Tired of hearing warnings that a new consumer financial products agency will hurt your local florist? Eliot Spitzer has a solution. He thinks you should complain to your pension fund or mutual fund about it.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is behind those anti-CFPA ads, which feature doe-eyed butchers, bakers and florists standing in their quaint little shops, braced for the day when the government will swoop in and tell them they can no longer offer store credit to their customers. President Obama has spoken out against the Chamber’s spin, and House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank has said repeatedly that the new consumer protection regulator would not bear down on small businesses. Spitzer, in his latest Slate column today, argues that the Chamber’s lobbying efforts should be curtailed, and that the public can participate in making that happen.
The Chamber is funded by public companies, and public companies’ largest and most vocal shareholders are mutual funds and pension funds, Spitzer says. So if pension- and mutual-fund customers tell their funds to make the Chamber cut back on its lobbying, the whole thing just might happen.
Of the funds, Spitzer says: “They have failed to control the management of the companies they own because the actual owners of those mutual funds and pension funds—you and I—have failed to raise our voices. We haven't even asked questions.”
Spitzer doesn’t really want Joe Schmoe to take the lead on this. The treasurers and comptrollers of public pension funds, who are elected officials, should get the ball rolling. Sounds to BankThink like an arduous process that could take quite a while. But that’s OK! Regulatory reform could take a while too. And it would be nice to get past the fearmongering to some more substantial debate before legislation is enacted.