There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh is hostile to health care for millions, thinks Presidents like Trump are above the law, and has given every indication that he will overturn Roe v. Wade. But there’s another big reason: Judge Kavanaugh thinks the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is unconstitutional.
Ten years ago, the American economy fell off a cliff and millions of people lost their homes, savings, and their jobs because greedy Wall Street bankers gambled with their lives and lost. The CFPB was created after the 2008 financial crisis to stop big financial companies from scamming Americans again – and it has been a tough watchdog for consumers. Since it opened its doors seven years ago, the consumer bureau has returned $12 billion to 29 million consumers cheated by big banks, credit card companies, and student lenders. It’s handled more than a million and a half consumer complaints and helped thousands of people put money back in their pockets. And it’s written new rules to protect families, servicemembers, and millions of Americans from financial tricks and traps in mortgages, credit cards, and prepaid cards.
But President Trump thinks the CFPB is too hard on lenders squeezing families. He has installed Mick Mulvaney to run the bureau–someone who thinks the agency shouldn’t even exist. Meanwhile, Trump’s new nominee to run the CFPB for the next five years, Kathy Kraninger, has zero consumer protection experience and played a role in the Administration’s immoral child separation policy.
Judge Kavanaugh is Trump’s latest assault on the consumer bureau. In 2016, Judge Kavanaugh wrote that the CFPB was a “threat to individual liberty” and found its structure unconstitutional. Judge Kavanaugh’s ruling was so out of the mainstream that it was quickly overruled by an overwhelming vote. But as a Supreme Court Justice, Judge Kavanaugh could provide the fifth and decisive vote to deem the agency unconstitutional for good.
President Trump and Republicans aren’t just betting Judge Kavanaugh will dismantle the CFPB–they’re also betting he’ll consistently rule for their corporate donors instead of working families. Don’t take my word for it–the night Judge Kavanaugh was nominated, the White House circulated a document bragging about Judge Kavanaugh’s “pro-business, anti-regulation” record and asking big business lobbyists to support his nomination. The White House declared that Judge Kavanaugh “has overruled federal regulators 75 times on cases involving clean air, consumer protections, net neutrality and other issues.”
The CFPB was created to keep an eye on the financial giants that crashed our economy ten years ago, costing millions of Americans their homes, their jobs, and their savings. Instead of protecting taxpayers from another crisis, friendly regulators, Congressional Republicans and their donors have been champing at the bit to block rules that protect taxpayers from another crash. After getting a massive tax windfall, making record profits, and cozying up to their former banker buddies who now regulate them, Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination is a gift to the gigantic banks and their army of lobbyists who have waged an all-out assault to undermine the CFPB and consumer protections.
The CFPB isn’t unconstitutional. It was the people’s response to a massive financial crisis that started with one predatory mortgage at a time. It’s now the cop on the beat protecting people from Wall Street abuses.
President Trump chose Judge Kavanaugh from a pre-approved list of anti-consumer, right-wing nominees, but Donald Trump isn’t a king. He can’t just appoint someone to the Supreme Court without getting through the Senate first. Over the next few weeks and months, our job is clear: It’s time to raise our voices like never before. Let my colleagues in the Senate know that they should stand on the side of consumers and the CFPB, not buried deep in the pockets of special interests that believe a Justice Kavanaugh will let them continue tricking, trapping, and outright cheating Americans.
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