President Barack Obama's appointee to set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acknowledged in congressional testimony that separate disclosures required under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and the Truth in Lending Act should be consolidated into a single form.
At a Republican-controlled House Financial Services committee hearing, majority party representatives criticized the CFPB because of its unlimited budget, far-reaching authority and innovation-stifling objectives.
On the other side of the podium was Elizabeth Warren, the assistant to Obama and a special adviser to the Treasury secretary on the CFPB.
Committee Chairwoman Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) questioned Warren about why her statements repeatedly say that she wants to eliminate old or unnecessary regulations, but no visible effort to that effect seems to be moving forward.
Warren, a Harvard law professor, said she has been listening to the community banks, credit unions and a spectrum of people in the financial industry.
Based on those discussions, she said the first priority of the agency is to consolidate TILA and RESPA disclosures.
"These are two forms that, community bankers tell me, have roughly about an 80 percent overlap in terms of the content," she testified. "They are expensive to fill out, they have regulatory compliance costs -- that is they've got to show they complied with the regulations -- and there are real regulatory consequences if they get something wrong, if they leave something blank."
Warren said that community bankers have shown her the forms and the time and training needed to complete them. She acknowledged that despite 15 years of negotiations to consolidate the forms, no merger has yet taken place.
"What we're looking for is a one-page mortgage shopping sheet that is simpler, easier, shorter, more value to the consumer," she testified. "So, lower regulatory costs, higher value to the consumer.
"We regard that as the 'sweet spot' for this agency."
Photos of Elizabeth Warren