A Letter from Rich Dubois, Executive Director, NCLC

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NCLC supporters and allies –

A bit of good news during a generally troubling time: the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled yesterday that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is constitutional, in a landmark victory for the CFPB and a serious blow to President Trump’s efforts to undermine the agency. NCLC joined an amicus brief in support of the Consumer Bureau, and we are very pleased by the outcome of this case.

But make no mistake: the Consumer Bureau still faces a threat to its very existence as a strong and independent champion for consumers, through the ongoing and unrelenting efforts by enemies in Congress, the Trump Administration and Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney to turn the agency from one successfully protecting American consumers into one that instead protects banks, financial services companies, abusive debt collectors and predatory lenders.

Mick Mulvaney (unlawfully appointed by President Trump as acting director) has acted quickly to reverse as much of the successful work of the Consumer Bureau as possible and to hamstring the agency into the future. Under Mulvaney, the bureau announced its intention to delay and “revisit” a new and important rule addressing abuses by payday lenders – who contributed to Mulvaney’s congressional campaigns. It has dropped a lawsuit against online payday lenders that made illegal loans with interest rates as high as 950 percent. It dropped an investigation into a lender (another Mulvaney contributor) that was the subject of a ProPublica series documenting questionable lending practices. The signals that Mulvany is sending are unmistakable.

But you don’t have to be an expert at reading between the lines to understand the magnitude of these threats. Shockingly, a new mission statement posted on the Consumer Bureau’s website actually identifies the “addressing” of “outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations” as the first part of the core mission of the bureau. And Mulvaney has initiated a plan to revisit all of the Consumer Bureau’s policies, priorities, and procedures, and indicated that he will ask the financial services industry how it would prefer to be regulated, an obvious precursor to dramatically scaling back the enforcement of consumer protection laws.

It is crystal clear that a wide range of consumer rights – perhaps ultimately all core consumer rights — are at risk.

I want to let you know that NCLC is going to continue fighting tooth-and-nail, regulation by regulation, to preserve a strong and independent consumer watchdog and to protect the pro-consumer accomplishments of the Cordray era.

NCLC is waging a multi-faceted, integrated advocacy campaign to defend consumer rights. Working in close coordination with a broad network of national, state and local organizations and allies, we are enhancing our strategic communications efforts; building, strengthening and highlighting bipartisan support for consumer protection; and expanding our advocacy for consumers at the state level, where pro-consumer progress is currently more feasible and defensive work is also critical.

Even in these dark days, we’re making a difference. Earlier this month, the House Financial Services Committee was scheduled to vote on whether to open the floodgates to abusive litigation conduct by debt collection attorneys and debt buyers who work in their name. NCLC attorney Margot Saunders and our ally Bart Stichman of the National Veterans Legal Services Program wrote a powerful op-ed laying out the many problems with the bill, and why it was so harmful to consumers. We also worked with allies in Texas and a law professor who published an op-ed that ran in the sponsor’s district the day before the hearing took place. The result? The anti-consumer bill was dropped from the committee’s agenda at the last minute. We may well see it again – but we’ll continue to be prepared to fight it as long as necessary.

NCLC’s expertise is more critical than ever in this suddenly changed environment. And your support of our work is more critical than ever, too. If you haven’t yet made an additional gift in this extraordinary time, I hope you’ll make a gift to support NCLC’s Consumer Rights Defense Fund today.

We’ve been through tough times before, and managed to protect consumers and set the stage for future victories even in the most challenging periods. We may not win every battle, but I’m confident that we’ll win the long-term fight by standing together – and by being right.

Thank you for your past, present and future support,

duboissign
dubois

Rich Dubois
Executive Director
National Consumer Law Center

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