The Supreme Court hears a case Tuesday about whether the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s structure as an independent agency with a single director is unconstitutional. That may seem like a narrow and technical issue, but it raises the fundamental question before us in the 2020 election: can we make our government work for the people?
In 2007, I came up with the idea for the CFPB — a new federal agency dedicated to protecting families from predatory financial products and holding financial firms accountable for cheating consumers. I had spent years studying how Wall Street banks and other financial predators were loading up mortgages, credit card contracts, and other financial documents with tricks and traps designed to cheat families. Those predatory mortgages set the stage for the financial crisis and recession that followed, costing millions of Americans their homes, their jobs, and their savings.
Federal regulators had most of the tools they needed to stop this predatory behavior but they didn’t use them. They often did the opposite — actively opposing attempts by states to protect consumers from these practices. Why did they fail? Simple. They were captured by the banking industry they were supposed to regulate. I wasn’t in politics after the 2008 crisis hit, but when Congress got involved to reform the financial sector, I saw my chance to end this corrupt, captured regulatory system, and I pushed hard to make the CFPB a reality. Lobbyists try to neuter CFPB
We built a coalition and mobilized people all across the country to push politicians to stand with consumers instead with the banks. And despite intense lobbying from special interests, President Obama signed that agency into law. Since the agency opened its doors in 2010, it has returned nearly $12 billion to people who were cheated.
The CFPB has been a success in part because Congress designed it to be insulated from the undue influence of Wall Street. Instead of funding from banks (like other financial regulators) or from Congress, the CFPB’s funding comes from the Federal Reserve, which keeps it independent of influence. Instead of a multimember commission that can be deadlocked and ineffective, the CFPB has a single-director who serves a five-year term. And instead of a head who can be fired at the president’s whim (that is, if the president’s Wall Street friends clamor loud enough), the head of the CFPB can only be removed for good cause. Put these together and it’s clear why the CFPB doesn’t see the big banks as its “customers.” The CFPB’s only client is the American people, and this has driven Wall Street crazy.
A sign stands at the construction site for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new headquarters in Washington, Monday, Aug. 27, 2018. Seth Frotman, the nation’s top government official overseeing the $1.5 trillion student loan market resigned on Monday, citing what he says is the White House’s open hostility toward protecting student loan borrowers. Frotman is the latest high-level departure from the CFPB since Mick Mulvaney took over in late November. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ORG XMIT: DCAH104 (Photo: AP)
Because the CFPB’s design allows for effective government and prevents interest group capture, Wall Street and its GOP allies have tried for years to kill off the agency. Republicans have sponsored bill after bill trying to eliminate the agency, defund it, or turn it into a gridlocked, ineffective commission like the Securities and Exchange Commission or Federal Election Commission. As a Senator, I have spent years fighting off challenge after challenge in Congress.No constitutional violation
Having failed at getting legislation passed, Wall Street, with the aid of the Trump administration, are now turning to the most conservative, business-friendly Supreme Court in generations as their newest attempt to neuter the agency. They argue that having an independent single director agency violates the separation of powers.
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But what the CFPB shows just what government can accomplish when it is freed from the corruption of corporate influence. It’s a model for what government should be, and it is the model of how a Warren administration will govern. That’s why Wall Street and its Republican allies are so determined to destroy it. And that’s why the stakes of this case are so high — and why appointments to the high court are so important. The Supreme Court will decide whether Congress can design agencies in ways that allow for restoring effective, trustworthy government. If the Court instead follows the corporate-friendly ideology that led to decisions like Citizens United, they’ll make it harder for government to defend the people against economic predators — and harder for Congress to build government agencies that aren’t beholden to deep-pocketed interest groups.
Wall Street, the Trump administration, and their Republican friends might well win before this conservative Supreme Court. But millions of Americans will be watching, and if the Court sides with bankers over families, we’ll be ready to continue the fight to rein in Wall Street.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a Democratic presidential candidate. judi deposit pulsa