Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Kerry Proposes Watchdog for Consumers
By HOLLY RAMER, Associated Press Writer

BEDFORD, N.H. - Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry said Wednesday his administration would include a "pocketbook watchdog" to protect the financial security of consumers and small-time investors.

In a speech to New Hampshire business leaders, Kerry said he would appoint a "director of personal economic security" to protect workers' pensions and retirement benefits, crack down on identity theft and ensure fair housing lending.

"America has a problem when the workers who helped build its economy are pocketing pennies while the few who are bragging about an economy are pocketing billions," Kerry said.

The appointee also would oversee efforts to enforce financial consumer protection laws, develop new ways to help people save money, and promote programs to educate them about the financial world.

"I will appoint a powerful advocate whose job — morning, noon and night — will be to look out for the everyday investors who are too often exploited, but who are critical to the long-term growth of the country," Kerry said.

The new position is part of Kerry's "workers' bill of rights," a collection of policy proposals designed to highlight his willingness to stand up to big corporations and defend working people. The package includes his earlier plans to expand health insurance coverage, enforce trade agreements, end corporate welfare and repeal President Bush's tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

Workers also have a right to secure retirements, safe workplaces, and fair and equal pay, Kerry said, but instead have suffered under what he called "George Bush's Bill of Privileges for Special Interests." Under the Bush administration, Wall Street greed has been met by a "look-the-other-way attitude," Kerry said.

"It's time we had an economy that's run not just by the value of our stocks, but the values of our families, an economy where common courtesy and common sense count for as much, if not more than, dollars and cents. "

The Director of Personal Economic Security will strengthen financial security by helping workers make better decisions about their retirement savings, Kerry said.


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