Maybe it’s time to stash your savings under your mattress
Wall Street protest. | Craig Ruttle/AP

Maybe it’s time to stash your savings, including your paycheck, in cash under your mattress. The way the Republican-run Congress is careening towards setting the banks and Wall Street loose to prey upon us again, the gelt might be safer with you at home.

That’s because the House GOP, on a party-line vote, jammed through the so-called “Choice Act” on June 8, the same day the Senate Banking Committee began hearings on the same goal. To say the “Choice Act” doesn’t protect us is an understatement.

Choice Act supporters, led by right wing House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, claim it will free up banks to lend more money while at the same time abolishing protections against government rescue of “too big to fail” institutions – the prime problem with the 2008 bank bailout after the Great Recession hit.

Conveniently left unsaid: Financial institutions and their finaglers and fraud brought us the Great Recession, and robbed us of millions of jobs, foreclosed on our houses and turned our promised pensions into worthless pieces of paper.

The Choice Act opens the door to the same shenanigans – and at the same time, yanks the shield the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau now provides, by rendering it toothless. Never mind that the CFPB has already won $12 billion back for consumers from fraudsters.

“Gutting Wall Street reform will be a historic giveaway to special interests,” Rep. Louise Slaughter, top Democrat on the House panel, told her colleagues. “The Wall Street firms who plunged our country to the brink in 2008 would be free once again to take advantage of consumers and force middle class families to go it alone, without the protections” Congress put in place after the crash. “The Choice Act is the wrong choice for consumers and families.”

“This is a bill to handcuff the cop on Wall Street,” added Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas. So many of our Republican colleagues are eager to shield Wall Street from action and eventually to bestow one tax break after another on Wall Street…

“As a person who voted against all the big bank bailouts, I am most concerned this bill will produce only more. When the banks were bailed out, American families paid the price, as taxpayers. They paid the price for the recklessness that led to that unnecessary financial crisis.

“A more immediate concern is what happens to the cop on the beat, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new law enforcement agency the AARP described as one designed to hold scam artists accountable. That is exactly what the CFPB has done.

“Whether it is payday lenders or deceitful language in the fine print of financial agreements, reverse mortgages, contracts denying consumers their legal remedies to address wrongdoing, or many other issues, this agency has been there to protect the consumers.”

The Choice Act guts the CFPB, Doggett said. It kills the agency, Slaughter adds. And consumers are left with no protection again. Which is why we say that if Congress approves the Choice Act, and GOP President Donald Trump signs it, it may be safer to stash your money under your mattress. Because if it’s there, the banks can’t rob you of it.


CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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