Jerry Waters, Contributor
In another blatant and shameless move to screw over consumers so that Wall Street can get away fraud without fear of meaningful punishment, the Republican-led Congress just passed a bill that would make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for customers to sue banks without going through mandatory third-party arbitration.
The problem is that the people doing the arbitration are hired by Wall Street. Not exactly a disinterested “third-party”, are they? The other big problem is that these arbitration proceedings are done in secret and that they don’t have to follow the same procedures as a court of law.
This egregious legislation comes right after Wells Fargo Bank was caught red-handed signing up thousands of their customers for banking products without their knowledge. It comes on the heels of Equifax negligently allowing their customer’s data to be hacked and dragging their feet in notifying them and fixing the problem.
Also, this comes at a time when the Trump administration is doing everything it can to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) because it wants less regulations for banks and Wall Street. Republicans have this bizarre philosophy that it’s ok to screw people over if it’s buried somewhere in the fine print. They really believe that banks should be able to take huge risks with your money and that if things don’t pan out, you shouldn’t complain and you certainly shouldn’t try to hold financial institutions responsible. You know, buyer beware. Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the last push toward deregulation lead right into the collapse of the housing market and into The Great Recession?
The CFPB rule would stopped banks from forcing customers to sign mandatory arbitration agreements and it would allow them to join together in class-action suits and file other types of legal challenges. Ironically, even if consumers had the ability to sue banks for fraud and other malfeasance, the banks still have a monumental advantage because they have armies of well-paid attorneys to defend them.
Of course, Republicans argued that the price of credit cards and banking would go up and that consumers would suffer if they had the ability to sue banks for their fraudulent practices. Republicans don’t want to talk about how banks routinely screw people out of money and get away with it. They don’t want to talk about how fines are usually a mere slap on the wrist or how blatant criminal activity by top executives is either ignored or rewarded with a giant gold parachute. Republicans really don’t want to talk about the crazy amount of cash they receive as campaign contributions from Wall Street.
Trump and his rich cronies hate the CFPB and they will continue to do everything they can dilute consumer protections in the market. When Richard Cordray, head of the CFPB, remarked, “Wall Street won and ordinary people lost.”, he was met with an unusually rude response from Sen. Tom Cotton who replied, ““The unelected Mr. Cordray issued yet another stupid regulation that would have hurt consumers, the people’s democratically elected representatives voted to stop the regulation, and now Mr. Cordray whines that Congress stopped his stupid regulation. It’s well past time for Mr. Cordray to resign and begin his long-expected losing campaign for Governor of Ohio. If he won’t, President Trump should fire him.” Yeah, it’s not too hard to figure out who Cotton is in bed with, is it?
Folks, this is just the beginning of Trump’s many gifts to the wealthy. As he continues his insane push for more deregulation, more people are going to be hurt and more consumers are going to get screwed.
You’re about to get trumped right in the….