Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-5th) had the Wells Fargo CEO in his crosshairs Thursday, but instead of going after the guy whose bank bilked $2 billion from hundreds of thousands of customers, he used much of his time criticizing the agency that brought Wells Fargo to justice.
That’s the complicated world Garrett has created, and he’s having a hard time living in it.
The Consumer Financial Protection Board was established under the Dodd-Frank financial reform act of 2010 to be a watchdog for consumer financial products and services. It does its job exceedingly well. It has returned over $11 billion to 25 million consumers in five years. In the case of Wells Fargo, it owned the stage – leading the investigation, exposing the fraud, and imposing $185 million in penalties to the bank for creating millions of sham accounts on unknowing customers over five years.
But Garrett, who consistently pushes legislation to neuter the CFPB, remarked the “CFPB was asleep at the wheel – they have one job and they blew it.”
If CFPB was not efficient enough to suit the congressman, he should answer these questions: Why did he vote for a bill that would have allowed banks to ban CFPB attorneys from participating in bank examinations? Why did he vote for another bill that allows banks to litigate unfavorable findings from CFPB examiners?
Even after the Wells Fargo fines were assessed, Garrett voted for the Financial Choice Act, which would cut salaries of CFPB employees (including bank examiners and enforcement attorneys) and pay them less than other financial regulators; end the CFPB’s use of enforcement actions against banks; and make it easier for banks to block CFPB requests for documents.
As one blogger put it, Garrett’s objection is like “telling the sheriff to move faster while trying to take away his horse.”
Garrett’s spokesman explained that “three years went by where customers were being abused (as) the CFPB was examining Wells Fargo, and the agency did nothing.”
Except for that part about imposing a record fine, and building a case that has shaken the industry.