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New Consumer Czar Greeted by Skeptical CU Leaders

SEP 22, 2010 11:33am ET
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WASHINGTON — The Obama administration's newly appointed chief of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren, tried to ease concerns of a dubious group of credit unions leaders this morning, many of them who oppose the consumer agency as a new burden confronting their operations.

"If things work out right," Warren told attendees of NAFCU's annual Congressional Caucus, "consumers and credit unions should be on the same side of the line."

Warren, appointed Friday as special advisor to the Treasury in its creation of the new consumer agency, sought to alleviate the concerns of credit union leaders in one of her first public appearances as head of the fledgling agency.

Credit union leaders generally oppose the new agency, which was created as part of the recently passed Financial Reform Act.

"We need that like we need a hole in the head," said Robert Marquette, president of Members First FCU, in Mechanicsburg, Penn. "In the end, consumers are going to be the ones paying the price."

"This is just another layer of bureaucracy," said Jim Tyslenka, a director of CP FCU, in Jackson, Mich.We just don't need that sort of thing."

Warren, who has a long history opposing credit unions during the ten-year fight over the credit union-backed bankruptcy reform bill, sought to assure the credit union leaders of her support, noting she and family are long-time members of credit unions. She said the market for financial products has broken down over the past 30 years, with financial service providers seeking more and more to make money off the backs of consumers with hidden fees and charges that consumers don't understand. "All financial services have gotten badly out of whack from where they were 30 years ago," she said.

"At the end of the day, we've broken our system and we've seen the consequences of that," she said.

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