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Financial Reform Is Moving Into the Spotlight

Most AARP members think banks should do a better job explaining the terms of consumer loans, and this will happen if Congress enacts new regulations that have been debated for a year.

Members want terms and conditions explained in plain language, according to a recent AARP survey. Now, Congress and the Obama administration seem to be nearing consensus on such regulations.

Legislation that has passed the House would demand accountability from financial institutions, so consumers can more easily figure out the cost of mortgages, credit card debt and other loans, say backers of the bill. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Sen. Robert Corker (R-Tenn.) are negotiating details of a comparable Senate bill.

“Older Americans, whose retirement nest eggs were decimated by the failure of an outdated and compromised financial regulatory system, overwhelmingly say they want reform,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond.

The bills propose an independent agency to monitor compliance, an idea that sparked controversy but is supported by the administration.

“It’s very hard, given the damage caused by this crisis, for anyone to stand up and say, ‘We don’t need strong protections for consumers and we don’t need to limit risk-taking in the financial sector,’ ” said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

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