The director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathleen Kraninger, today announced the agency will strip out the core of a rule written and finalized under previous leadership that would shield consumers from debt trap payday and car-title loans. The decision will leave millions of people vulnerable to grave financial abuses at a time of economic crisis, and will harm people of color who are suffering higher rates of illness and of unemployment, and whom this industry targeted even before the pandemic.
[T]he process of rolling back the mandatory underwriting requirement provisions of the 2017 small-dollar lending rule was, at best, highly improper. We urge you to suspend the finalization of the rule pending a full investigation of the facts. There is a strong case to be made that the CFPB needs to restart the regulatory process entirely.
In The News: Trump Appointees Manipulated Agency’s Payday Lending Research, Ex-Staffer Claims (The New York Times)
Linda Jun, a senior policy counsel for Americans for Financial Reform, a consumer advocacy group: “To this day, despite many people asking, they haven’t provided anything about the basis for changing this rule beyond some vague references to new research. It’s hard to see the reversal as anything other than political.”
Kathleen Kraninger, the current director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told an audience of bankers at a November 2019 industry gathering that “you are really helping drive the agenda.” Unfortunately for the public and for consumer financial protection, the Kraninger agenda and the Wall Street lobby’s agenda are indeed all too similar. Since the Senate confirmed Kraninger on a party-line vote, she has steered the CFPB in an anti-consumer direction, making it easier for Wall Street and predatory lenders to rip people off and to discriminate against people of color.
Consumer advocates and academics criticized the policy, saying the agency was effectively tying its own hands. “It seems that the agency is trying to highly constrict the use of ‘abusive’ by using terms that do not fully capture the way lenders behave,” said Linda Jun, an attorney at the advocacy Americans for Financial Reform.
As Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, put it, last year, the CFPB “was constructed really deliberately to protect ordinary people,” and the Trump administration has “taken it apart — dismantled it, piece by piece, brick by brick.” I [Leandra English] am honored to join DFS Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell’s team to ensure that as Washington retreats, New York continues to lead.
“The CFPB is dropping the ball on enforcing and drafting federal rules to actually protect the public from rip offs and discrimination in lending,” said Linda Jun, senior policy counsel at Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund. “Creating and hiring a new task force stacked with industry representatives and ideological opponents of regulation is one more move that runs directly counter to the CFPB’s basic mission.”
In The News: This was supposed to be the decade of tougher consumer protections. That didn’t happen. (CNBC)
“The biggest concerns that we see with the CFPB today is they are holding the hands of the payday lenders,” said Linda Jun, senior policy counsel at Americans for Financial Reform. “That means that the debt trap will continue and people will continue to lose their cars and their bank accounts as a result of the continued destruction of payday loans.”
Kraninger is wildly unqualified to lead the CFPB: Before her confirmation, she had no experience in consumer protection or financial regulation. Civil rights groups and Wall Street watchdogs [AFR letter linked] uniformly opposed her, while the financial industry supported her—perceiving correctly that she would be, at best, a do-nothing director.
“An effective consumer financial protection agency saves families billions of dollars a year, and makes their economic lives more secure. It fights lending discrimination, and shuts down tricks and traps” said Lisa Donner, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform. “Unfortunately, the evidence keeps piling up that the current leadership at the agency is focused on rolling back protections and enabling bad financial actors to rip people off. It is so important that members of Congress continue pressing the CFPB to live up to its consumer protection mandate and fulfill its basic responsibilities, as the House has in passing the Consumers First Act today.”