After this recess week, the Senate is expected to vote the week of March 5 on legislation that would lift some of the safeguards put in place after the financial crisis. House Republicans voted to gut the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law this past summer with legislation called the “Financial Choice Act.” Now, on the heels of a huge giveaway to the rich and corporations with the GOP Tax Scam, the Senate is back with its own version of Wall Street de-regulation in the form of the deceivingly-titled “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act” (S. 2155).
The Wall Street reform law requires that the country’s largest banks be subject to responsible oversight, to safeguard against another crisis that the collapse of a large bank could cause. This new bill would lift those standards for all banks smaller than $250 billion, which means two dozen of the country’s largest banks—that together received $47 billion in TARP “bailout” funds—would escape the oversight intended to prevent another financial crisis. These are banks as big as the toxic subprime lender Countrywide. It also means that banks that are currently failing government “stress tests”—periodic checks to ensure that they won’t blow up the economy—would no longer have to undergo the current tests.
This new law would also make it easier for racial discrimination in mortgage lending to go unchecked, and erode consumer protections. The vast majority of mortgage lenders would be exempted from new data collection requirements passed after the subprime crash that are intended to protect against systemic racial inequality in lending—leading to an information vacuum that will hurt communities of color. On top of that, a number of key consumer protections put in place by Dodd-Frank to protect everyday homebuyers (such as guaranteed protection from surprise insurance fees and predatory loan terms that are only presented at the time of closing) would be repealed or eroded by this bill.
At this time of record inequality, it is absurd to think that what we need is a “financial reform” bill that favors banks over people and increases risk in our financial system. All MoCs—including Democrats—should have to answer for why they support a bill that will benefit Deutsche Bank and Barclays at the expense of working families.
Sherrod Brown is leading the charge against these rollbacks, but as usual, Rob Portman says, “Full steam ahead!” Let’s call and thank Senator Brown, while reminding Senator Portman who he works for.
- Call Rob Portman at 202-224-3353
- Call Sherrod Brown at 202-224-2315
Portman: “Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [ADDRESS] about S. 2155, The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. It repeals important safeguards that were put in place after 2008 to protect our country from another financial crisis. I recognize that in some cases, it makes sense to have different standards for community banks and credit unions. But this bill isn’t just about helping community banks. In fact, some of the banks that escape federal regulation under this bill took BILLIONS in bailout money after the 2008 crisis, and are currently failing stress tests designed to prevent future failures. Will you commit to me that you will oppose S. 2155?”
Brown: “Hi, my name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [ADDRESS] about S. 2155, The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. It’s my understanding that Senator Brown is leading the charge against this bill, because it deregulates big banks that took BILLIONS in bailout money after the 2008 financial crisis. I just wanted to thank him for his leadership, and add my support for his actions. S. 2155 will open us up to unacceptable risk as huge banks would be allowed to avoid sensible checks on the behavior that nearly took down the economy just 10 years ago. Thanks, Sen. Brown!