The first time I talked to Senator Ted Kennedy about a new consumer protection agency, he had just one question.
“What will it do for families?”
I said to him, “Senator, it won’t fix everything. But it will repair a big hole in the bottom of the economic boat. It will make a big difference.”
Senator Kennedy just looked back at me and said, “I’ll do it.” No political calculation and no questions about where the big banks would line up on this. If it was the right thing to do for working families, he was in.
The big banks fought tooth and nail to stop the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. But we got organized, and when the time came for Congress to give us a public vote, we won. On Saturday, the new consumer agency celebrated the one-year anniversary of opening its doors.
Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working on easier-to-understand mortgages, credit cards and student loans. It’s protecting groups targeted for some of the worst financial products, including seniors, active-duty military, vets, and students. It’s giving families a consumer complaint center to help when they get ripped off. And it’s monitoring the big banks and holding those that break the law accountable.
I tell the story of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on the campaign trail all across Massachusetts for two reasons. The first is that in a time of great cynicism — when people so often say you can’t get anything done in Washington — we have a consumer agency. Big change IS possible.
The second reason I tell this story is that it shows that change is possible only when we all work together. Money is powerful, but people joining forces and organizing can be even more powerful.
When I signed up for this campaign, I knew I wouldn’t be alone. This isn’t my campaign — it’s our campaign. Thank you for standing up to say, “I’ll do it.”