Consumer protection disappearing under Trump

A new study from the Consumer Federation of America demonstrates just how much damage the Trump administration has done to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the agency set up by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill to protect Americans against harmful financial practices. The CFBP was given authority to investigate and enforce federal consumer financial law, and did just that under President Barack Obama.

After Obama-era Director Richard Cordray left in 2017 and Mick Mulvaney was put in temporary charge, the CFPBs’s enforcement activity and assistance to Americans cheated by financial services corporations has plummeted. It’s gotten even worse since Mulvaney crony Kathy Kraninger was confirmed several months ago. The CFPB averaged about $43 million in restitution to consumers for every week Cordray was in office. “In the relatively few cases resolved since,” CFA finds “this amount has plummeted to about $6.4 million per week under Acting Director Mulvaney and most recently dropped again to about $925,000 per week under Director Kraninger.”

Post-Cordray, CFPB “has not announced a single dollar of monetary relief in any of the high-volume complaint areas of credit reporting, debt collection, or student lending.” That means none of the people who were cheated in any of these areas and brought their complaints to the Bureau have seen restitution.

Some of the key findings by the CFA:

  • The number of public enforcement cases announced in 2018 declined by 80 percent from its peak in 2015, from 55 law enforcement actions to just 11.
  • The average amount of monetary relief per case awarded to victims of illegal consumer financial practices has declined by approximately 96 percent.
  • The CFPB after Cordray “announced just two cases enforcing the Fair Credit Reporting Act and settled both without providing a single dollar of restitution to victims of illegal practices.”
  • Under Mulvaney and Director Kraninger, the CFPB has announced only one case enforcing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and settled this case without ordering a single dollar of restitution to victims.
  • Under Cordray, enforcement in 61 mortgage lending cases returned nearly $3 billion to consumers. Under Acting Mulvaney, enforcement and restitution declined by over 99 percent to less than $5,000 per week for the entire nation. Kraninger, hasn’t initiated a single mortgage-related case.
  • Under Cordray, the CFPB brought 15 student lending related cases and provided an average of $47.5 million in consumer relief per case. Since his departure, “the CFPB has not announced or resolved a single student lending enforcement case and has provided no restitution to any consumers.”

It’s the same story in enforcement of a law intended to prohibit discrimination under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act. There were 11 high-profile cases under Cordray, returning more than $56 million per case to consumers. Not one single unlawful discrimination case has been initiated or concluded under the Trump administration.

Public Citizen issued a similar report this week, finding that the bureau issued no enforcement actions for the five months after Cordray left. “If corporations can get away with breaking the law with no consequences, they will do it all the time,” Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen told USA Today. “We’ve seen dramatic shifts from the relatively modest enforcement efforts by the Obama administration to the barely visible, anemic efforts by the Trump administration.”

With Republicans in charge, Main Street doesn’t have a chance against Wall Street.