Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, delivered the following opening statement during a full Committee hearing entitled, “Protecting Consumers or Allowing Consumer Abuse? A Semi-Annual Review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
As Prepared for Delivery
Today, we welcome back Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger for her testimony on the Consumer Bureau’s semiannual report to Congress.
Let me just say at the outset that I remain very concerned about Director Kraninger’s misguided leadership of the Consumer Bureau.
Director Kraninger, since your confirmation as Consumer Bureau Director, you have undertaken a series of actions that have undermined the Consumer Bureau’s mission to protect consumers from harmful financial practices and products.
Most recently, I am appalled by your decision to issue a policy statement that undercuts the Dodd-Frank Act’s prohibition on unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices. You’ve made it harder for your own agency to crack down on abusive acts by financial institutions. With this policy statement, you have made it clear that under your watch bad actors will come first and consumers will come last.
Of course, this is consistent with your track record at the Consumer Bureau, so while I am appalled, I can’t say I’m surprised. In fact, at this point, I would be surprised if you actually did something meaningful to protect consumers.
You’ve only been leading the Consumer Bureau for almost 14 months and your track record has been decidedly anti-consumer. In that time, you have:
- delayed and weakened the Consumer Bureau’s payday, small-dollar and car title rule to curb abusive payday loans;
- issued a debt collection rule that only debt collectors can love because it allows them to engage in abusive debt collection practices with few limits;
- weakened reporting requirements under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, allowing redlining and discriminatory lending to proliferate undetected; and
- abandoned the Consumer Bureau’s longstanding defense of the constitutionality of its structure as an independent watchdog.
You’ve also eased up on enforcement and supervisory activity, taking a see-no-evil approach to enforcing our nation’s consumer protection laws. In some cases you gave bad actors a free pass by failing to require them to pay any restitution to the consumers they harmed. Under your leadership, it’s a great time for bad actors to rip off consumers because you have shown that if they do, you’re not going to do anything about it.
To add insult to injury, as a member of the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, you voted in favor of a harmful new rule proposed by Comptroller Otting on the implementation of the Community Reinvestment Act that would result in bank disinvestment in communities across the country.
I should not need to remind you, Director Kraninger, that Congress created the Consumer Bureau as a stalwart watchdog to protect consumers from the types of harmful and abusive practices that caused the 2008 financial crisis and led to economic catastrophe. America needs a strong Consumer Bureau that is vigilant and effective.
America needs better from you.
Today, Members of this Committee will be scrutinizing and asking tough questions about the actions you have taken.
This Committee will continue to shine a light on the Trump Administration’s anti-consumer activities, and we will continue to conduct rigorous oversight over the Consumer Bureau.