Friday, June 9, 2017

The "Financial Choice Act" is a Choose to Lose Act

James Comey Before the Senate Intelligence Committee, June 8, 2017
While the American public has been riveted to the TV as former FBI Director, James Comey, tells us what we already know about President Donald Trump's attempts to "deal" his way out of the Russia collusion investigation, and TV pundits tell us all over again what Comey was asked and what Comey said, and what it all means, etc., ad nauseam, Congressional Republicans have been going about the business of remaking America in their own image; repealing the Affordable Care Act, rolling back environmental regulations, pulling America out of the Paris Climate Accord, instituting a travel ban on mostly Muslim countries, cutting corporate taxes, de-funding Planned Parenthood, making bathrooms "safe again," etc.

Much of what the Republican Congress is doing involves rather arcane law. For example, yesterday, June 8th, while Comey was testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the House approved legislation to erase a number of core financial regulations put in place by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. The bill’s passage in the House, by 233 to 186, along party lines, is another of the Republican Party’s efforts to erase one of President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishments.

During the campaign, Republicans argued that Hillary Clinton was too close to Wall Street. Now, Republicans are giving a handout to Wall Street while putting everyday investors at risk. A Party led by a president who knows how to "do bankruptcy" apparently reassures Republican Congressional leaders that it's all going to "make America great again." Like it was in 2008.
One of the key provisions of the Republican bill is gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a core creation of Dodd-Frank. The bureau's independence would be removed; it would be placed under the executive-branch, with a director who could be removed at will by the president.

The current Director, Richard Cordray, could be invited to a private dinner with President Trump, just as Comey was, and asked to eat crow. If he claimed to be a vegan, he would be summarily fired, and learn of his termination while watching the Nightly Business Report on PBS, still broadcasting despite Trump's budget cuts to public media.

The House legislation would also strip the CFPB of its authority to police “unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practises.” Under the plan, the agency would lose its oversight of the payday loans market, you know those outfits that charge up to 400% interest, and pray on the most vulnerable members of our society (many of whom, ironically, are Trump supporters).

Also, the Republican plan would revoke the Volcker Rule, a Dodd-Frank provision that bans banks from trading with their customers' savings for their own gain. This effectively shifts the risk from the bank to the consumer and ultimately, the taxpayer. This creates the same moral hazard that almost brought the U.S. economy to its knees in 2007-2008.

The bill would also eliminate the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, which requires brokers to act in the best interest of their clients when providing investment advice about retirement. Although such a requirement might seem intuitively obvious to those of us not earning 6 or 7-figure bonuses, it's a real hindrance to the accumulation of wealth for the Republican constituency.

The bottom line (no pun intended) is that Americans must pay attention to what is actually going on in congress, bills that if enacted into law, will actually impact their health and welfare. Our 4th CD congressman Dan Newhouse voted yes on the Financial Choice Act. Call him (202-225-5816) and express your opinion of his "choice" to abandon his constituents to the wiles of Wall Street.

Then call senators Murray and Cantwell and urge them to vote against this bill. While you're at it, tell them you think Donald Trump should be impeached.

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