President Obama appointed a cyber-security adviser yesterday, to protect the integrity of the nation’s computer systems, but there’s still no one in the White House whose job it is to think about the security of consumers’ pocketbooks.
It’s not too radical to hope that consumers merit at least the same level of attention as computers.
For 25 years the Special Assistant to the President and White House Office of Consumer Affairs gave consumers the ear of the President. The historic post was conceived by President John F. Kennedy, implemented by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and was present in every administration until George W. Bush’s. (Download a brief history of the office)
As Americans struggle to hold onto their homes, jobs and savings, we need a consumer adviser back in the White House who can bring consumer issues to the president’s attention and help balance the influence of the ever-present and well-funded business lobbies, both inside and outside the administration.
Sure, cyber anything sounds a lot sexier than consumer protection. But failures to prevent consumer abuses in everything from fair lending to health care rescissions were at the heart of the crises the President and Congress are grappling with today.
Just as cybersecurity is an issue that crosses agency lines, a Special Assistant and Office of Consumer Affairs would link fragmented efforts across government agencies and highlight consumer protection efforts from food and auto safety to financial fairness.
At Consumer Watchdog's online application Barackandme.com,
and on Facebook, consumers can take a photo with the
President and send their own message to restore consumers’ representative to the