You might not have noticed it amid all the political bickering and budgetary crises happening in Washington these days, but the centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank Act—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—is finally getting off the ground.

The new agency, with a broad mandate to regulate mortgages, credit cards, payday loans, and pretty much any other financial product intended for the consumer market, will formally go into business on July 21. But already it is busy hiring staff, launching a Website, and appointing high-level personnel—even without a full-time director, who will require Senate approval and probably spark a nasty partisan fight.

As of ...