It was exactly seven years ago -- July 21, 2010. I was a professor and a witness at a Senate hearing about the TARP Wall Street bailout.
I remember that day perfectly because July 21, 2010 was also the day President Obama signed Dodd-Frank -- the Wall Street reform bill that toughened up the rules for Wall Street and created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The financial industry hated all of it, but they really, really hated the idea of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They spent more than a million dollars a day lobbying against Wall Street reform, and their main target was to stop a new agency whose sole purpose is to make sure Wall Street couldn't cheat people in the fine print of mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and other financial products.
We didn't have any lobbyists on our side. No big money donors. But we had people all across this country who fought back and won -- and today is the sixth anniversary of that little agency opening its doors.
The CFPB is government that works for the people. That's the good news -- but there's bad news, too. The CFPB is under attack.
President Donald Trump has promised "a major elimination of the horrendous Dodd-Frank regulations." The 2016 GOP Platform said the director of the CFPB had "dictatorial powers" and called for the agency to be abolished. And just last month, the House Republicans passed a bill called the "Financial CHOICE Act" that would roll back Wall Street reform and gut the CFPB.
The big banks and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists are thrilled that the Republican leadership wants to fire the cops on Main Street -- and that shouldn't help you sleep at night. In 2016 alone, even with Dodd-Frank in place, the banks haven't given up on trying to scam their way to higher profits:
- Deutsche Bank hid so much risk on its books that the International Monetary Fund said it posed a substantial threat to the global financial system.
- Wells Fargo was caught opening more than two million fake accounts in an effort to pump up its stock price.
- And Citigroup agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for manipulative practices that gave it an illegal advantage in trades.
Meanwhile, the big banks are still "too big to fail." Actually, some are bigger than ever.
The financial crisis is long past, yet the banking sector is still loaded with corporations that could blow up the economy? Good grief. We need stronger rules, not weaker ones. And we need a strong consumer agency in place that's fighting for some accountability and a level playing field.
Will you fight your heart out for the CFPB with me? Sign up now to say you're in.
Happy Birthday, CFPB!