By Camille Moran

Wall Street’s collapsing house of cards brought us a time of economic turmoil that most of us have not seen in our lifetimes. Patching the house of cards back together, though, will not bring us lasting recovery.

When will Washington realize that Main Street needs true financial reform and not just piecemeal crumbs dubbed as reform by Big Business and Wall Street? When will Washington realize it is small business that drives our nation’s economy – that without that entrepreneurial spirit, the wheels of our country’s economic system would no longer turn?

Had there been adequate rules in the past, there is a good chance the Great Recession would not have occurred, or at the least, have been less severe. This would have meant less pain for small business owners, with far fewer business failures, home foreclosures and job losses.

Small businesses didn’t have the luxury of being bailed out by the government as the big financial institutions did. While America waits for comprehensive reform, more families face home mortgage foreclosures, and more small businesses are unable to borrow money, crippled by self-serving Wall Street gamblers, who, enabled by bonuses and Washington bailouts, push aside anyone who gets in their way in order to satisfy their insatiable greed.

As a small business owner, I see the need for comprehensive financial reform that would bring about strong transparency, oversight and accountability to Wall Street. Most importantly, financial reform must include the establishment of a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) with independent rule-making authority and enforcement powers -- not a branch of the Federal Reserve influenced by the Wall Street “fat cats,” whose total disregard for the needs of Main Street catapulted our economy into chaos in the first place.

Our local Chambers of Commerce claim to represent the needs of small business owners, when they in fact, are often under the umbrella of larger associations, such as the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), who actually serve as mouthpieces for Big Business. It is these types of organizations across the country that aggressively fight to kill proposals aimed to create a new CFPA, deceptively claiming it to be in the best interests of their small business owner members – all the while knowing that a CFPA would help stabilize the economy, but being too afraid to stop protecting the Big Business interests who pad their pockets.

But we small business owners know the truth – the CFPA would provide protection against unfair “tricks and traps” lending. Small business owners -- who regularly rely on credit card financing and take out home equity lines of credit to get started or stay afloat -- would benefit enormously from these reforms and from the increased stability that would come from meaningful oversight of the credit markets.

Our elected officials should resist the efforts of Wall Street and other special interests to water down consumer protection through amendments that strip crucial power from states and attorneys general to enforce or enact consumer protection laws, and carve out special exemptions for auto dealers and other businesses. Business owners and consumers need full and fair disclosure of the costs and risks of ALL financial products, services and lending.

According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, about two-thirds of Americans support tighter regulations on the way banks and other institutions conduct their business. Bipartisan support is especially high for greater federal oversight of the way banks and other financial companies that make consumer loans such as credit cards, auto loans and mortgages.

Most of the nation’s new jobs are created by small businesses, and effective financial reform will enable businesses to fill this role as they secure fair credit, hire new employees and build our communities and our economy.

It’s important that our elected officials act expediently on behalf of all small business owners. We can’t let our hard-working small business owners down by protecting the big banks and Wall Street. Instead, we need comprehensive financial reform that includes a Consumer Financial Protection Agency powerful enough to prevent the predatory lending that proved so catastrophic for our economy.
Moran is the owner and CEO of Caramor Industries, LLC, in Natchitoches.
Copyright (C) 2010 by the Louisiana Forum 5/10