The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law by President Obama on July 21, 2010, with the goal of promoting the nation's financial stability. Specifically, the measure was designed to improve accountability and transparency in the financial system; end "too big to fail;" do away with government bailouts; and protect consumers from certain financial services practices. "I'm about to sign Wall Street reform into law, to protect consumers and lay the foundation for a stronger and safer financial system, one that is innovative, creative, competitive and far less prone to panic and collapse," the president said.
One key part of the bill is the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency whose sole duty is to look out for consumers. The agency will try to help make sure that lenders provide clear and accurate information to families and small businesses to ensure that bank loans, mortgages and credit cards are fair and affordable. It will also set safety standards to prevent such practices as hidden credit card fees and "fine print."
The bill was passed in response to the financial crisis, which included the loss of millions of jobs in the U.S. To help encourage employment, the president in March signed a bill into law known as the HIRE Act (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment). This measure, often called the "jobs" bill, provides payroll tax breaks and incentives for small businesses to start hiring. It also includes subsidies for state and local construction bonds, and moves $20 billion into the highway trust fund for spending on highway and transit programs. "Government can't create all the jobs we need or can it repair all the damage that's been done by this recession," the president said prior to signing the bill. "But what we can do is promote a strong, dynamic private sector. We can help to provide an impetus for America's businesses to start hiring again. We can nurture the conditions that allow companies to succeed and to grow."
So how will the bills protect you? Will you benefit from them? Check out the resources on each below.
Also, the government has launched two key websites related to the economic crisis: FinancialStability.gov and MakingHomeAffordable.gov. The first site details the Obama administration's plan to reform the U.S. financial system, and it also contains resources for consumers and businesses. The second website contains facts and resources on the administration's plan to stabilize the housing market and help homeowners get relief and avoid foreclosure. You can visit the sites here.