Rep. Gregory Meeks. (Photo: David Lutman/ Getty)
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial meltdown, the Democratic-controlled Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which put in place measures to prevent another economic near-catastrophe. A key provision in the bill is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which would promote financial literacy and enforce federal consumer protection laws to end abusive financial practices and products, such as subprime loans.
One of the first things House Republicans did when they regained power was pass a bill repealing Dodd-Frank. Now, 44 Republican Senators are threatening to hold up the nomination of Elizabeth Warren, who’s been tapped to head the bureau, unless some changes are made that would essentially weaken it.
Consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers are outraged. According to Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-New York) and others, the consumer protection bureau is vitally important to African-Americans and other minorities who were the primary victims of sub-prime lending and the ensuing disproportionate foreclosure rate.
He also is angered by Republican efforts to eliminate funding for the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP) and to implement a measure that would require homeowners to make a minimum 20 percent down payment on mortgage loans, making homeownership out of reach for a significant number of African-Americans.
“The number one way to create wealth in African-American communities has been through homeownership,” he said. “If there are zero dollars to try to make sure that we right the wrong because of all the things that took place by eliminating or not improving HAMP, then we’re looking at a substantial amount of wealth taken out of the African-American community with no way to regain it."
Maxine Waters (D-California) calls Republican efforts to dismantle the bill “brazen” and she wonders how they have the nerve to side with the financial industry over the American public, which is still recovering from the industry’s actions.
“Some people think they’re raising money with the interested parties that they’re protecting. Every time they show them that they’re protecting their interests and they’re going to stop the bills, they’re able to get support and donations,” she said. “I don’t know why they’re not afraid of the voters. It puzzles that they can attempt to dismantle Dodd-Frank after having gone through the financial crisis that we’ve gone through in this country. How they have the nerve to do it is just puzzling to me. I don’t know how they get away with it.”