OPINION

Column: Dodd-Frank repeal empowers Wall Street

Dan Kildee

In Michigan, sadly you don’t have to drive far to see the lasting effects of the 2008 financial crisis. The Great Recession hit our state especially hard — hundreds of thousands of Michiganders lost their jobs, were evicted from their homes, or saw their retirement savings wiped out.

While the national unemployment rate has gone down since then, in Michigan too many families are still hurting and living with the negative effects of the financial crisis. Many Michigan families’ homes are still worth less than before the recession. And according to the latest U.S. census data, Michiganders today own fewer cars, earn less money, and work fewer hours than before the financial crisis.

As families are still recovering, it is important to remember one of the main causes of the financial crisis in the first place: Wall Street executives engaged in risky practices while ignoring key warning signs, bringing our economy to the brink of collapse. It was these failures that demonstrated the need for reforms to ensure that big banks were not able to hurt our nation’s economy again. That is why Congress passed much needed Wall Street reforms in 2009, commonly referred to as the Dodd-Frank Act.

Unfortunately, Congress has started to roll back these Wall Street reforms. Repealing Dodd-Frank is the wrong choice for main street and Michigan families. In repealing the laws that seek to prevent another financial crisis, President Trump and Republicans in Congress are trying to put Wall Street back in charge.

After the financial crisis, American consumers needed a watchdog on their side. Big banks got billions in bailouts, but there was no one looking out for the interests of middle class families.

That changed under Dodd-Frank, which for the first time created a regulator working solely on behalf of middle class consumers: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Consumer Bureau’s sole objective is to make sure middle class families are protected from predatory and greedy actors. It works to stop unfair, deceptive and abusive practices by financial institutions — so far, the Consumer Bureau has recovered nearly $12 billion in relief for 29 million American consumers.

In Michigan alone, nearly 4,000 complaints were submitted to the Consumer Bureau in 2014. The Consumer Bureau follows up on these complaints to guard against discriminatory or unfair practices when it comes to your mortgage, student loans, credit card or bank account.

The Consumer Bureau has been remarkably successful — that’s why it’s the wrong choice to get rid of it, as the Republicans’ repeal bill does.

Middle class families stand to lose the most if Wall Street reforms are repealed. In addition to eliminating the Consumer Bureau, the Republicans want to gut the many important protections set up to prevent another financial crisis. Under the Republican plan, big banks would once again be free to make the same risky trades that caused the 2008 financial crisis. The Republican plan also eliminates transparency rules and protections making financial institutions less accountable to you.

We cannot forget the lessons of the financial crisis that caused so much economic pain for Michigan families. Putting Wall Street back in charge of regulating itself puts our economy at risk and is simply the wrong direction for our country.

Rep. Dan Kildee represents Michigan’s 5th Congressional district.