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A Woman to Blame

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The Extremely Online movement to blame Elizabeth Warren for Bernie not being the Democratic nominee is deeply pathetic on every level. But ACTUALLY the CFPB was a worthless institution stacked with corporate hacks is really taking things to a new level:

This is abject nonsense, of course, as this article explains in detail:

The best way to begin to understand what the CFPB does, or did, is to take some time and browse through the agency’s website. Have a look at its list of enforcement actions, most of which never make the front pages. Look into the facts of the cases and see what we’re actually talking about here.

[…]

This is just a sample from the CFPB’s record of enforcement actions. But enforcement through lawsuits is only part of what the agency does. Another major component is “supervision”: day-to-day oversight of companies that offer financial products to make sure they are following acceptable practices that serve the interests of their customers. I doubt that the CFPB’s quarterly Supervisory Highlights report is one of America’s most popular coffee-table periodicals. But have a browse through the archives. It is not the most thrilling read, but you’ll find dozens of explanations of how the agency is making sure lenders and servicers do various things like: eliminate erroneous accounting, approve all valid applications, serve non-English speaking customers, eliminate unlawful redlining practices, ensure that no false representations are made to customers, make sure that repossessed property is properly returned when borrowers have paid, eliminate hidden and unlawful “convenience” fees, handle disputes adequately, collect data properly, and make timely disclosures. (I’m just drawing from a single Highlights report.) Enforcement actions may have provided significant relief for consumers when harms have been done, but ongoing CFPB supervision ensures that plenty of harms never end up occurring in the first place. (Alas, this makes the benefits of their work more difficult for ordinary people to see.)

Here’s another incredibly important piece of the CFPB’s work: the Consumer Complaint Database, which has dealt with nearly 1 million individual complaints from customers about their treatment by financial services providers. When the CFPB gets a complaint, it contacts the company and tries to get a resolution: according to the agency, 97% of companies provide timely responses once contacted by the bureau. Just have a read through some of the consumer narratives in the database. Some of them are heartbreaking: people who are ill, confused, and desperate, but are being pursued by agencies over charges they don’t understand, being given the runaround by call center operators and being sent billing statements that are never explained. You can see, in the database, a window into the reality of ordinary people’s financial lives in America: constant bills, constant paperwork, constant dealing on the phone with people who can’t tell you anything about your account and are telling you the opposite of what the last customer service person told you. The credit agency won’t remove a debt from your report that belongs to someone else. The lender says you’re 30 days late on your payment when you literally just sent them proof that you had made the payment on time. Thousands of dollars in new fees keep appearing without explanation, and no matter how much you pay they keep telling you that you owe more. For all of these people, the CFPB is there to do what nobody else will: listen, try to figure out what’s going on, and try to get a response or solution from companies that are unresponsive and whose only interest is in bleeding you of your every last cent.

Yes, the CFPB was a remarkable achievement, for which Elizabeth Warren deserves the lion’s share of the credit, and it worked extremely well when it was staffed with people primarily recommended by Warren. I would like to congratulate the author of this comprehensive article.

“Bad faith” seems grossly inadequate here. The erasure of Warren’s work during the Obama administration to create a fairy tale in which Bernie is the only politician in America to ever have a progressive idea is embarrassing in any context, but this really is another level.

While we’re here:

“Scorched earth” LOL. This is Warren going scorched earth:

She did nothing like that to Bernie. And the two arguments are even worse together than they are individually. The argument is apparently now that Elizabeth Warren is a neoliberal snake with reactionary bougie whinemom supporters who would never support any progressive policy and also Bernie had an absolute vested right in receiving her massively important endorsement before his campaign even asked for it. Yeah sure.

To state the obvious, by the time Bernie sought Warren’s endorsement the race was practically over. Warren could not have affected the outcome of the primary — you think her endorsement was what Bernie needed to get the support of African-Americans in South Carolina? — and by staying neutral Warren has already gotten key policy concessions and preserved a real chance of becoming vice president. If people like Robinson actually cared about policy outcome that this was the right thing would be obvious, but they don’t; it’s “turn the Democratic Party into a cult that can only be led by one 78-year-old white guy or bust.” You would have to work hard to be less relevant going forward.

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