Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, derided Republicans’ reckless plan to repeal Wall Street Reform during Committee consideration of H.R. 5983.
In her opening statement, Waters noted that “nearly all the rules we enacted to make banks safer and stronger would be repealed, and replaced by a phony choose-your-own regulatory regime that puts the banks in the driver’s seat.”
She added that, considering the massive fraud scheme that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau uncovered just last week at Wells Fargo, this legislation is “tearing the Bureau down” rather than enabling its important work.
“Let us be clear about who would benefit from the Republicans’ ‘Wrong Choice,” Waters said. “Wall Street and other special interests who have been fighting against financial reform since before it was enacted.”
The full text of Waters’ opening statement, as prepared for delivery, is as follows:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am disappointed that we are here considering a highly partisan, damaging piece of legislation to kill Dodd-Frank and harm consumers. And I am especially disappointed that we’re here today given that so much pressing work remains undone – reauthorization of the flood insurance program, homelessness, and changes to our broken credit reporting system.
What’s more, just last week, we saw that more than 2 million fraudulent accounts were opened by Wells Fargo – enough for every resident of the State of New Mexico – and yet our Chairman has uttered nothing about this major scandal. One executive directly responsible for this fraud walked away with a 125 million dollar “golden parachute.” And while the Senate Banking Committee has moved quickly to schedule a hearing, we have nothing planned on this. In fact, we sit here today with legislation that makes it even easier for executives to escape accountability to their shareholders.
Indeed, we are debating legislation that takes us back to the summer of 2008. Mr. Chairman, eight years ago doesn’t feel so long ago to most Americans. Americans remember all too well the horrors of the financial crisis:
It left about ten million individuals displaced – more than the entire population of Michigan. And it totally uprooted families from places they’ve long considered home, as individuals moved in greater numbers than during the Dust Bowl or the Great Migration.
It stripped people of their life savings and put their jobs on the chopping block. Research shows that young people who graduated during the financial crisis will see lower earnings for the rest of their lifetimes.
And it exacerbated an already unacceptably high wealth gap for African-Americans and Hispanic Americans.
In response to this devastation, the Dodd-Frank Act made sweeping changes to our financial regulatory system so that our economy would never again be threatened by special interests.
Yet, here we are, pretending that the crisis never happened, and considering toxic legislation that takes us in exactly the wrong direction. Let us be clear about who would benefit from the Republicans' “Wrong Choice”: Wall Street and other special interests who have been fighting against financial reform since before it was enacted. The regulatory roll-backs in this bill know no bounds.
Nearly all the rules we enacted to make banks safer and stronger would be repealed, and replaced by a phony choose-your-own regulatory regime that puts the banks in the driver’s seat. Our largest financial firms would no longer need to file “living wills” to explain how they could be unwound safely. And the shadow banking industry would escape oversight and retreat back into the darkness, with the effective repeal of the Financial Stability Oversight Council. This is all the more outrageous because crisis-era executives at A.I.G., the shadow banking giant, are on trial this week for manufacturing fraudulent reinsurance transactions in order to cook the company’s books.
Even worse, this legislation proudly says to consumers, “you’re on your own.” If you want to fight a trillion dollar bank over fraudulent charges or bogus accounts, good luck going up against a powerful institution with millions to spend on lawyers. We need to look no further than just last week to see why we need a strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which used its authorities under Dodd-Frank to uncover a massive scheme under which millions of consumer accounts at Wells Fargo were fraudulently opened, with the bulk of this fraud perpetrated in my hometown of Los Angeles. But rather than enabling the CFPB’s important work, we’re here today tearing the Bureau down.
The bad doesn’t stop there. The bill would all but prevent the Securities and Exchange Commission from ever bringing enforcement cases against bad actors. It continues Republicans’ assault by subjecting all of our independent financial regulators to the Republicans’ dysfunctional appropriations process. And, it would whittle away at the independence of the Federal Reserve by meddling in interest rate policy.
Further, despite repeated failed attempts by the Majority to repeal the Labor Department’s fiduciary duty rule that will protect our seniors from conflicted retirement advice, this bill doubles down and not only would repeal the rule, but effectively prevent the SEC from moving forward on its own similar rules.
So Mr. Chairman, I stand with all Democrats on this Committee and strongly oppose this bill, which is the Wrong Choice for America.