The U.S. Chamber’s War Against Increased Consumer Financial Protection

Earlier this summer, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce mounted a significant six-figure advertising campaign against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and its new director, Rohit Chopra, accusing him of attempting to “radically reshape ” financial regulation without proper jurisdiction. The Chamber specifically targets the agency’s recent March move to use its authority to better combat unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices in the financial space, rightfully increasing the agency’s anti-discrimination efforts. By updating the manual examiners use to guide their supervision to include more rigorous review of policies or practices that exclude individuals from products or services, the new CFPB put in place much needed reforms to the oversight process. Put clearly, the CFPB stated in its press release announcing the change “when a person is denied access to a bank account because of their religion or race, this is unambiguously unfair.”

So, with that said, we at Chamber Watch have a question for the Chamber: why is it “radical” to utilize existing federal law to regulate financial institutions for the benefit of American consumers?

After all, the law gives our nation’s agencies broad powers to rein in corporate abuses, and it’s about time agencies like the CFPB utilize the full extent of their oversight powers to protect Americans from harm. As precisely they should, advocates and officials at the CFPB did not take this recent attack lightly, coming out in full force stating that “we remain focused on ensuring fair, transparent, and competitive markets for American consumers and honest businesses who play by the rules.” That’s what we like to hear from our country’s consumer watchdogs!

Of course, it’s not totally surprising that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce would balk at Chopra’s so far much more vigorous actions to regulate the financial market, given that so many of the U.S. Chamber’s members have been caught red handed engaging in misconduct on countless occasions. In fact, according to a recent Public Citizen report, Chamber members have paid more than 154 billion dollars in penalties since the year 2000.

As it works to stymie more robust financial protections for our nation’s consumers, polling shows that the U.S. Chamber is also going directly against the popular wishes of the American public across the political spectrum.

Public Citizen and Chamber Watch believe that unfair practices have no place in our financial markets and fully support actions of the CFPB and its new Director Rohit Chopra to better rein in corporate abuses. The U.S. Chamber is one of the last organizations we should be listening to when it comes to the parameters of effective corporate oversight. At a time when Americans are greatly concerned about rising prices, the Chamber’s member companies need to realize that by continuing to donate to the trade association, they are on the wrong side of history when it comes to protecting consumer’s’ pocketbooks.