There have been 2 important developments in the President’s mission to bring Change to America on the healthcare and financial reform fronts.

First, many aspects of the healthcare reform legislation are beginning to take effect. The Obama administration has launched a new website — — to help you get more affordable healthcare and understand what the Affordable Care Act means for you. We know that African-Americans have been disproportionately hurt when it comes to healthcare and insurance. Please share this site with someone you know who may have had trouble with insurance in the past. Here’s a video that explains…wassup:

Second, last Thursday, the House passed a major financial reform bill after many hours of struggle. We’re mighty close — but the Senate has delayed further action til mid-July. The bill is the biggest overhaul we’ve seen since the 1930s and our community knows that it’s long past due. Part of the global economic collapse hinged on the subprime mortgage crisis here in the United States. Those terrible, often predatory loans targeted vulnerable African-American and Latino families — if consumer protections had been in place that protected us before, maybe the world would have been better off, eh? Racism, in the end, hurts everyone.

Here are some of the crucial benefits for American consumers sans the Wall Street stuff which I don’t totally understand yet (mostly from ABCNews):

DEBIT CARDS: Fees charged on debit card transactions may be reduced — yay!

INSURANCE COPS: The first federal monitor for state-policed insurers would be formed. It’s not federal regulation — yet.

FREE CREDIT SCORES: If you get turned down for a loan because of your credit score, or are offered an interest rate you deem too high, you would have the right to see the score your lender is working with, for free. Right now, you can get access to your credit report, but NOT free access to your scores — which is what lenders actually use!

NEW CONSUMER PROTECTION AGENCY: A Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, an independent regulator housed within the Federal Reserve, would consolidate oversight of a wide variety of financial products, including mortgages, credit cards and payday loans. Responsibility for these areas is currently scattered across a variety of government agencies, and experts say that creating a single supervisor will help make financial products easier to understand and not take unfair advantage of borrowers. This is the first time an agency just dedicated to preventing Americans from being ripped off has existed.


Among the changes: consumers with adjustable-rate mortgages and other complicated mortgage products would no longer have to pay pre-payment penalties if they want to pay off their mortgage early. Consumers currently pay penalties that make it more expensive – and sometimes impossible – for them to switch out of their loans if they feel they have been given a bad deal. Consumers say current practices stifle competition and give lenders an incentive to sell unfair ARMs.

In addition, the bill will prohibit brokers and bankers from earning bonuses based on the type of loan they sell, which would reduce the incentive to write higher-risk loans.

“That’s huge,” says Calhoun. “This is one of the biggest reforms. It’s a return to the kind of mortgage lending we had 20 years ago,before all this garbage started,” he says.


…the FTC has been given more powers to “develop and enforce new rules to protect consumers from unfair and abusive auto financing transactions,” according to the Consumers Union.

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