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We Must Build on Wall Street Reform, Not Dismantle It

By Rep. Maxine Waters

It’s been eight years since the financial crisis devastated our economy and six years since Democrats passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act to get us back on the road to recovery. As Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, I’m proud that our efforts have led to financial system that is safer, fairer, and stronger.

Under the Obama Administration, we’ve had 76 straight months of job growth, the deficit has been cut by two-thirds, and American households have recovered more than $30 trillion in net worth.

In addition, Americans no longer need to worry if their mortgages will explode, if they’ll be discriminated against when taking out a car loan, or, when the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau finalizes its rules, if they will be trapped in a never-ending cycle of debt from predatory payday lenders. The CFPB is at the heart of Dodd-Frank as the only financial regulator solely dedicated to protecting consumer interests. The CFPB turns five this year and in that short amount of time has already returned more than $11.4 billion to over 25 million Americans who have been harmed.

Compare that to what consumer life was like before Dodd-Frank and the CFPB it created. We had reckless behavior on Wall Street, with executives and mortgage brokers looking to turn a profit at the expense of Americans searching for a home. We had regulators judging banks by the health of their profits alone, even if those profits came on the backs of working people trying to make ends meet. When it comes to mortgages, credit cards and other consumer products, that kind of lax regulation is now a thing of the past. Americans know that they have Dodd-Frank to thank for that.

We also now have an agency that oversees the entire financial system. The Financial Stability Oversight Council fills the regulatory gaps that allowed risky financial practices to flourish because no one was watching. It is an advanced warning system poised to identify and address systemic risks before they happen.

Additionally, we have the tools necessary to end “Too Big To Fail” so that taxpayers are not on the hook if our largest banks falter. Instead, banks have to develop their own wills that would provide for an orderly shutdown, and regulators have a safe way to liquidate a firm if it does fail. New capital and leverage requirements ensure that financial institutions have the resources on hand to mitigate financial distress and have less incentive to grow too big.

Despite all this, Republicans have been working to undermine these reforms since the very beginning. They’ve proposed changes that would rig the system so that it works for the moneyed few on Wall Street and against the rest of us – and take us back to the darkest days of the financial crisis and the worst excesses of the subprime meltdown. We’ve seen dozens of bills that would undermine the CFPB and FSOC, repeal orderly liquidation authority, weaken rules for large and interconnected banks, weaken investor and shareholder protections, and undo transparency in derivatives markets.

The culmination of these efforts is a massive deregulation plan from the Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, which would irresponsibly replace our robust regulatory framework with weak capital standards and insufficient consumer protections. It’s the Wrong Choice for Americans who want tough oversight of Wall Street.

That’s why Democrats have consistently acted to support and fully fund the regulators who are keeping our financial system safe. We should be building on the reforms in Dodd-Frank so that everyone has a fair shot at economic success -- not dismantling the reforms that have made our financial markets safer, fairer, and stronger.

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