The Antidote to Trump

Scott Pruitt, administrator of the EPA,  is systematically weakening the EPA.  We have pulled out of the Paris Climate Change Accords, the Clean Water Rule has been suspended,  and the Clean Power Act is being repealed.   Large areas are being opened to mining and oil exploration with minimal review of potential environmental damage. The EPA budget will be reduced by 31% and 25% of the staff will be fired.

It is a tactic to please the right wing, conservative base of Trump’s administration.  The  harm is increased global warming with more extreme weather conditions, causing loss of lives and destruction of homes.   Global warming does not cause hurricanes, but it can make them more frequent and more intense as a result of warming seas.  Long term effects will be decline in the more fragile ecosystems, in  Florida and the Chesapeake Bay, with profound effects.

While Scott Pruitt is doing everything he can to make the EPA less effective,  Mike Mulvaney is going to extreme measures at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, to make the agency ineffective in defending the consumer – just the opposite of what it was set up to do.   I reported that after Equifax security was breached and information on 146 million Americans was stolen,  Mulvaney is not issuing subpoenas for information.  I’ve reported on the atrocious action in allowing Insurance Bi-Weekly to get back in business (not requesting bond equal to their judgement while it was being appealed).

There is a long list of what Trump is doing wrong.  I happen to like Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, but Trump is always undercutting him, and cutting back on the “soft power” of the US,  by diminishing our role in the UN and not filling diplomatic posts.   I think Jeff Sessions is honest and forthright, not allowing the Mueller investigation to become political.    Trump has criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Mueller investigation, calling him weak.

At this point, the antidote to this, is to elect Democrats to the Senate and House of Representatives in the Fall to help  repair the damage.  There are very few Republicans with a strong environmental record.  We need responsible government and a president that truly believes in a progressive agenda.   I don’t know who I’ll vote for in the next presidential election, but it won’t be for Trump.  The BS coming from Fox News and other conservative outlets is strong, but people can see their way past this stuff.

The best antidote for what is going on in Washington, is an active and informed electorate.  It’s called critical thinking and taking action primarily at the ballot box.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Born free – CFPB and Equifax

Mike Mulvaney is protecting consumers, by not letting their hard earned money go to government.   Specifically, the agency he runs, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is actually anti-consumer.   The average citizen can’t sue Wells Fargo for setting up phony accounts, or Equifax which was hacked and potentially data on 140 million Americans was stolen.  I’ve reported how he reversed course and did not require Nationwide Biweekly Administration to post bond while appealing the 8 million dollars against them.   It really says to this company,  at your level, crime actually does pay.

How bad was the Equifax breach?  According to the company:

The credit reporting company announced in September that the personal information of 145.5 million consumers had been compromised in a data breach. It originally said that the information accessed included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and — in some cases — driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. It also said some consumers’ credit card numbers were among the information exposed, as well as the personal information from thousands of dispute documents.

It doesn’t sound like it could get any worse, but it just did.  Add to the list of stolen data, email addresses and tax identification numbers as revealed by the Senate Banking Committee.   Tax identification numbers are used by foreigners to pay income tax.   The breach now goes beyond US citizens, and has to be addressed at the federal level.

CFPB can not comment on an active investigation,  but there has been enough leaks to know that CFPB is doing very little (Huffington Post article):

Three sources say, though, Mulvaney, the new CFPB chief, has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives, routine steps when launching a full-scale probe. Meanwhile, the CFPB has shelved plans for on-the-ground tests of how Equifax protects data, an idea backed by Cordray.

Further, the Huffington Post reports:

The CFPB also recently rebuffed bank regulators at the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency when they offered to help with on-site exams of credit bureaus, said two sources familiar with the matter.

A lot of Americans are going to be subject to identity theft as a result of the security breach.   I am a victim and there is this horrible feeling of helplessness, as I suddenly found 20 false charges totaling $4500 on one credit card.   I take Mulvaney’s inaction quite personally.

Lending discrimination is against the law, but again nobody has the resources to challenge the large inter-state lending institutions.  CFPB has lost its enforcement powers.

I think the bureau can only be restored (Make America Great Again) by a change in administration.  Unfortunately, this will have to wait another three years.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

ZNet:  Equifax says more private data was stolen in 2017 breach than first revealed   (AP reporting)

Huffington Post: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Reportedly Scales Back Probe Of Equifax

Trump administration strips consumer watchdog office of enforcement powers in lending discrimination cases

Destroying the Consumer Financial Protection Agency – Piece by Piece

Note- this blog was updated on December 8, 2017,  with a few corrections, and additional links. Still it’s all pretty damning evidence that Mulvaney has no interest in protecting consumers in real estate related transactions.  Obviously, neither does Trump.

Mike Mulvaney does not believe in the bureau he has been appointed to run.   In public statements, he clearly does not feel the government should be protecting the consumer in complicated financial transactions, typically mortgages.    He has declared it a “sad, sick” example of bureaucracy gone amok.  (see New York Times article)   Judging by the number of successful prosecutions in support of consumers,  it appears Mulvaney is wrong.

Nationwide Biweekly Administration (NBA)  was accused by CFPB of widespread fraud, involving more than 100,000 mortgage customers.  NBA has nothing to do with Nationwide Insurance, and its sole business is convincing mortgage holders that it is in their best interest to pay off their mortgages on a biweekly basis, resulting in 13 payments instead of 12,  which the company would pocket.

The scam involved false advertising, promising customers that Nationwide would reduce their  interest payments.  It involved mass mailings as as many as 33 million mailers were sent out.   Through billing the customers for  26 biweekly payments, the company would collect one extra monthly payment.   Nationwide retains the first mortgage payment as a setup fee which can be up to $995 according to the CFPB.   Plus they would add other service fees,  increasing their  mortgage payments to consumers.

It is an egregious ripoff and was found in violation of the laws and regulations protecting consumers. The CFPB alleges these practices violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Consumer Financial Protection Act’s prohibition against unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices.  See the government’s lawsuit against Nationwide.

Daniel Lipsky is the founder, president, and sole owner of Nationwide.  He reportedly made 33 million dollars from the biweekly payment program.  Nationwide Biweekly website link is provided in the links.

CFPB sued Nationwide and had a partial victory in the lawsuit.   After lengthy litigation, a judge in September 2017 ordered Nationwide to pay nearly 8 million dollars in penalties.    This was far less the 77 million dollars that the CFPB had sued for, which included restitution to its customers.  See link at the end of this blog.

CFPB asked for a 8 million dollars in bond, while Nationwide appealed the verdict.  This is completely routine to help insure the payment to fraud victims.  The case was inches away from the finished line.

Mike Mulvaney  arrived last week, determined to make the agency less effective for now and whoever comes after him.  He ordered  bond request withdrawn destroying .  Victims may never get anything from the government’s lawsuit, after three years in the making.     According to the Quartz link:

The decision could allow Lipsky to re-open Nationwide, which still has more than 100,000 customers. If the new-look CFPB takes the same approach to his appeals, he may face no penalty at all.

Can you imagine how let down the victims of fraud and CFPB investigators must feel?  This action will embolden loan originators and con artists (like Nationwide Biweekly) to once again look for prey.

Not exactly making America great again!

Stay tuned,

Davc

Quartz: FALSE & MISLEADING,  The abrupt reversal that shows Donald Trump’s approach to consumer protection

NYT:  Consumer Bureau’s New Leader Steers a Sudden Reversal

Original complaint as filed by CFPB

We’re the CFPB. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit:

 

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/

Perhaps the future website will change verbs to the past tense.

Nationwide Biweekly Administration

I could not find the actual judge’s order, but this link provided the 77 million dollar value in the original lawsuit by CFPB.   It is written by an attorney who advises real estate professionals, so it has some bias.  CFPB makes allegations, and the courts then look at the evidence to decide appropriate penalties. Also note the opinion was as of September 17, 2017 before Mike Mulvaney took charge of the CFPB.

Mortgage-Payment Company Escapes Doom in Trial Against CFPB

Leandra English is still contesting Mike Mulvaney’s takeover of the CFPB:

http://freebeacon.com/issues/leandra-english-day/