Irresponsible lending practices and lax regulation were driving forces in the collapse of the financial markets in 2007. That financial meltdown and recession cost eight million American jobs (including thousands of Minnesota jobs), wiped-out trillions of dollars in retirement plans and investments, and led to the largest number of home foreclosures since the Great Depression.
I believe consumer justice issues are critical because banking and credit have become such a key element for attaining economic prosperity in our society. America's working families are increasingly squeezed between the rising cost of everyday expenses and falling real wages. To make up the difference between what they're taking home and what's due to the doctor or to the utility companies working families are increasingly turning to credit cards and other high-cost consumer loans to finance their daily costs of living. I believe in the long run we need to establish an economy where our working families are not forced to rely on these products to finance their everyday expenses. Until that day arrives, we must make sure the credit terms offered to consumers are fair and free from abuse.
In 2010, I proudly voted to pass historic Wall Street Reform legislation that brings long-overdue regulatory reforms for big banks and financial institutions on Wall Street. It ends "too big to fail" companies and protects consumers from deceptive practices, hidden fees, and abusive lending terms. This law creates a much-needed independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which will have the power to stop common traps and eliminate confusing fine print.
In 2009, I authored legislation that became law as part of the Credit Cardholder's Bill of Rights, which protects borrowers from being penalized by lenders for defaulting or missing payments on other loans. This unfair practice was known in the financial sector as "Universal Default" and is now illegal. The Universal Default Prohibition Act was the first bill I introduced as a Member of Congress.