During his campaign, Donald Trump claimed that he would not let “Wall Street get away with murder,” but now, well over two years later, the Trump Administration is allowing several industries to get away with anything and everything. Consumers, on the other hand, are suffering as law enforcement activity at three of the largest consumer protection agencies has fallen sharply under Trump as the White House continues to put corporate interests ahead of the working middle class of America.
“Public Citizen” Report
Public Citizen is a non-profit, liberal, progressive consumer rights advocacy report that has reported on what’s going on with the federal government and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding cases of misconduct that resulted in fines of $5,000 or more. In a report entitled “Consumer Carnage,” the group reports that during Trump’s first two years in office, these three agencies completed a combined total of 84 enforcement cases, which is a 37% decline from the 133 cases that were completed during President Obama’s first two years in the Oval Office.
According to the report, enforcement activity against corporations decreased by more than 50% at at the CFPB when the Trump administration assumed control over the agency in late 2017. The CFPB completed 11 enforcement actions in 2018 under Trump-appointed leadership, compared with 24 the prior year, when an Obama-appointed official led the CFPB. Also, enforcement activity of against corporations fell to to only seven cases at the CPSC during Trump’s first two years in office, compared with 13 in the last two years of the Obama Administration.
Serving and Assisting Corporations Instead of Policing Them?
Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, said in an interview, “Members of the Trump administration have made abundantly clear they perceive their function as serving and assisting corporations instead of holding them accountable for law breaking. Under this president, federal agencies have slashed fines, declined to bring cases against corporate wrongdoers and gutted enforcement programs. The result is a government that is eager to throw consumers under the bus.”
The law enforcement of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has, perhaps, been most disturbing. Public Citizen found that with the Trump Administration, the CFPB has moved to terminate investigations, settled cases, lowered fines, or imposed no fines at all in a minimum of ten cases and probably more. In one especially egregious case, the CFPB fined a lender accused of cheating American veterans out of their benefits just one dollar after the lender claimed he was unable to pay any fine.
You may be wondering where Public Citizen got its information and you may be questioning the validity of the information used to compile the shocking Consumer Carnage report. For the report, the consumer advocacy group examined enforcement cases at the CFTB, the CPSC, and the FTC from 2015 through 2018 and used the Violation Tracker database compiled by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First. Violation Tracker is the first search engine to track corporate misconduct and covers the following: banking, consumer protection, false claims, environmental, wage & hour issues, unfair labor practice, health, safety, employment discrimination, price-fixing, bribery, and other cases initiated by more over forty federal regulatory agencies since the year 2000.