Ed's Blog

Consumer Bureau Compared to Peace Corps

By Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Today, in his column "Government's Not Dead Yet," Joe Nocera of the New York Times pays a visit to the PIRG-backed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he finds vision, idealism and people working to show that "government can make a difference in people’s lives."

U.S. PIRG backed the establishment of the bureau during the epic Wall Street reform battle as an opportunity to create a government agency as if people mattered. It is the first federal financial agency with only one job, protecting consumers. It is under fierce attack from big banks, credit bureaus and payday lenders, but as the story describes, director Rich Cordray, former Ohio Attorney General, is working hard to create an atmosphere that attracts young people who came to Washington to make a difference: “To corral their sense of idealism and put it in the service of improving life for the average consumer, that is a tremendous thing.” Of course, many others are working there, too. Former Minnesota Attorney General Skip Humphrey protects older Americans from financial scams and Holly Petraeus, wife of General David Petraeus, looks after military families. She concludes the column: “I think there are still idealists in Washington,” she said. “And they work in this building.”

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