It should come as no surprise that when Republicans tell us they are protecting “freedoms,” they don’t mean ours.” When they claim to be holding Wall Street “accountable,” they’re concerned only with the “account” part.
The new “Financial CHOICE Act” Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) introduced last month shouldn’t fool us either. Being sold as financial reform and Wall Street accountability, it eliminates major consumer protections put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, weakens regulatory powers predating the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, and destroys shareholders’ rights to hold companies accountable for corporate malfeasance.
Worse, House Republicans are hoping to slip this by without our noticing.
About the bill, Hensarling said:
“If we want strong economic growth and more freedom, we must empower Americans, not Washington bureaucrats.”
Translation: “We permit risky corporate behavior and practices that benefit Wall Street. We aim to remove regulators’ authority to protect Americans from corporate greed.”
According to Indivisible, the Financial CHOICE Act would do three things:
“1. Destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and obliterate consumer protections as we currently know them, including allowing banks to gouge consumers with debit card fees;
2. Deregulate the banks and financial institutions whose greed brought on the 2008 financial crisis and resulting economic downturn;
3. Eliminate opportunities for ordinary shareholders to formally engage with the companies in which they are invested.”
Following the economic downturn nine years ago, Congress created the CFPB to prevent big banks from being able to again wreak havoc on our economy. It protects American consumers from Wall Street avarice and abuse through the following steps:
- Supervising and enforcing action against big banks;
- Preventing unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices;
- Protecting against payday and car title lenders that charge sky-high interest rates, and
- Maintaining a public database of consumer complaints about financial firms
The Financial CHOICE Act would undermine these measures. It would make acting forcefully against unlawful consumer market practices impossible, which would make it easier for predatory lenders, big banks, and other financial companies to take advantage of people. It would repeal the Volcker Rule, prohibiting banks from gambling with customers’ money; the fiduciary rule requiring retirement investment advisers to act in their clients’ best interest; and the Durbin Amendment limiting transaction fees merchants impose upon debit card issuers.
This would open the floodgates to big banks that wish accumulate higher fees while ignoring community banks the provision does not cover. The CHOICE Act would limit regulators’ ability to ensure banks are managing responsibly and possess adequate funds available to shoulder potential losses without turning to taxpayer bailouts. It would give Wall Street new capabilities to overturn rules, and make it harder for regulators to enforce remaining rules.
Moreover, the Financial CHOICE Act would require shareholders who wish to formally engage in the shareholder proposal process to own one percent of company stock. For Fortune 100 companies, shareholders would need to own an average of $1.2 billion in stock, with a range of $6 million to $7.7 billion. This would harm local and international communities since Wall Street would be free to wallow in corporate greed.
So much for “choice.”
(More after the jump.)
So now that their little secret is out, Republican members of Congress need to know we know. They must understand it is not acceptable to charge us more money, put our money at risk, and eliminate shareholders’ rights. We must contact them and demand they oppose any plan to destroy the CFPB.
Call your member of Congress and tell him or her to oppose the Financial CHOICE Act and any bill that would dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and reduces regulation on Wall Street and financial firms.
Check out Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and her testimony about the Financial Choice Act (after the jump):
Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.