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Editor’s note: Last week our political columnists shared what they think are the best things Trump accomplished this year for our money, and they agreed. This week, they share different ideas about the worst.
Donald Trump is bragging about his legislative record this year — which is silly. He’s not a legislator, isn’t shaping legislation or driving the process, has signed the fewest bills of any modern president a year into their first term, and many of them were silly things like naming post offices anyway. Legislatively, his big impact is the tax bill. That’s it.
But when it comes to executive orders and regulatory changes, he’s done a lot more across many areas of the federal government, including the Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that affect you. Yes, it’s stuff the next president can turn around and undo just as quickly — but while Trump’s in charge, people are going to suffer financially.
The CFPB changes are the worst, and it’s not just because of the Jekyll and Hide situation Trump has created.
Who’s in charge?
Until a couple months ago, the CFPB had only ever had one leader: Richard Cordray. Now it’s had three, and is likely to get a fourth after a big court battle.
When Cordray resigned, he designated his deputy Leandra English the new boss. Trump, eager to fundamentally undermine the agency the same way he did with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Education Department, named his budget chief Mick Mulvaney interim director. (So now Mulvaney’s supposed to do two jobs, neither of which he is any good at.)
Needless to say, it’s pretty awkward to work in a place where two people show up claiming to be your boss and tell you to do opposite things. But it’s much more awkward to be in the industry the CFPB has oversight over. If there’s one thing Wall Street hates above all else, it’s uncertainty. Without a sense of which regulations are likely to stay in place, come into effect, or be added in the coming year or two, many banks may be reluctant to do much of anything different.
English is suing for the right to the job, but until the legal process plays out, a federal judge has said Mulvaney is in charge. While banks are likely to be conservative about making changes, they probably lean toward believing the higher-ups will agree that Mulvaney has authority to lead. And the sooner Trump nominates a permanent replacement, the more comfortable they will become shifting policy in ways that benefit them more than consumers.
So, in the short term expect nothing to get better, and in the medium term, expect things to get back to business as usual. The long term is up to voters.
What may come undone
Already it’s clear Congress would like to undo many of the CFPB’s regulatory efforts over the past few years. They already ripped up the CFPB’s ruling that allowed consumers to sue banks, and they want to overturn the CFPB’s new payday lending rules which are designed to prevent consumers from getting stuck in a cycle of high-interest debt.
The CFPB’s oversight has saved and recovered nearly $12 billion dollars for 29 million consumers, many of whom were ripped off by illegal and deceptive fees from their banks and creditors. It’s certainly not pocket change for big banks, but it could be life-saving for the poor — the people who knows the least about managing money and are targeted most often.
The CFPB has handled more than a million individual consumer complaints, and helped reshape policy on mortgages, prepaid cards, credit reports, and more to make things fairer and clearer for consumers. It’s been a model of government actually listening to problems and working for people — and I would argue that’s because it’s new and has remained untainted by politics. Until now.
Under Trump, we’re likely to see financial products become more complex, less safe, and more expensive in lots of little ways that add up over time. From banking to credit cards to student loans, we’ve had someone in our corner for the past seven years, tipping the scales back in our favor against massively wealthy special interests. Fighting fees and jargon and drawn-out complaint resolutions.
Now, we don’t. And that’s the worst thing Trump has done yet.
Article last modified on December 28, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: The Most Damaging Thing Trump Did to Our Money in 2017 - AMP.
Article last modified on December 28, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .