Posted by Staff on May 02, 2014
Committee Holds SEC Accountable
On Tuesday, the full committee held an oversight hearing with SEC Chair Mary Jo White to discuss the Commission's agenda, operations, and 2015 budget.
"The SEC’s budget has grown substantially in recent years. In fact, the SEC’s budget has increased by 80 percent in the last 10 years and by nearly 300 percent since the year 2000. I again note that when my Democratic colleagues were in the majority even after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, they never called for the dramatic budget increases they call for now," said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).
"Not many other agencies throughout the entirety of the Federal Government have seen such hefty budget increases during this same period of time. I don’t know many constituents in Texas’s Fifth Congressional District -- that I have the honor of representing -- whose family budget has seen an 80 percent increase in the last 10 years. In addition, as we see the national debt clock regrettably continually turn at the pace we have observed, this is something that must loom large over all of our budgetary decisions," he said.
During the hearing, Members also questioned Chair White regarding market structure and high frequency trading. In response to a question from Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, Chair White said, "the markets are not rigged."
On 20-0 Vote, Subpoenas Approved in Investigation of CFPB
Republicans and Democrats on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee voted 20-0 to subpoena two CFPB officials and a union representative as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the Bureau.
The CFPB and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) did not allow the officials to appear as witnesses at a subcommittee hearing on April 2. At that hearing, CFPB employee and whistleblower Angela Martin and Misty Raucci, an outside investigator hired by the CFPB, described a culture of racial and gender discrimination and retaliation against employees at the CFPB.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray refused to allow Stacey Bach, Assistant Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, and Liza Strong, Director of Employee Relations, to testify at the April 2 hearing. A third official, Ben Konop, the executive vice president of the CFPB employees’ union, was also not allowed to testify by the union. All three were subpoenaed today.
“Unfortunately, the CFPB and the NTEU refused to provide the requested witnesses to testify at the April 2 hearing. And yet, we maintain it is imperative that we are able to question Ms. Bach, Ms. Strong, and Mr. Konop. Through our investigation, it has become quite clear to this Subcommittee that they are the three individuals with the most knowledge of the disturbing treatment which women and minority employees were subjected to while at the Bureau,” said Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC).
Subcommittee Examines How Technology Can Promote Consumer Financial Literacy
On Wednesday, the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the impact of technology on promoting consumer financial literacy.
"In 2012, the Government Accountability Office released a report that provided an overview of the federal government’s activities and programs to promote financial literacy. They found 13 different programs, operated by 13 different agencies, spent approximately $31 million dollars on financial literacy efforts in 2010. The report also found that there was significant overlap among these agencies and recommended consolidation of the federal government’s to promote financial literacy. Furthermore, the GAO found that there was no mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
The subcommittee heard from private-sector witnesses who have successfully developed mobile applications and other programs to promote financial literacy.
Subcommittee Continues Efforts to Spur Economic Growth and Job Creation
On Thursday, the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss legislative proposals to enhance capital formation and spur job creation.
"Thanks in large part to the JOBS Act, 2013 was the best year for initial public offerings since 2000, with more than 175 IPOs raising over $40 billion in much-needed growth capital. At least 80% of these companies qualified as Emerging Growth Companies under the JOBS Act. While this is a very positive development, more work needs to be done" said Subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (R-NJ).
"According to one small business survey, government regulation and red tape remain at the very top of the list of the most important problems facing America’s job creators. Another survey shows that small business demand for private capital continued to outpace access in 2013, while at least 60% of respondents found it difficult to raise new external financing," he said.
The subcommittee focused on three discussion draft bills: the Equity Crowdfunding Improvement Act of 2014, the Startup Capital Modernization Act of 2014, and a bill to direct the Securities and Exchange Commission to revise its proposed amendments to Regulation D, Form D, and Rule 156.
Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) | House Passes Volcker Rule Fix
Rep. Andy Barr (R., Ky.), said a small bank in his district feared a loss if it has to sell its CLO holdings at below their current value. “The consequence will be a fire sale in the market that will cause significant losses,” he said Tuesday on the House floor.
Weekend Must Reads
National Review | Consumer Finance Protection Bureau: Hotbed of Discrimination?
Furthermore, the CFPB has been accused of actual disparate treatment race discrimination. One CFPB attorney testified before the House Financial Services Committee regarding her experience, stating that since her arrival at the CFPB in June 2011, she hasn’t received a single case or enforcement matter, despite a successful legal career prior to arriving at the Bureau. She further alleges she was retaliated against after she filed an EEO complaint, and described the Bureau as having a “culture of retaliation and intimidation.” The investigator assigned to the complaint testified that she ”became a veritable hotline for employees at CFPB, who called to discuss their own maltreatment at the Bureau.” The investigator also found that the complainant was, in fact, retaliated against after filing her EEO complaint.
Wall Street Journal | The Growth Deficit
The biggest current obstacles are the regulatory burdens still moving through the economy from Dodd-Frank, ObamaCare, and the rest of the damage from the Pelosi Congress. Hard to believe, but Dodd-Frank is only half implemented.
Posted by Staff on April 30, 2014
Republicans and Democrats on the House Financial Services Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee voted 20-0 to subpoena two CFPB officials and a union representative as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the Bureau.
Washington Post: House Panel Approves Subpoenas for CFPB Discrimination Probe
Cleveland Plain Dealer: Congressional Panel Votes to Subpoena Richard Cordray's Aides in Discrimination Probe
Columbus Dispatch: Cordray Staffers Subpoenaed in Discrimination Probe
Toledo Blade: Konop Set to Testify in Bureau Bias Allegations
American Banker: House Panel Votes to Subpoena CFPB Employees
The Hill: House Panel Subpoenas CFPB Officials on Discrimination Claims
Posted by Staff on April 07, 2014
On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. the Full Committee will hold a hearing to examine the economic consequences of recent rulemaking, supervisory, and enforcement actions of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Reserve Board, the National Credit Union Administration and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on consumers, community financial institutions, the U.S. economy, and our domestic job-creating businesses.
On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee will hold a hearing to discuss legislative proposal to enhance capital formation for small and emerging growth companies.
Be sure to check back here on the Bottom Line Blog -- and sign up for our email updates -- for additional information throughout the week.
Posted by Staff on March 31, 2014
The House is in session Tuesday through Friday this week.
Here’s what’s happening:
On Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine allegations of discrimination and retaliation within the CFPB.
Committee staff has received corroborating information from a CFPB employee who alleges she has experienced gender discrimination and retaliation for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint with the CFPB’s Human Capital Office. The CFPB retained an outside investigator to examine the whistleblower’s claims. The investigator
confirmed the whistleblower’s claims of retaliation. Both the whistleblower and the investigator who examined her claims will testify at the hearing. CFPB officials have also been invited to testify.
Be sure to check back here on the Bottom Line Blog -- and sign up for our email updates -- for additional information throughout the week.
Posted by Staff on March 28, 2014
Committee Holds First in a Series of Hearings on the Impact of the National Debt
On Tuesday, the Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the threat posed by our nation's rising national debt. Tuesday’s hearing was the first in a series of hearings the committee has planned to focus attention on the harmful impact the debt has on economic growth, jobs, national security, and the federal government’s ability to fund discretionary spending and entitlement programs.
"Recently, I saw in the newspaper a headline that read, ‘Debts, deficits - once a focus – fade from agenda.’ Shame on us if we allow that headline to prove accurate. In the last six years we’ve accumulated more national debt than we did in our nation’s first 200 years. We’re experiencing debt to GDP ratios not seen since the aftermath of World War II. That level of debt was episodic and temporary; today’s is structural and unsustainable. As a veteran of the Super Committee, Simpson-Bowles, and now chair of this committee, my laptop is regrettably full of reports describing our debt as ‘unsustainable.’ Yet denial, justification and inaction continue to rule the day," said Chairman Hensarling.
"That is why as Chairman I am launching a series of hearings to be focused on the pending debt crisis. There is much at stake. We can no longer allow the debt deniers among us to mask the threat or change the subject. I believe any reasonable examination of history and economics will show that we are indeed headed for a debt crisis. It is the most foreseeable crisis in our nation’s history. As members of the House of Representatives, we can disagree about the solutions to avert the crisis, but we should unanimously agree that debt matters and debt matters today," Hensarling said.
Expert witnesses urged Washington to refocus its attention on the debt crisis. “For those who think this is just a Wall Street problem, look at it this way: When 10 year Treasury notes go to seven percent, and as a result home mortgages go to 10 percent and car loans to 13 percent, families will have fewer dollars,” said David M. Cote, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell, in his testimony.“That’s now a Main Street problem.”
The witnesses agreed that low-income Americans would be some of the most hurt if Washington fails to act now and change our fiscal path.
Allegations of Discrimination and Retaliation Against CFPB Employees to Be Focus of Hearing Next Week
Allegations that the CFPB has engaged in discrimination and retaliation against its employees will be the subject of a Financial Services Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing next week.
The subcommittee hearing comes amid reports, first published in the American Banker, that CFPB managers “show a pattern of ranking white employees distinctly better than minorities in performance reviews used to grant raises and issue bonuses” and that “management has been accused in several cases of favoring Caucasian men and of creating a hostile work environment.”
"The revelations uncovered in the American Banker story are extremely troubling,” said Chairman McHenry. “Coupled with the significant number of discrimination claims filed by CFPB employees, this raises serious questions about the management of the Bureau.”
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick | Fitzpatrick Highlights Newtown, PA Student Letters in Financial Services Hearing
“Mr. Chairman, these letters have all been received in my office since January this year – and they’re all about the national debt. The interesting thing about these letters is that every one of them was written by a teenager concerned about the national debt,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick.
Weekend Must Reads
Dallas Morning News | Chairman Hensarling "National Debt Matters in a Big Way"
'Debt matters — and we can’t keep waiting for the next election or next generation to tackle it. To quote a Kenny Chesney song, “Everybody wants to go to heaven … but nobody wants to go now.” If we don’t “go now,” it’s not just our children, but many of us who will soon live in smaller homes, compete for fewer jobs with shrinking paychecks, live in a less secure America, and be limited to small, timid dreams. This is America. We can and we must do better.
Wall Street Journal | Obama's IMF Gambit
One of President Obama's favorite legislative gambits is wait and hurry up. Witness his attempt, which failed Tuesday in the Senate, to link urgent aid for Ukraine to International Monetary Fund changes negotiated by G-20 countries four years ago.
American Banker | DOJ’s 'Operation Choke Point': An Attack on Market Economy
History teaches that when government bureaucracies try to direct economies, stifled creativity, distorted markets and low economic growth are inevitable results. One of the easiest and most insidious ways for bureaucrats to control the U.S. economy is through the banks, directing who gets – and who can't get – loans and other essential banking services. That's happening today, and it ought to alarm and frighten all of us.
Investor's Business Daily | Reaganomics Vs. Obamanomics: Two Wholly Different Outcomes
Contrary to President Obama's prescription of more government spending and regulation, President Reagan diagnosed government as the problem and prescribed a plan of lowering tax rates and reducing regulations to free firms and workers from disincentives to invest and work.
Posted by Staff on March 27, 2014
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling is trying to draw attention back to the nation’s mounting debt ahead of midterm elections that are more likely to revolve around Obamacare.
The Texas Republican scheduled a series of hearings on the debt, he says, after reading a newspaper article that noted that the national debt had faded from the agenda.
He held the first hearing Tuesday, inviting experts to testify on the debt and warning in his opening statement that “unsustainable levels of debt are harming our country today as we speak.”
In making the case that the debt is harming the economy, Hensarling warned that the interest on the debt is expected to cost $233 billion in 2014, more than seven times “the requested annual budget for the National Institutes of Health. Let us reflect upon all the childhood cancer studies going unfunded today because of our national debt.”
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More broadly, Hensarling expressed concern that interest payments, the rising cost of retirement programs as the baby boomers age, and increasing health care costs could crowd out other spending priorities. "Is entitlement spending going to be the ‘blob’ that ate discretionary government?” he asked.
Alice Rivlin, a Brookings Institution scholar testifying at the hearing, responded, “I think it already has been. In my view we’ve already cut discretionary spending to unsustainable levels.”
Rivlin, who served as a budget adviser to President Bill Clinton, noted that the Clinton administration prepared a deficit reduction plan in 1993, when rising interest rates forced net interest payments to 14 percent of total government spending.
“We were worried that unless we reduced the deficit and the projected build-up of debt, we would end up having to raise taxes or cut other spending just to pay the increasing debt service,” Rivlin said, adding that “the chances of getting into a similar bind are higher now” because of the higher level of debt.
The federal deficit fell from $1.1 trillion in 2012 to $680 billion in 2013, with the Congressional Budget Office expecting a further decline to $514 billion in fiscal 2014. But the public debt is 72 percent of U.S. economic output, and projected to be 79 percent and rising in 2024. In the long run, the CBO projects the debt, driven by the rising cost of entitlement programs, to continue growing, to 110 percent of GDP in 2038.
Over the next 10 years, the CBO anticipates that mandatory spending — automatic spending on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security — will continue to rise, as will the cost of interest payments on the debt. Discretionary spending, which is all appropriated spending, including for defense programs, will drop from 7.2 to just over 5 percent of GDP.
As for interest payments, they are currently relatively low, at 6 percent of all government spending. That is thanks to a depressed economy and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to lower rates through quantitative easing.
But the Office of Management and Budget sees net interest costs rising again over the course of the decade as the economy improves, rates rise and the Treasury refinances the debt. Interest payments as a share of federal spending is expected to double, to nearly 12 percent, or $550 billion, by 2019 — assuming no adverse market reaction at any point.
Democratic minority whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland raised concerns similar to Hensarling’s on Monday, saying at a speech in Washington that “without action, we will be a nation that can’t invest in its own people” because of rising mandatory and interest spending.
“Every dollar we spend on interest is a dollar we can’t spend on Head Start, nutrition assistance, job training, infrastructure, innovation, support for public schools and early education, and other investments that help more of our people make it in America,” said Hoyer, noting that “those investments are already being crowded out.”
Hoyer also cited a report from the left-of-center think tank Third Way that found that the federal government spent $3 on public investments for every $1 it spent on entitlements, but that ratio was reversed by 2012, and projected to fall to one-to-five by 2022.
Posted by Staff on March 27, 2014
From House Republican Conference:
On Tuesday, the House Financial Services Committee convened a hearing examining our nation's debt and why it matters. Witnesses included David M. Cote, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell; Alice Rivlin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office; and Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum. In this week’s Committee Spotlight, Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) provides a recap of the hearing, plus key clips of witness testimony.
Please also see below the Read Out from the Hearing:
House Financial Services Committee Examines the Impact of our Nation's Debt
On Tuesday, March 25, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on why the national debt matters. This was the first in what will be a series of hearings focused on the threat posed by our nation’s spending-driven debt crisis that the committee will hold this year.
Our nation is on an unsustainable fiscal path that leads to national bankruptcy – driven by spending money we don’t have. Over the next 10 years, according to CBO’s baseline estimates, spending will grow as a share of GDP by 10% while revenues will grow by only 5%. Republicans and Democrats in Congress can disagree on what the federal government spends money on or the appropriate level of revenue, but everyone should be able to agree that when spending grows at twice the rate of revenue – that’s a serious problem.
The national debt is merely a symptom, the disease is out-of-control spending. To quote President Obama, the "major driver of our [debt]...is Medicare and Medicaid and our health care spending. Nothing else comes close." The only way we will solve our nation's debt crisis is to stop spending money we don't have and to get serious about reforming our nation's entitlement programs.
The threats posed by our spending-driven debt crisis are not academic; they have real world implications for the daily lives of the American people. Failure to deal with our nation's out of control spending and unsustainable debt poses a threat to jobs, our economy, and our national security.
According to CBO’s Long-Term Budget Outlook, a large and growing debt would have “significant negative consequences for both the economy and the federal budget.”
Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “I think the biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt.”
According to the Heritage Foundation, in 2030, entitlements plus interest will consume ALL tax revenues – requiring spending on every other federal priority, from the National Defense to Food Stamps and to housing vouchers, to be borrowed.
Witnesses at Tuesday’s hearing included public and private sector experts who discussed the harm our rising national debt has on our economy. Some of the key statements from these witnesses include:
David M. Cote, Chairman and CEO of Honeywell: “For those who think this is just a Wall Street problem, look at it this way: When 10 year Treasury notes go to seven percent, and as a result home mortgages go to 10 percent and car loans to 13 percent, families will have fewer dollars. That’s now a Main Street problem.”
Alice Rivlin, a former Congressional Budget Office Director who also served as director of the Office of Management and Budget and is now with the Brookings Institution: ““High levels of debt increase our vulnerability to shifts in investor confidence and the whims of foreign governments. With substantial fractions of U.S. Treasuries held by foreign governments and central banks, this is a serious concern and can limit our foreign policy flexibility.”
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office: “The federal budget outlook is quite dire, harms economic growth, and ultimately raises the real threat of a sovereign debt crisis. The severity of the consequences of an eventual crisis, rather than the capacity to predict its exact timing, should induce the urgency to address it, and hearings such as this advance that goal.”
The national debt is the single greatest existential threat facing our nation and it is a disservice to the American people not to put this threat front and center of every debate in Washington.
Posted by Staff on March 26, 2014
On Tuesday, the Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the threat posed by America’s rising national debt. Tuesday’s hearing was the first in a series of hearings the committee has planned to focus attention on the harmful impact the debt has on economic growth, jobs, national security, and the federal government’s ability to fund discretionary spending and entitlement programs.
Posted by Staff on March 16, 2014
Posted by Staff on March 14, 2014
By Rep. John Campbell
Chairman of the Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade
The Obama Administration is deliberately holding up economic assistance to Ukraine by trying to make permanent a temporary U.S. investment in the International Monetary Fund. The Administration is not being honest about what the IMF quota increase would actually mean for Ukraine, nor is it being transparent with the American people on the risks that this new investment will carry.
The fact is that the IMF currently has assistance programs that would allow Ukraine to borrow billions of dollars, and would have the added benefit of being paired with much needed technical assistance. The Administration’s push to make additional funds available through the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) does nothing to correct the serious structural challenges that will continue to face the Ukrainian economy. In fact, increased access to the RFI would merely provide one month’s worth of assistance to Ukraine. This is not a serious approach towards providing the kind of relief that Ukraine needs. Additionally, the loan guarantees that the House passed last week would provide more than double the assistance that the marginal increase in RFI access would provide.
The fact of the matter is that Ukraine needs more sustainable financial assistance and serious economic reforms. We have seen in the IMF’s experience with Greece that by not forcing private creditors to shoulder significant losses, debt burdens could remain unsustainable even with an IMF loan. The Administration should be forcing these creditors to the table, many of whom are Russian, in order to negotiate a debt restructuring. Failing to do so is effectively allowing the IMF to perform a backdoor bailout of Russian investors.
The Administration argues that by ratifying the increase in quota, the IMF will implement some governance changes. What the Administration is not saying is that the governance changes only incrementally address a fundamental problem of outsized European influence on the Board of Directors. Even if the reforms are implemented, Europe would continue to have at least six times more representation than the United States. Europe has wielded this influence to force the IMF to shoulder more of the financial burden in European bailouts, sparing losses for European banks.
If the Administration wants to have an honest discussion about its role in the IMF, the role of the IMF in the world, and what should be done to improve its governance, then we should engage in these debates in a thoughtful manner removed from the pressure of quickly providing assistance to Ukraine. Congress only recently received an official request from the President on the quota increase, when he included it in his late budget submission a few weeks ago. What the Administration should do is seek stronger IMF reforms that include more balanced representation on the Board of Directors and is less reliant on U.S. taxpayer funds.