On a day when congressman John Faso should be voting on a clean Dream Act to help hundreds of thousands of children become United States citizens — members of the only society they’ve ever known — he’ll instead be watching the Senate consider a version of a bill he helped pass this past summer that helps payday lenders prey upon all Americans, including veterans.

Here’s just a tiny history lesson so you can understand the context of today’s news.

In 2006, just a few months before this nation fell into a spiral of financial collapse thanks to, yes, predatory lenders propping up an economy that was supposedly red hot, with an inflated stock market, the U.S. Department of Defense was already beginning to smell a rat. It learned that active and veteran military were victims of loan rates as high as 400 percent.

They were not alone, as we all know. Predatory lending was the backbone of the 2007-08 financial crisis.

What’s that got to do with today?

John Faso thinks it’s a good idea to deregulate the banks all over again.

Remember that we got Dodd-Frank legislation because banks were engaged in practices such as bundling and re-selling loans that featured massive balloon debt bombs. Unregulated banks created the financial meltdown. And John Faso apparently has amnesia when it comes to this history. Or it could be that the financial sector leads in funding his office.

Last summer he voted in favor of the cynically named Financial CHOICE Act of 2017, a.k.a., repeal Dodd-Frank and attack the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The bill’s proposals include:

  • Prohibiting publishing data the government collects on consumer complaints on financial services. Yes, so reports like the one cited above by the Department of Defense, showing how vets are victims of predatory loan practices, would in fact become illegal.
  • Worse, eliminating the ability of the government to track poor lending practices would shut the door on the ability of consumers to make appeals about their credit scores. Something we can all do now directly at the CFPB website. Collection of such data has made it plain when lenders are harming consumers, whether on purpose or through negligent practices.
  • Still worse, the CHOICE Act would enable the President to fire the head of the CFPB, an erstwhile independent agency. In case anyone needs a reminder, this is a President who’s had to settle lawsuits for defrauding his own customers. He’s sought to gut the protections the CFPB provides to consumers, including having the CFPB drop a lawsuit just a few weeks ago against a lender that was charging 950 percent interest. That’s your president, looking out for the banks, not the voters.

Getting back to veterans, the The CFPB’s Office of Servicemember Affairs, which came into being in the wake of the financial crisis and complaints by government agencies like the DOD, has recovered more than $130 million for servicemembers and their families. A 2014 series of complaints led to a crackdown that recovered $92 million for 17,000 troops.

Now let this sink in. It’s not just Trump that wants to shield banks instead of constituents and gut the CFPB.

John Faso voted to gut the CFPB, too.

He voted directly against an agency that has sought to defend veterans—and all Americans—against predatory lending practices.

Recently Faso sided with banks and credit card companies against the interests of consumers, by making it impossible for his constituents to win legal fights when they’ve been harmed by predatory lenders.

That same CFPB Office of Servicemember Affairs has found that military are some of the most frequently preyed upon by banks and payday lenders.

As if harming vets isn’t enough, the CHOICE act would unwind a rule that requires bankers at smaller institutions to act in the best interest of their clients, and especially, not to deceive clients about whether they intended to sell their loan in so-called bundling schemes. Yes, you’re right, those are the exact schemes that got us into the financial disaster we saw a decade ago.

Now the Senate version of this bill is about to come up for a vote and contains some truly rotten components:

  • While Dodd-Frank guarantees protection from surprise insurance fees and taxes, the Senate bill would cut these.
  • Makers of manufactured homes (a.k.a., low-cost mobile homes common in NY 19) would be exempted from truth in lending requirements, putting local homebuyers at risk of predatory lending. Rural homebuyers are particularly at risk from a new provision that could lead to homes being overvalued at the time of purchase, putting them at greater risk of owing more on their mortgage than the value of their home.
  • And the Senate bill allows lenders to surprise buyers with new predatory loan terms at the time of closing, without adequate time for review.

Here’s what you can do now, to resist this awful deregulatory effort that will harm veterans, harm everyday Americans, and potentially cause another calamitous free-fall of our economy.

While we already know where No-Show-Faso stands, and Senator Gillibrand has voiced opposition to the legislation, Senator Schumer has been relatively quite, which is disconcerting. You can let him know how you feel by calling his Peekskill 914-734-1532 or Albany 518-431-4070 office.

And finally, given how John Faso has regularly stood on the side of banks, not his constituents, you can call his office to voice your displeasure with his callous disregard for the people he supposedly represents, and kick him out of office come November. Until then we will continue to document his horrendous record.

Give John Faso a piece of your mind by calling:

Washington, D.C.: 202-225-5614
Kinderhook: 518-610-8133
Kingston: 845-514-2322
Delhi: 607-746-9537

 

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