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Washington, DC — Calling on Congress to protect American consumers from Wall Street's attacks on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) launched the “Campaign To Defend the CFPB” today.
“Too many members of Congress have sided with big Wall Street banks and other financial institutions at the expense of consumers. They have supported legislation that would open it up to gridlock or corruption by changing the CFPB's leadership structure, starve the agency by changing its funding source, and keep the rules rigged against consumers.” said Mike Litt, Consumer Advocate with U.S. PIRG.
The campaign aims to highlight the CFPB's numerous successes and the growing threats against it.
The CFPB was created by Congress after the economic collapse to serve as a watchdog for consumers and reduce the risk of another collapse.
The CFPB's successes for consumers include the following:
- The CFPB has already returned nearly $12 billion to over 27 million consumers by suing companies for breaking the law.
- Among its numerous actions is a record $100 million penalty and consumer restitution against Wells Fargo for fraudulent consumer accounts created by its employees.
- Additionally, the CFPB's website hosts a complaint database that has processed over 1 million complaints, and it provides educational resources to make important financial decisions.
Attacks against the CFPB include:
- Changing its leadership structure - The agency is currently headed by a single director, Richard Cordray. There are efforts to change the structure to a commission of five people. Getting Richard Cordray confirmed was a long uphill battle. Getting five people confirmed would be even more difficult, possibly leaving the agency unable to fully function. Or the five seats could be stacked in favor of the industry it is meant to rein in. We have seen both scenarios at other agencies.
- Changing its source of funding - The CFPB is currently funded independently through the Federal Reserve like every banking regulator has been since the 1800s. This funding structure exists to protect the economy from the politicization of banking policies as much as possible. There is an effort to bring the CFPB's funding under Congressional appropriations approval – this means Congress could starve it death so it wouldn't be able to do its job because the lobbyists dominate funding decisions.
- Stall the CFPB's current rulemaking - The CFPB is currently working on rules that would protect consumers from payday debt traps and forced arbitration. Forced arbitration is used to prevent consumers from banding together and joining class action lawsuits to seek justice when they are wronged by financial companies. There are efforts to hamstring the CFPB's work on these rules.
The campaign is urging consumers to contact their members of Congress to make sure their voices don't get drowned out by the big Wall Street banks and other financial companies like payday lenders.
U.S. PIRG is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society. On the web at uspirg.org.
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