I admit it. When it comes to federal agencies, there have been some problems. Take the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which for whatever reason (captured by industry, asleep at the wheel - no pun intended) has failed to prevent many recent auto safety crises. Or the Food and Drug Administration, which is doing great work on generic drugs but has had a more than troubled history in other areas. (Vioxx anyone?) (Although I do hope they get increased oversight over cosmetics, which is long overdue.)
But there’s one federal agency that seems to be outshining them all and in a good way: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 and it regulates the activities of large banks and credit unions as well as non-bank financial service providers, such as mortgage companies, payday lenders, auto financing companies, private student lenders, debt collectors, debt relief companies and credit reporting agencies. In its very short life so far, CFPB enforcement actions have resulted in $5 billion in relief for roughly 15 million consumers. Such actions have also led to at least $150 million in civil penalties for illegal corporate practices.
Since 2012, the Bureau has issued over 60 new rules to protect consumers using financial products and services, with dozens of proposed regulations currently under review. And in March, the CFPB issued an extraordinary 700 plus-page empirical study on forced arbitration. (The Center for Justice & Democracy has a comprehensive fact sheet here.)
This is what you’d call an effective and efficient federal agency, doing its job protecting consumers and holding corporate lawbreakers accountable. This is what you’d also call an agency that is messing up the narrative of the current U.S. House leadership. So this afternoon, they are going to try to defund the CFPB. Not abolish it, mind you. Just make the agency unable to function.
Here’s a strong letter from 16 national groups opposing this bill, H.R. 1195. The broad impact of the bill may not be evident from the bill’s language. However, it would devastate the agency. The group letter explains why.
If you would like to weigh in, opposing this bill and supporting of the CFPB, now’s the time!