Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, released a Democratic staff report documenting the successes of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (Consumer Bureau). In the report, Democratic Committee staff discuss the devastating effects of the 2008 financial crisis that led to the creation of the Consumer Bureau, the types of consumer protections enacted by the Consumer Bureau, the effectiveness of its consumer complaint database, and the unwarranted threats from Congressional Republicans to the Consumer Bureau. The Consumer Bureau’s long-awaited rule on mandatory arbitration is an important case study in the report.
"Republicans in Congress have been clamoring to weaken and ultimately destroy the Consumer Bureau since its creation,” said Ranking Member Waters (D-CA). “First, they did everything they could to block a Director from being appointed in the first place, and since then, they’ve pushed measures to defund and dismantle the Consumer Bureau. They have also challenged the Consumer Bureau’s structure, with support from unfounded legal challenges by industry. The Chairman of the Financial Services Committee, Jeb Hensarling, has called for the Consumer Bureau to be ‘functionally terminated.’ He has unleashed the oversight and investigative powers of the Committee onto the Bureau. And of course, he introduced and has carried the bill to dismantle Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Bureau, which I call the ‘Wrong Choice Act.’ I’ve been leading the fight against these attempts to undermine the Consumer Bureau. The Consumer Bureau is an invaluable ally to consumers, and its work must continue.”
Democratic Staff Findings:
After careful review of the weak consumer protections before the financial crisis, and the Consumer Bureau’s impressive track record in standing up for consumers, even in the face of hyper-partisan attacks from Republicans, this report makes seven findings:
- Before the Consumer Bureau was created, financial regulators prioritized the profitability of financial institutions over the well-being of hardworking American consumers.
- Despite relentless Republican attempts to undermine and gut the Consumer Bureau, it has effectively protected consumers from unfair, deceptive or abusive acts and practices.
- The Consumer Bureau has consistently proven that it operates in a nonpartisan, fair and data-driven manner, conducting exhaustive reviews prior to issuing any rulings or enforcement actions.
- The Consumer Bureau is fully responsive to the wide-ranging financial challenges confronting an increasingly diverse consumer demographic.
- The Consumer Bureau’s frequent testimony before Congress, semiannual reports, and good faith responses to abusive congressional oversight, has demonstrated it is fully accountable for its actions. .
- The conduct of Republicans towards the Consumer Bureau under the guise of “Congressional oversight” is designed to undermine the Bureau’s primary mission: protecting hardworking Americans from predatory financial actors and ensuring markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive.
- Although the Consumer Bureau’s arbitration rule is a case study in thoughtful, effective rulemaking, it immediately became the subject of unfair partisan attacks from Republicans in Congress and Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika.
In conclusion, the Consumer Bureau has successfully helped people around the country with their mortgages, credit cards, student loans, credit scores, and other financial products; it has enacted a number of consumer protections to help individuals and families take control of their economic lives; and it has processed millions of consumer complaints and ensured that consumers receive timely responses from financial institutions. The Consumer Bureau is an invaluable ally to consumers, and its work must continue.
To read the full report, click here.