"We commend the Administration for its innovative plan for protecting America's families from abusive lending practices, including those that led to the current mortgage crisis, as well as those involving costly overdraft bank fees and other small loans.

As our country grapples with the current financial meltdown and its epidemic of foreclosures that have crippled the economy, we must address the regulatory lapses that brought us here. At the same time, we must protect consumers through targeted laws such as the credit card legislation Congress recently passed and the pending legislation that addresses predatory mortgage lending and abusive interest rates on small loans.

We support the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency dedicated exclusively to protecting families from abusive lending practices on all consumer products. The same rules must apply to similar products across all financial institutions. Such consistency is only fair. And we strongly support the position that states must be free to make and enforce laws that are even stronger than those set by the federal agency when they determine that's necessary to protect their own residents.

For an agency of this nature to work, it must be financially and operationally independent of the institutions it oversees and have sufficient authority to enforce consumer protection and fair lending laws, both independently and alongside the Department of Justice and state regulators.

We look forward to working with Congress to consider the Administration's proposal and to determine the ultimate shape a revamped, modernized regulatory system should take. We must ensure that in the process additional, substantive protections are extended to America's consumers.

For more information: Kathleen Day at (202) 349-1871 or kathleen.day@responsiblelending.org; Ginna Green at (510) 379-5513 or ginna.green@responsiblelending.org; or Charlene Crowell at (919) 313-8523 or charlene.crowell@responsiblelending.org..

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