Fighting for Consumers

May 3, 2018
Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Today, not surprisingly, there are more controversies flying out of the Trump White House over the Russia investigation. And while I’m appalled by this news and working to hold this Administration accountable for its abuses, I believe we can’t ignore the damage being done by the President to essential consumer protections that we put in place after the 2008 financial crisis.

I’ve always made it a priority to protect and strengthen consumer rights. I’m especially proud of the Credit CARD Act, also known as the Credit Card Holders’ Bill of Rights, which I authored and President Obama signed into law. Since its passage, the law has saved credit card users like you $12 billion a year. The law banned credit card companies from using practices that the Federal Reserve deemed to be unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive.

It’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. Before the CARD Act, credit card companies could assess retroactive rate increases – in other words, they increased the interest rate after you had already borrowed the money. Companies could also set interest rates not on the amount you owed in the current month, but also on the amount you owed in the previous month – so-called double cycle billing – which dramatically increased borrowing costs. And they could impose large “over limit” fees, even when customers exceeded their credit limit by only small amounts.

I was constantly hearing from constituents who were being crushed by outrageous credit card fees so I did something about it. We faced stiff opposition, but we eventually passed the CARD Act and it continues to protect American consumers in many ways today.

But we didn’t stop with credit card reforms. I, and many others, fought to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to be our country’s first-ever agency with the sole mission of protecting consumers from shady and abusive financial services companies. Since its creation, the CFPB has saved 30 million consumers a whopping $12 billion, created new protections against payday lenders, and enforced the CARD Act’s protections. But this incredible progress has not only stalled under the Trump Administration, it is being reversed.

The President put OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, a man who once introduced legislation to abolish the CFPB, in charge of it. Since he took over, the CFPB has not taken a single action to protect consumers and Mr. Mulvaney is now trying to starve his own agency of the funding it needs to do its job. This is totally unacceptable. I’ve been fighting back to hold Mr. Mulvaney accountable for his inaction and demanding that he act in accordance with the agency’s mission to protect American consumers. At a recent hearing, I forced Mr. Mulvaney to acknowledge that his agency has been asleep at the wheel since he took over and I’ve called for my colleagues in Congress to make sure the CFPB’s budget is protected.

But I don’t think we can just play defense. I’m now working to build on the success of the CARD Act to do the same thing for abusive overdraft fees that banks often impose on checking accounts. I’ve authored the Overdraft Protection Act of 2017 (HR 3606) to crack down on these unfair fees that cost consumers $15 billion every year and so often hit those who can afford them the least – working men and women who are struggling to pay their bills.

As always, your priorities remain my top priorities. I will continue devote all my energy to fighting for you. Please contact my office with your thoughts and concerns.

Sincerely,

Carolyn B. Maloney

Member of Congress


Roll Call: Opinion - The Attack on the CFPB Threatens Consumers and Ignites a Race to the Bottom

 

I wrote in Roll Call about how Mick Mulvaney’s attack on the CFPB will hurt consumers and our economy but degrading trust and consumer protections.

Read more in Roll Call.


Reuters: U.S. lawmakers quiz Trump's consumer chief over lack of action

 

Mr. Mulvaney told us in House Financial Services Committee hearing that under his leadership the CFPB has taken no regulatory actions. I asked if that meant every single financial institution in America has suddenly snapped into full compliance with every single consumer financial law.

Read more in Reuters.