Obama touts new federal credit agency report protections

President Obama on Saturday plugged a new initiative to give consumers increased protections from credit agencies.

In his next-to-last weekly address before Election Day, Obama also emphasized the broader work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the government outfit created by the 2010 Wall Street reform law that is now charged with the credit agency efforts.

In the latest addition to its responsibilities, the CFPB announced this week that consumers would be able to turn to the bureau if they had an issue with their credit report.

As Obama noted in the address, credit reports can be key for people trying to buy a house or get a job. But, as a CFPB study last year found, agencies gave different scores to creditors and consumers in approximately one out of every five cases. 

“Until this week, if you had a complaint, you took it to the company,” Obama said.

“Sometimes they listened. Sometimes they didn’t. But that was pretty much it. They were your only real hope. Not anymore.”

In the address, the president also tried to more broadly distinguish between himself and Republicans, just 10 days before voters head to the polls on Election Day.

Mitt Romney, Obama’s GOP opponent, has called for repealing the Wall Street reforms, commonly known as Dodd-Frank, even though he also said in a debate this month that the law did have some positives. Republicans in general are broadly opposed to both Dodd-Frank and the CFPB.

Dodd-Frank, Obama said, is all about “looking out for working families and making sure that everyone is playing by the same rules.” 

“Sadly, that hasn’t been enough to stop Republicans in Congress from fighting these reforms,” the president added. “Backed by an army of financial industry lobbyists, they’ve been waging an all-out battle to delay, defund and dismantle these new rules.”

In addition to its new efforts with credit agencies, the CFPB has already been helping consumers having difficulties with their credit cards, bank accounts, student loans and a variety of other issues.  

Obama tried to put those efforts in context with his administration’s broader push to build an economy centered on helping the middle-class, as opposed to what he calls the GOP’s push for a more trickle-down approach.

But the president, who Republicans say has weighed down businesses with too many government regulations, also tried to stress that his work on Wall Street reform was meant to make the private sector run more fairly and smoothly.

“I believe that the free market is one of the greatest forces for progress in human history, and that the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, not the government,” Obama said in the weekly address.

“But I also believe that the free market has never been about taking whatever you want, however you can get it.”