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Color of Money: We must all fight to defend a key watchdog for financial fairness

Michelle Singletary on

-- Businesses can't make enough money off consumers. Already Mulvaney has issued a 30-day freeze on new regulations. His reason: To make sure there isn't a "choking off" of financial services.

Think about this for a minute. Not even a week into the job and Mulvaney is putting the interests of corporations ahead of consumers.

We are already a nation of debtors. That's part of the reason we fell into a recession. Everybody and their mama could get a loan.

Some argue that Mama should get the loan she wants. It's her choice. Except we all pay when people are saddled with debt they can't afford. Surely you haven't forgotten the Wall Street bailout?

-- Congress can't control the agency's budget. The CFPB funding comes from the Federal Reserve, and it was set up that way to purposefully avoid partisan meddling and influence peddling by the financial industry, which the agency is charged to police.

The crusade against the CFPB has become so clever that I get emails like this one from a reader: "If I understand correctly, you are advocating for Uncle Sam to tell a grown woman what she can or cannot buy with her own money? If the lender is truthful and the woman is of sound mind, the government needs to stay quiet."

There was no question about that "if." Some companies weren't and aren't truthful. It was state and federal oversight that finally caught Wells Fargo, which was found to have opened millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts.

The CFPB isn't telling people what they can do with their money. It's simply making sure that companies clearly disclose information that people need to make better financial decisions.

 

Partisan politics aside, please remember why the agency came about. It was part of the Dodd-Frank Act and was directed to look at the rules governing credit cards, mortgages, student loans and other financial products aimed at consumers. We needed a superhero to put us back on track.

In a tweet on Monday, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights wrote, "If the 2008 financial crisis showed us anything, it's that consumers need and deserve a strong and independent regulator to look after the interests of American consumers. #DefendCFPB"

Take to Twitter, the forum we know Trump values. Use the #DefendCFPB hashtag and let your voice to be heard. If you don't speak up in defense of this agency, you will lose an important watchdog for financial fairness.

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Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is michelle.singletary@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary). Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

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