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The Associated Press April 8, 2011, 6:22PM ET

Chief of new consumer agency defends goals

The White House official designing a government bureau to help consumers deal with financial institutions protested Republican efforts to kill or hobble the agency.

Elizabeth Warren said Friday that killing the agency would be going back to "a failed system" of financial regulation leading up to the 2008 market crisis.

Warren said institutions that sell mortgages and credit cards have an obligation to make prices and risks clear, and that if banks are selling products honestly, they should welcome the July 21 launch of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Congress approved the bureau last year as part of a bill to increase oversight of financial markets after the 2008 crisis. Some Republicans say the agency would have too much power. Senate Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., has said it will be the most powerful agency in Washington but with very little accountability.

Republican lawmakers have proposed to repeal the entire financial bill, cut the bureau's budget or curb its power in other ways.

Warren argued that the bureau's power is already too limited because its rules can be blocked by other regulatory agencies.

The bureau was set up as an independent agency, funded by fees on banks. That means preparations for the agency's launch won't stop even if there's a government shutdown, said Warren, a Harvard law professor and adviser to the White House and Treasury Department. She spoke at a conference of business-news reporters and editors in Dallas.

The consumer bureau will regulate mortgages, credit cards, student loans and other financial products. Warren said it will also get involved in educating consumers about financial services.

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