Have you ever been an eyewitness to an event and later seen it written about in a way that directly contradicts your experience? As three people who witnessed close-up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as it began its work after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, we are having that sensation as lawmakers in Congress rationalize their proposed evisceration of the agency.
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What we saw as the CFPB developed was an extraordinary effort to move effectively and carefully to prevent the abuses that led to the financial crisis. The CFPB sought varied advice on every rule and policy it adopted. We were impressed time and again at how the agency carefully weighed market impacts and tried to understand how complex financial regulatory choices would impact everyday consumer decisions. * * *
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The Financial Choice Act, * * * would hobble the CFPB’s ability to attack unfair and deceptive practices, allegedly because this authority is “opaque and ill-defined.” This is the exact same law enforced by the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers for 80 years and the most commonly invoked authority of state attorneys general in consumer protection enforcement. The CFPB has used this authority extensively in returning over $12 billion to consumers who were deceived or treated unfairly by banks and other financial institutions.