Is The State Of The Union Good For Consumers?

The Obama Administration has been promoting its financial reform proposals almost since the inauguration, and most of the administration’s plans, including the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, have wide support among consumer advocates.So, how are consumers doing, and what did the President say last night that might be good news?

The Seattle PI’s Boomer Consumer went through the speech and highlighted the pro-consumer points. Among them:

  • Imposing fees on the largest banks, who are giving out big bonuses again.
  • Adopting new laws on financial institution reform, which have passed the House but not the Senate.
  • Making college more affordable through a $10,000 tax credit on Pell Grants and a limit of 10 percent of salary for payments plus the forgiveness of student loans in 10 years for those who enter public service and in 20 years for everyone.
  • Helping for those facing retirement built their “nest egg.”
  • Shoring up the housing market.
  • Passing health insurance reform to help the uninsured, eliminate preexisting conditions, and reduce premiums.

Nothing really new there, though the SOTU speech is a good way to get a handle on the administration’s priorities, and financial reforms were definitely in the spotlight. The President also highlighted what he called successes for consumers during his first year in office, including:

  • Stabilization of the financial system, even though the bank bailout was unpopular, even with him.
  • Changes to COBRA, making it 65 percent less expensive for the unemployed.
  • Adoption of 25 different tax cuts to help people and small businesses.
  • Creation of 2 millions jobs through the economic stimulus bill.
  • Recovery of retirement funds


We’ll see how much really gets done in Congress over the next few weeks. Already, outgoing Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd has hinted that the CFPA might be scuttled as part of a bargain to get Republican support — which may be needed if Democrats aren’t able to find a way around the loss of their “supermajority” in the Senate. Looks like the prez and his allies have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to see real financial reform this year.

What did President Obama State of the Union speech offer to consumers? [Seattle PI Boomer Consumer]

RELATED: What’s the State of the Union for Consumers? [Consumer Reports Money Blog]

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