A watchdog order from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that will field complaints about credit score discrepancies is the latest installation of this administration's Wall Street reform efforts, "looking out for working families and making sure that everyone is playing by the same rules," President Obama said during his weekly address.
"It's now been four years since a crisis that began on Wall Street spread to Main Street, hammering middle-class families and ultimately costing our economy 9 million jobs," the president said. Touting the lowest unemployment rate since he took office and home values on the rise, he continued: "Since then, we've fought our way back."
With just over a week to go before his White House tenure is brought to a vote, Mr. Obama spent four minutes detailing the Wall Street reform items he "fought to create" - a Main Street-friendly image which falls starkly in contrast with his GOP opponent Mitt Romney's big-business reputation.
Now, the president continued, "the first-ever independent consumer watchdog, whose sole job is to look out for you" has expanded from "going after anyone who tries to take advantage of you, or rip you off " amid mortgage and loan agreements. "Starting this month, that includes the folks who come up with your credit score."
"Until this week, if you had a complaint, you took it to the company. Sometimes they listened, sometimes they didn't," he said. "But that was pretty much it - they were your only real hope. Not anymore." Complaints filed at consumerfinance.gov/complaint, the president continued, will be given a tracking number with which "you can check back and see exactly what's being done on your behalf."
But Republicans in Congress, the president argued, "backed by an army of financial industry lobbyists," have been "waging an all-out battle to delay, defund, and dismantle these new rules."
"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," Mr. Obama said. "But I also believe that the free market has never been about taking whatever you want, however you can get it. Alongside our innovative spirit, America only prospers when we meet certain obligations to one another, and when we all play by the same set of rules."
But delivering the Republican response, Missouri congressional candidate Ann Wagner - vying for Senate candidate and current Rep. Todd Akin's seat - argued the last thing America needs is more rules, regulations, and red tape.
"As a first-time candidate, I do a lot of listening," she said. "For all the fear out there, the one thing I hear most often is, 'we can do better.' It's what our parents taught us."
Remembering childhood years spent helping out at her family's retail carpet business, Wagner said she watched her parents "toil morning, noon and night. I saw my father deal with every headache the government threw his way - whether it had to do with the signs on the front of the building or the prices on the showroom floor."
"This election is not about President Obama the person; it's about his failed presidency and failed leadership," she continued. "Our country is going in the wrong direction - and Mitt Romney is the only leader who can turn this economy around, get Americans back to work and build the better America our parents worked and sacrificed to make possible."