In 2017, consumers, along with some of the programs and government agencies that protect them from predatory business practices, appear to have taken a beating.
Pundits and elected officials charge the Trump Administration with attempting to undo much of the legacy consumer, worker, and environmental protection programs and regulations implemented over the past five decades. Their evidence is certainly compelling…
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wishes to do away with clean air standards for dangerous oil and gas well methane emissions and has canceled the Clean Power Plan designed to lower carbon emissions clearly tied to global warming, asthma and related diseases.
- The Department of Labor is blocking new rapid electronic job injury reporting by employers which was designed to enhance the processing of workers comp claims.
- The Department of Education is working to dump an effective fraud defense for student loan borrowers in collection cases made by phony or unscrupulous lenders.
Under the radar, we find new and prominent omissions in federal automobile safety standards and enforcement, as certain unheard-of technological advances a few years ago have received virtually no regulatory attention. Take driverless cars, for example. Manufacturers are racing to develop them; yet, they remain completely unregulated for safety by the government. Despite the risk, they are still openly tested on public streets, surrounded by unsuspecting and vulnerable motorists.
Even recall requirements for motor vehicles with safety hazards seem somewhat lax — for example, the growing number of carbon monoxide leakage complaints in Ford Explorers, currently with over a million vehicles on the road. None have been recalled by Ford or the Department of Transportation, even though the automaker is “informally” offering to check-out any recently built Explorer if the owner brings it in.
Happy Times for Big Business: Not so Great for Consumers
But the most recent indicator – yet certainly not the last – happened just after Thanksgiving when the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB) ended up with two directors for a day.
The incumbent resigned and named his deputy as the temporary director, which was his right. But then President Trump stepped in, designated his own interim deputy (the current Office of Management and Budget Director) and caused a firestorm of blowback by consumer advocates and elected officials.
The bureau was created because, before the financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession which followed, there was no federal regulator specifically looking out for the little guy. The temporary director, Mick Mulvaney, is a well-known “friend” of big business and has called the CFPB, “a sick, sad” joke. In light of this, many charge the Trump White House with trying to defang the only federal agency which keeps everyday Americans from being ripped-off by the financial industry
Before the CPFB, consumer financial protection was left to a cornucopia of bank regulators. It had no top priority until President Obama, not long after he took office – and with the assistance of Congress – created the bureau to protect all Americans from the dangerous financial products that banks and other financial firms – previously free from any oversight – created.
Whether this situation passes judicial scrutiny remains to be seen, although the courts quickly ruled in favor of Mr. Mulvaney’s appointment. But it’s just the latest in a long string of evidence which suggests that for consumers, they’d better fasten their seat belts, “it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
If you or a member of your family has been the victim of predatory business acts or defective products and would like to speak to someone at our firm, please call us at 606-433-0682 or fill out this online form to learn how we can help you.