The Intercept: Wall Street Wants to Kill the Agency Protecting Americans From Financial Scams

The Intercept, November 18th 2017: Wall Street Wants to Kill the Agency Protecting Americans From Financial Scams

The CFPB has emerged as that rare beast — a fast-moving agency that actually chalks up wins for average Americans. By the end of 2016, shortly before Trump took office, the 5 1/2 -year-old bureau’s enforcement actions against everyone from the country’s biggest banks to small-time debt collectors had already returned $11.9 billion to 29 million consumers. The CFPB had created a public database of consumer complaints against banks and other lenders, and had issued new rules governing everything from mortgages to student loans to the prepaid cards that millions of “unbanked” Americans carry in their wallets. A year ago, the bureau finalized new rules giving prepaid customers some of the same protections enjoyed by those who use credit cards.

Industry’s answer has been a multimillion dollar, multi-front battle to discredit and defang the bureau, a war declared even before the enemy officially existed. Almost immediately after Dodd-Frank became law, a robust opposition had formed that included elected officials, trade associations, lobbyists, lawyers, think tanks, and front groups. In the intervening years, attacking the CFPB has become a growth industry in Washington. Hyperbolic, relentless, often scorchingly personal — it’s a campaign that more often than not resembles a street fight. Now the agency is vulnerable and soon to be in the hands of a Trump appointee who could attempt to unwind the constructive work that took place under Cordray, says Donner. “There is a lot at stake,” she said.

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