The problem is that the existing law on debt collection, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (first passed in 1977 and since amended) has a loophole big enough to drive a Mitt Romney campaign bus through. Unless the CFPB takes this action, if a consumer owes a debt directly to a lender (as opposed to simply owing money to a company for a purchase), the law's protections do not apply and the lender can, for example, harangue a borrower with phone call after phone call. The CFPB is planning to take a number of other steps as well to curb abuses relating to this kind of debt collection.
As Cordray explained in a statement: “It doesn’t matter who is collecting the debt — unfair, deceptive or abusive practices are illegal." He further added: "While many debt collectors play by the rules and treat customers fairly and respectfully, others try to get ahead by flouting the rules....Our job is to root out bad actors and protect consumers against unfair, deceptive or abusive practices and other legal violations."I respectfully submit this as another of the quite numerous progressive accomplishments (h/t joelgp) this administration has had.
Even when we focus solely on economic matters, the reality is that the Republican opposition has stood opposed to Obama across the board. He hasn't even always had unanimous support from Democrats who, in the Senate, could and did thwart his policies even when there was, in theory, a filibuster-proof majority. The recess appointment of Richard Cordray and the strong, repeated backing provided to him and to the CFPB represent some of the many fundamentally important progressive steps this President has taken on behalf of consumers, i.e., regular Americans, against the interests of large corporations and Wall Street.
Please follow me beyond the fold.
Yes, I wish he had been able to achieve even more in progressive terms on the economic front. But this post is a counter to the claim that Obama and/or Democrats in general are just as corporatist as the Republicans, that the only difference is that they claim to "feel our pain" while they "cut our throats" (that's essentially the title of a Wednesday afternoon post on this site, which I will not link to. You can see examples (among many in other posts) of similar sentiments in the comment section of my post on the Voting Rights Act and the two parties—just search for the word "corporatist").
Democrats are not perfect, nor is Barack Obama. They take too much money in donations from big business and from Wall Street. But Democrats in general, and Barack Obama specifically, are far, far better for the 99 percent than is the Ayn Rand-loving, wealth-worshipping Republican Party to which they stand opposed. So, criticize the White House and whichever Democrats need criticizing. Call on them to do more to help workers, the middle-class, and the economically vulnerable. Praise Elizabeth Warren—and she has been a terrific senator so far. Pull Democrats to the left, as that would benefit the country and their electoral prospects.
But when you cross the line and say that there is no difference, other than rhetoric, between the two parties on the economy, that one is just as corporatist as the other, then you've left the world of constructive criticism—not to mention accuracy.
P.S.—Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published by Potomac Books, where I discuss Barack Obama's ideas on racial, ethnic, and national identity in detail, and contrast his inclusive vision to language coming from Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and (some) others on the right. You can read a review by Daily Kos's own Greg Dworkin here.