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Plan for a Consumer Financial Protection Agency falters in Senate

WASHINGTON-- The White House wants it. Senate leaders support it. The House has already passed it. And, in the wake of the worst financial upheaval since the Great Depression, many consumer groups and state regulators say it’s vital if the country is to avoid another economic collapse. Yet the proposal to create a new consumer financial protection agency is, for all practical purposes, dead on arrival in the Senate. Just call it the public option of the finance reform debate.

Your bailout money paid for lobbying campaigns designed to screw you

The top eight spenders in the financial industry spent nearly $30 million to lobby Capitol Hill last year, according to Nathaniel Popper of the...

Payday lenders flout new laws across the country

WASHINGTON-- As states from New Mexico to Illinois passed payday loan reform laws over the past few years, the movement to curb customer-gouging short-term high-interest loans seemed to be gaining steam and growing teeth. Ohio and Arizona voters even took to the polls to approve rate caps on payday lenders, regardless of threats that the industry would fold if it had to reduce rates from as high as 400 percent to 36 percent or less.

DC Scorecard: Bank lobbyists win again, with help from Dem friends

Bloomberg takes a hard look at the lobbying fight over financial regulatory overhaul and concludes that despite last week’s passage of a financial regulatory...

Calculate your eternal indebtedness to the credit card industry

Here’s a good game for a rainy Sunday. Several credit card companies have launched a new Web site designed to help struggling card users manage their debts amid the economic downturn. The site includes tips to avoid penalties and links to access counseling services. But the fan favorite has to be an interactive tool allowing consumers to calculate the minimum installment required to pay off balances within a given time frame. It’s worth a whirl.

Bennet, Udall split on cramdown protection for homeowners

Bowing to intense lobbying pressure from the mortgage industry, the U.S. Senate killed a bill Thursday to allow bankruptcy judges to modify loan terms on primary residences the way they can on second homes, yachts, cars and other pieces of property. U.S. Sen. Mark Udall voted to give financially-pinched homeowners trapped in overvalued mortgages, while his counterpart Sen. Michael Bennet sided with the Scrooge McDucks of the mortgage banking set.

Colo. Dems so far resist calls for earmark reform

There are reasons to dismiss earmark-reform crusader and Arizona Republican Rep. Jeff Flake. For one, his name is Jeff Flake. He also has biggish blond hair and every couple of weeks he introduces another resolution calling for investigation into earmark corruption, each one killed the moment it hits the floor. He trotted out his last one on April Fool's Day. It too died straight away. Speaker Pelosi has basically mocked him as an unserious reformer or showboater or both. But Flake and his growing list of lawmaker-supporters won’t go away, partly because he's right on this.

Banks 1, People Zip. Congress delays credit card reform

If Capitol Hill lawmakers were playing a high stakes game of chicken with the banking industry over your credit score, guess who just blinked? Mike Lillis, congressional reporter for our sister site The Washington Independent, examines the winners and losers in the latest setback on credit card reform to rein in outrageous rate hikes and hidden fees.

Focus on the Family opens lobbying office in DC

Focus on the Family's new top lobbyist Tim Goeglein is setting up shop in Washington, D.C. — a first for the Colorado Springs ministry and evangelical publishing empire. The disgraced ex-Bush administration political operative and former top aide to Karl Rove has his work cut out for him as the influence of the religious right wanes in a Democratically-controlled White House and Congress.

Credit card industry lobbyists swarm Congress to defeat reform bills

Hidden penalties, sudden interest rate hikes, and deceptive language are just a few of the questionable tactics used by credit card companies to extract money from increasingly stressed consumers. Now, some on Capitol Hill are trying to regulate the more abusive practices. With bills actually moving through both houses of Congress, the credit card lobby is finding itself on the defensive, and turning out in force to oppose the legislation.