In recent days, many policymakers and analysts have noted the July 21 anniversary of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It marked the anniversary of President Obama signing the historic Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act into law.
The cornerstone of the law's reform was the creation of a new bureau dedicated solely to ensuring that when it came to financial services, consumers would have a cop-on-the-beat, fighting for and ensuring transparency and fairness.
CFPB has vigorously pursued its mission. In celebrating the anniversary, the Bureau announced that $4.6 billion has been returned to 15 million consumers. And here are four more consumer victories, thanks to CFPB actions:
- First-time federal protections and oversight for 30 million consumers involved in abusive debt collection and another 12 million consumers who use payday loans;
- 2.8 million unique visitors to its website, where information and complaint forms are available;
- $150 million in civil penalties ordered as a result of enforcement actions against businesses that violated consumer laws; and
- 775,000 consumers who have been helped to by CFPB's supervisory actions.
The irony is that despite these positive results, the 113th Congress has continued to propose a series of bills designed to dilute the power and effectiveness of the CFPB. From changing CFPB's governance to a multi-member commission, or revoking its independent, the anti-regulation players are still at work and according to Open Secrets, have donated nearly $248 million to anti-regulatory candidates.
In many ways, these are the same failed arguments that were made at the height of the nation's housing crisis and the advisability of reform.
The Bureau's anniversary comes at a time of increasing partisan divides. Two separate reports offered diverging views on Dodd-Frank and CFPB. While one stressed that the legislation failed to end "too big to fail," the other extolled the resulting efforts to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices and products that led to the 2008 crisis.
In a CNBC interview, the two former public servants whose names were added to the historic legislation, Barney Frank, former House Financial Services Committee chair, and Chris Dodd, former Senate Banking Committee chair, reminded viewers of why major reform was needed.
Noting the loss of $12 trillion in national wealth, 5 million homes foreclosed, taxpayer bailouts and more, Dodd remarked, "The carnage of the collapse of six years ago – we're still paying a price for it – dearly. The point of the legislation was to bring stability to it [the system], modernize regulation so that we could have a 21st Century system and get us out of the shadow banking system."
Speaking directly to the purpose of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Dodd added, "Have a consumer protection bureau that would give consumers with financial grievances some redress."
Concurring, Frank explained, "The abusive mortgage loans that hurt consumers, hurt financial services and hurt the economy – we outlawed them and they haven't been made since then. That's a real accomplishment. CFPB has recovered a lot of money for consumers."
From a consumer perspective, CFPB is clearly working. Further and as an old homily advises, "If it ain't broke, why fix it?"