Republicans attempt to stifle consumer protection agency power
Today, Republicans introduced the Consumer and Financial Protection Safety and Soundness Improvement Act of 2011 (HR 1315), a bill that would severely reduce the effectiveness of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the only federal agency with the sole responsibility of protecting American consumers. Despite overwhelming public support for strict rules on Wall Street, the CFPB opened their doors for the first time today without a director, largely due to partisan politicking.
The Republican-sponsored bill, HR 1315, would do a few things:
Currently, subsection (a) of Section 1023 of Dodd-Frank, which defines review authority for bureau action, says:
“…Council may set aside a final regulation prescribed by the bureau…if the Council decides…that the regulation or provision would put the safety and soundness of the United States banking system or the stability of the financial system of the United States at risk“
HR 1315, however, would replace the italicized portion with the following phrase:
“regulation which is the subject of the petition is inconsistent with the safe and sound operations of United States financial institutions.”
In other words, it changes Financial Stability Oversight Council review authority to reflect the interests of banks and other financial institutions, and not American consumers and the nation as a whole. HR 1315 also reduces the threshold for overriding new bureau provisions from a two-thirds majority, to a simple majority.
Yesterday, the White House released a Statement of Administration Policy rebuking HR 1315, and threatening a veto:
The President’s senior advisors would recommend that the President veto any bill, including H.R. 1315, that makes the Nation’s economy more vulnerable to another devastating financial crisis by undermining the core reforms included in the Dodd-Frank Act.
Since coming into power, Republicans in the 112th Congress have systematically targeted legislation that benefits lower and middle class people including everything from health care to women’s rights, and Social Security to union rights. HR 1315 is yet another attempt to undo progress before it has a chance to be tried and tested. The effects of the financial crisis still loom over too many Americans. Now more than ever, Americans need to be protected against exposure to systemic risk and abuses perpetuated by irresponsible financial institutions; they deserve it.