Maxine Waters’ War on Consumers

By Ken Blackwell Published on March 6, 2019

Every day we are reminded that Democrats are on a war path to derail President Trump and his Administration’s efforts to undo the regulatory state. One top Democrat who is helping to spearhead this charge is House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif.

Tomorrow, Waters’ wrath against this Administration will likely be on full display as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger is scheduled to appear before Waters’ Committee. The Hearing is titled “Putting Consumers First: A Semi-Annual Review of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.” But I suspect we will see something much more sinister unfold.

Earlier this year, Waters made no secret that she is on a mission to undo then Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s efforts to return the CFPB back to an agency that fulfills its stated mission of protecting consumers and businesses.

On a television program earlier this year, Waters said of Mulvaney’s tenure:

“The last two years have been very dangerous. I have been appalled and surprised at how blatant it has been. This administration is not at all concerned about the welfare of the average family.”

This is an incredibly rich and false statement by a woman whose actions in this area tell a far different story.

Waters’ History With the CFPB

For Waters, it isn’t about protecting families. It’s about regaining control of an agency Democrats created to reward their political allies. The latest example of this can be found in the letter she recently sent to CFPB employees encouraging them to act as whistleblowers if they are a “witness to waste, fraud, abuse or gross mismanagement.”

The great irony here is that back in 2014, when Richard Cordray was the Bureau’s Director, Waters tried to table a hearing with a CFPB whistleblower who eventually testified about a toxic culture at the Bureau. “A pervasive culture of retaliation and intimidation that silences employees and chills the workforce,” as it was described.

This, however, isn’t the only time she’s tried to turn a blind eye to big problems.

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Back in 2013, the Obama Administration, under the auspices of rooting out fraud and abuse in the financial system, launched Operation Choke Point. The goal of this program was to cut off financial services to legitimate businesses, such as gun shops, that the Administration disliked. At a 2014 congressional hearing to examine this sinister plot, Waters said the hearing was “a little bit ridiculous and a waste of time.”

And, in response to the House passage of a bill in 2016 to shut down this program, she said the legislation’s supporters “‘will talk about guns, they will talk about Choke Point, they will talk about unfairness’ to small business owners, Waters said. ‘They will talk about everything except the real point of this legislation.’”

Despite her living in denial, a court filing in 2018 completely unmasked the true extent of this rogue operation, carried out at high levels in the Department of Justice, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the CFPB. All to punish small businesses that the Obama Administration saw as political enemies.

Payday Lending and Joseph Alcoff

On Thursday, Director Kraninger is expected to take a lot of fire from Waters and other Democratic regulation-loving Members of the Committee. One issue that is sure to come up is the CFPB’s current efforts to revise the harmful payday lending rule which has just been re-opened for comment.

The original rule, implemented by Cordray, would have negatively impacted many financially underserved Americans by cutting off their access to credit. There is ample evidence to suggest the rule was designed to be Cordray’s parting gift to his liberal “consumer advocate” friends. Even more disturbing, though, we have recently learned how this rule came about. And it is downright chilling.

As I recently discussed, it turns out that one of the individuals working closely with Cordray and congressional Democrats on the promulgation of the original rule was a violent Antifa leader recently charged for assaulting two Marines. An Antifa leader by night, Joseph Alcoff was a campaign manager by day for a liberal “consumer advocacy” group called Americans for Financial Reform. His work has been praised by and he has appeared with congressional Democrats, including Waters.

The Director the CFPB Needs

Kraninger is the able Director the CFPB so urgently needs to carry on Mulvaney’s work of ridding the Agency of waste, abuse and political agendas. While she will no doubt demonstrate that to the public, Waters will try her best to convince us otherwise.

Waters will put on a show and tout herself as a friend of consumers. Let us not be fooled. The reality is consumers are just pawns and victims in her crusade against the Trump Administration and its policies. We know because she has already called on CFPB employees to try and do her dirty work.

 

Ken Blackwell, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, is a member of the First Liberty Institute, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, and former Ohio Treasurer of State.

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