By Margot Dorfman

The reckless and deceptive practices of our financial industry have devastated businesses, families and our economy. It is time for Congressional leaders to stop listening to financial industry lobbyists and start protecting the future of our nation. The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce believes the establishment of a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) is a crucial step in reforming financial rules and restoring the trust we need to rebuild a thriving American economy.

The CFPA will benefit business, especially small businesses, which create most of the nation’s new jobs. It’s too often forgotten in the debate over the CFPA that small-business owners frequently rely on personal credit -- such as personal credit cards and home equity loans -- to start, run and expand their business.

Small-business owners have been hit hard by the continuing crisis in business and consumer lending. They have been rocked by waves of credit contraction, foreclosures and business closures -- affecting them, their customers, suppliers, the communities they do business in and their families.