit card, mortgage, banking practices. The banking industry is not happy about the idea, reports CNN. But hey, they’re just looking out for us: “It’s bad for consumers,” a banking industry lobbyist told the network. Oh, well, never mind then, and pass me some more delicious subprime!

Here’s how Obama described it on “The Tonight Show” in March (when he wasn’t making fun of the retarded):

“When you buy a toaster, if it explodes in your face, there’s a law that says, ‘Your toasters need to be safe,’ ” Obama said. “When you get a credit card or you get a mortgage, there’s no law on the books that says, ‘If that explodes in your face, financially, somehow you’re going to be protected.'”

In other words, it would be sort of a financial version of the Consumer Product Safety Commission—although hopefully if Congress takes the time to create it, they’ll also take the time to fund and staff it adequately.

“Obama wants shield for consumers” [CNN] (Thanks to Ben and Neff!)
(Photo: DieselDemon)

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  1. vladthepaler says:

    Just what I need: another 3 pages of 8 point legalese added to my mortgage explaining all the limitations on on its six-month warranty.

    (It’s a good idea, just a lousy analogy.)

  2. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    But we already have a watchdog agency. It’s informative, features cat (and dog) photos, produces fun videos (and lab coats!) and it costs the taxpayers nothing.

    I nominate Ben and Megan to be Obama’s new Watchdog Czars.

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: I for one welcome our Snuggy-wearing, kitteh-petting, mad-dancing Consumerist Watchdog Overlords.
      Somewhat uneasy over the notion of Perfect Oatmeal becoming the subsidized National Breakfast, however (how’d that get in – who knew cats could write earmarks. Who knew?!)

  3. Ben Hamilton says:

    If a company creates a crappy product (i.e. a toaster) that explodes, it’s not your fault.

    Even better, if you used your credit card to rack up way too much debt buying that toaster it’s doubly not your fault!!

    Obama’s going to protect me from my own stupidity! This is GREAT! Next time I spill coffee on myself I’m so calling the White House so they can help me!

    • Jessica Schwartz says:

      @Ben Hamilton: There’s a difference between burying yourself in debt, and being mislead into financial products that are impossible to recover from. You don’t think a little oversight is needed right now??

    • Coles_Law says:

      @Ben Hamilton: Bad analogy. If the toaster explodes because you were making gasoline-soaked Pop-tarts in a bathtub, it is your fault.

    • Inglix_the_Mad says:

      @Ben Hamilton: I would agree with you had not the companies themselves intentionally engaged in egregious (read: borderline illegal) behaviour. Let’s face it mate, they burned the f*ckin’ financial house down for short term profit and we’re left holding the bag? F*ck’em.

      I think one thing they should do is eliminate legalese and require plain English contracts in the same type size (read: 12-18) as the rest.

  4. U-235 says:

    I’m usually against the idea of creating new agencies (which is kind of humerous considering I work for one)but this one sounds like a pretty good idea. Banks have clearly proven they require someone to watch over their shoulder because they can’t regulate themselves.

    • Megalomania says:

      @dangerp: Agreed. A toaster is a piece of machinery that if not made carefully can function unpredictably. A mortgage however is an abstraction where every case is spelled out in front of you. If a mortgage blows up, then that’s more like you building your own toaster and crossing some wires while doing so.

    • H3ion says:

      @U-235: OK. But should we get a new agency, such as the SEC or CFTC, or should we just use an existing agency such as the FED? Is a new agency really needed or just a mandate to an existing agency?

  5. pot_roast says:

    With all the tax cheats he’s put into high positions, this oughta be a hoot. The banking industry will just write up some checks and get whatever they want signed.

  6. dangerp says:

    I agree that there needs to be oversight, but this is an absolutely horrible analogy. Like someone else said, a toaster blowing up in my face = manufacturer’s fault. A credit card “blowing up”, presumably due to out of control balances = my fault.

    There shouldn’t be any kind of warranty on you not being able to pay back your obligations, but there should be truth in lending, and oversight to stop shady practices. However, based on the new policy of bailout bailout bailout, I have the feeling the former is going to happen.

  7. morlo says:

    Having a watchdog like in the picture is OK. But instead they will choose some old person, who looks ridiculous when s/he sleeps.

  8. Garrett Manion says:

    i don’t see what the snide little comment “when he wasn’t making fun of the retarded” has anything to do with this otherwise good article.

    • katieoh says:

      @Garrett Manion: … because the quote they pulled was from the same interview?

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Garrett Manion: It’s snark. It’s okay.

    • Megalomania says:

      @Garrett Manion: I feel that’s more of a jab at people who consider his remark bad taste. Frankly, I’m conservative and don’t approve of his policies, but come on, the guy’s human and frankly, it is hardly a secret that the “Special Olympics” are not quite at the same level of athletic excellence as the non-special Olympics (a.k.a., “The Olympics”). The only people who care are those who are looking for reasons to persuade people not to like him. I didn’t vote for him, but he won, and as people sadly forgot for the last 7 years, even if you don’t respect the man, you respect the office.

      • grapedog says:

        @Megalomania: The problem is, we’ve had a string of people in the office who haven’t really earned my respect. This is also not to mention that the President is not really the person people need to be concerned with now and days. Aside from judicial appointments and the ability to veto a bill, the President just sets a direction.

        People NEED to be concerned with the election process every 2 years and need to be MUCH more careful about who they elect to Congress, that’s where the laws are made and passed.

        Sadly, too few people realize Congress is the more important body.

  9. Trai_Dep says:

    It’s hard to have sympathy for the guy whining about his parole restrictions (“Where are my civil rights?!!”) after he’s been convicted of drunk-driving his car thru a kindergarten*. Twice.

    * Or worse: a Kitten Rescue Home!

  10. michaelgibbons says:

    The SEC’s budget was $913,000,000…

    How many people here also hate the War on Drugs?

  11. trujunglist says:

    The point is that the toaster looks great on the outside; pretty, functional, and non-explosive. Since you know nothing technically about toasters, this one looks good. Too bad the insides consist of a hamster on a training wheel, causing a massive explosion that takes out your eyesight. He’s not saying that it isn’t your fault if you know what you’re getting into, he’s suggesting that it isn’t really your fault if the banks make shit like shiny, but in reality, it’s shit. They know it, but since you don’t know shit from shinola, they get you in over your head. That’s what the agency is for, not for people that go into well-defined and reasonable contracts.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I have a better idea, why we create a government watchdog agency that forces people to start taking more personal responsibility for their own finances.

    If you get in over your head in debt, we’re going to throw you in prison to add insult to injury.

    I think the better question is, if you buy a toaster oven and take it into a bath tub full of water and get electrocuted, is it the manufacturers fault?

  13. MooseOfReason says:

    How will this differ from the several other financial watchdogs we already have?

    And how will this prevent Greenspan or Bernanke or any future Fed chairman from pumping up another bubble?

  14. Segador says:

    Captain Duvel Moneycat for Financial Watchcat!