Some high drama is taking place at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) today – and millions of American consumers are caught in the crosshairs. On Friday, the director of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, stepped down and named Chief of Staff Leandra English to be the deputy director, putting her next in line for succession. But Trump decided to insert himself into the situation, leading to a chain of events that has resulted in two people claiming the title as acting director of the CFPB. Trump picked Mick Mulvaney to lead the organization as an attempt to disrupt consumer protections, and Mulvaney showed up this morning for work. But, English has filed a suit arguing that this appointment is illegal, and she is the acting director instead of Mulvaney. English’s lawyer argues this situation is “unprecedented” and has decried Trump’s “attempt to install a White House official at the head of independent agency—while allowing that officer to simultaneously serve in the White House.”
So why is this such a big deal? Since its inception six years ago, the CFPB has become a critical financial watchdog for American consumers. In fact, it has returned $12 billion to 29 million Americans who have been the victims of financial wrongdoing by big banks and other corporations. The CFPB is one of the strongest protectors of student borrowers, and in 2016 alone, it returned $750 million to students who were cheated. Additionally, the CFPB fights for veterans, returning $130 million to veterans and their families defrauded by predatory lenders. And it fights against discrimination in lending, returning over $450 million to about 1 million borrowers of color who were overcharged or excluded from certain financial products.
Mulvaney, Trump’s pick to lead the agency, has a track record of ignoring the CFPB, even calling it a “sad, sick joke.” His appointment as the acting head of the CFPB would cause doubt as to whether financial regulators are truly independent and looking out for the American people. This isn’t the first time Trump has chosen people to lead agencies that they have actively fought to undermine throughout their careers. Just look at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Mulvaney at the head of the CFPB is another opportunity for Trump to let powerful financial institutions take advantage of American workers.
ACTION OF THE DAY
#GOPTaxScam. This week, the Senate plans to vote on a tax bill that raises taxes, increases health premiums, and causes 13 million Americans to lose health coverage. These tax hikes and health care cuts will be used to finance tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations. We’ve identified the nine key senators who will cast deciding votes on this scam. Call them or tweet at them today using TrumpTaxToolkit.org!
Defend #NetNeutrality. Last week the Trump Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed a plan that would roll back protections and allow internet service providers—like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T—to block, prioritize, and speed or slow down access to specific sites and content. This will be more than just a boon for some of America’s largest firms, but may even stifle speech and online communities the public has come to rely on. The FCC is scheduled to vote on this proposed change on December 14th. Over 22 million comments were filed with the agency regarding this change with a large majority asking the FCC not to dismantle net neutrality. Email and tweet at each FCC member asking them to defend net neutrality. Learn more about what you can do at BattleForTheNet.com.
Quitting Time. Yesterday, senior Democratic Congressman John Conyers announced he will be stepping down from his leadership post on the House Judiciary Committee after multiple sexual harassment charges. Conyers is part of a growing list of well-known politicians, media personalities, and celebrities accused of sexual harassment, but this a is a widespread problem across industries and most often occurs out of the spotlight. According to a recent analysis, more than 25 percent of sexual harassment charges were filed in low wage jobs and the service sector industry.
First Amendment Under Attack. Last week, Trump tweeted that he had passed on the opportunity to be Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. A few hours later, Time tweeted that the President’s claim was “incorrect.” This isn’t the first year Trump has tweeted about Time’s choice of Person of the Year. He has expressed anger at the magazine for not choosing him several years, including 2012 and 2015. Although this could be simply chalked up to another example of Trump’s ego, it also represents another line of attack on the freedom of the press—and thus, the First Amendment. In his first tweet after Thanksgiving, Trump tweeted about the “fake news,” specifically calling out CNN and praising Fox News. In February, he declared the media “the enemy of the American people.” These attacks come as Trump’s Justice Department sues AT&T to stop its’ attempt to buy Time Warner. And Time itself risks further damage, as it was just announced that it has been bought by a Koch-backed corporation, known “for advancing conservative causes.”
More Than Taxes. The GOP tax plan wouldn’t just give massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations while raising taxes on millions of middle-class families. It’s also the GOP’s latest attack on reproductive rights. Ilyse Hogue, President of Naral Pro-Choice America, joins the latest episode of Off-Kilter to unpack a provision buried in the bill that would give fetuses legal status as people. Listen here!
UNDER THE RADAR
Congressional To-Do List. If Congress really cared about helping working class families, here’s what they would be determined to accomplish before the end of the year.
1. Pass a spending bill to avoid a federal government shutdown.
2. Approve additional funding for disaster relief in the wake of this fall’s series of major hurricanes and wildfires that struck several states in the West.
3. A fix to President Trump’s manufactured immigration crisis now that he ended DACA.
4. Reauthorize the law that governs federal intelligence agencies.
5. Renew the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a program that’s running out of funding and helps millions of low-income children and pregnant women.