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Tue Nov 28, 2017, 05:20 PM

The Last AntiWall Street Agency in DC Is Being Eaten from the Inside

Despite all the bluster and drain the swamp rhetoric, the first year of Donald Trump's presidency has laid waste to the very pretense of good government. Billionaires with flagrant conflicts of interest dictate economic policy. The president and his immediate family constantly draw cameras and bodies to commercial properties they own, and along the way get richer. The Trump Hotel in DC is a cesspool of lobbying by nebulous interests none of us can really understand. The legal system is apparently incapable of convicting anyone of corruption who is not caught on camera saying. "I am being bribed and I like it." The Republican Congress has been relentlessly pro–Wall Street, last month voting to roll back a not-yet-effective regulation from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would have made it easier to sue banks.

But until this week, the CFPB represented a lone brick in the vast federal bureaucracy that, at least when Congress didn't get in the way, was holding it down for the little guy. Now the Trump administration is using a bureaucrat's resignation to set the stage for the destruction of the agency. And they might get away with it.

After a financial crisis precipitated in no small part by a toxic mortgage boom gone bust, legislators—at least on the Democratic side—were determined to set up a watchdog with some real muscle behind it. The brainchild of Elizabeth Warren, who before she was a senator and the butt of Trump's racist jokes was a consumer advocate and Harvard law professor, the CFPB was empowered by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law with issuing rules (a.k.a. regulations) governing a wide variety of financial products. The CFPB can impose legally-binding restrictions on everything from mortgages to payday loans to debit cards; it can also fine offenders, ban bad practices, and dish out relief to wronged consumers


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