Happy Birthday CFPB: Protecting American Consumers Against Wall Street

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the law that created the only financial regulatory agency with a mandate to put the interests of consumers first. Since it opened its doors in July 2011, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has begun to bring badly needed rules of fair play to mortgages, debit cards and other areas of the financial marketplace, while delivering some $10.1 billion in refunds and restitution to more than 14 million consumers cheated by financial companies big and small.

Now the Bureau has taken the first steps toward issuing rules that could end abuses in payday, car-title, and other high-cost, debt-trap consumer loans – loans that have had devastating effects on countless Wisconsin families. Unfortunately for the citizens of Idaho, however, Senator Crapo appears to be lining up with the payday lenders and the big banks in their ceaseless efforts to block regulation and undermine the Consumer Bureau’s effectiveness.

Senator Crapo has voted for bills and amendments designed to curtail the CFPB’s funding and authority and roll back financial reform. In addition, he ranks among the top thirty House recipients of payday-industry campaign contributions, with $37,500 coming in during the last election cycle.

A new survey confirms once again that most voters – including majorities of Democrats, Independents and Republicans – believe there should be more, not less, government oversight of financial companies. Nearly nine out of ten voters say that small-dollar lenders should have to make sure a loan is affordable in light of a customer’s income and expenses. Continue reading

Rigged to Fail

Report Card: Idaho Policies are Failing Working Families

Raising the wage and protecting child support are critical steps in helping workers move from barely surviving to thriving.

BOISE — A healthy, thriving environment that allows workers to move beyond living paycheck-to-paycheck is good for families, good for business, good for the community, and good for the economy.

Unfortunately, in Idaho, state policies too often seem rigged against workers and their families, preventing people from getting ahead no matter how hard they struggle. Low wages, a lack of good-paying jobs, inequitable tax systems, sky-rocketing education costs and debilitating debt especially impact low-income families.

A new report card, “Rigged to Fail: When state policies suppress workers’ ability to make ends meet,” released today by Idaho Community Action Network, gives Idaho an “F” when it comes to passing policies that help workers and their families get ahead. Here is a copy of the report.

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Stopping the Debt Trap: A National Solution

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) held a field hearing to share their recommendations for stopping the predatory lending debt trap. The recommendations could create strong consumer protections for payday loans, vehicle title loans, deposit advance products and certain high-cost installment and open-end loans.

Idaho Community Action Network, which has actively lobbied for policy restrictions on the industry like a cap on interest rates, believes this proposal is a significant step in the right direction and will directly benefit Idaho communities. The emergence of national solutions that address the debt trap and wealth stripping plaguing our families and communities across the nation is a significant development in the movement for consumer protection.

This proposal takes a major step toward protecting families and their hard-earned money. For Idaho, these national solutions can alleviate the struggle for families who, frankly, have enough to deal with in a state with low wages and restrictive access to health care. Considering that each year around $64 million is being stripped from Idaho’s local economies, families don’t have more to give. It’s like squeezing blood from a turnip.

With more storefronts than Starbucks, the small dollar loan industry has shown blatant disregard for common sense practices, including basic affordability underwriting. Continue reading