Why Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act is ‘Very Bad’ for You

Earlier this month, the U.S. House of Representatives voted along party lines to pass Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act. Republicans put the C.H.O.I.C.E Act (Creating Hope and Opportunity for Investors, Consumers and Entrepreneurs) into motion long ago.

What is this Legislation, and Who is Hensarling?

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling sponsored the legislation. His hope is that only small banks with at least 10% of their assets as capital will benefit. All but one Republican, and no Democrats, voted for the bill.

Its basic premise is to roll back regulations set by President Obama in response to the financial crisis in 2008. The new legislation will be dangerous for consumers because it limits the information available, especially regarding credit card companies. It also guts much of the funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was created by the Dodd-Frank law after the 2008 crash.

So Why is It ‘Bad, Very Bad’?

Hensarling's-Financial-CHOICE-Act

In addition to limiting information available to consumers (we’re all about educated and informed consumers making choices), the CHOICE Act will eliminate restrictions regarding how risky banks can be with consumers’ money when making investments, and limit their requirements to put consumers’ interests first. 

Hensarling’s bill would also “give the president the power to fire the heads of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, at any time for any – or no – reason.”

We already know that President Trump is looking to restructure the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  And now with the House’s passing of Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act, the CFPB could cease to exist. And that part about putting consumers’ interests first? The CHOICE Act eliminates the Volcker rule which prohibits banks from making investments that only they will profit from.  

We The People Deserve Protection

We, the consumers, deserve protection from fine print bullies. FeeBelly, the free contract review app, gives the average Joe and Jane advance knowledge of consent to detect hidden fees in terms and conditions statements, terms of use statements, financial agreements and contracts that companies are counting on you to not read – and lobbying the government to ensure that you don’t. The new legislation proposed by Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act directly opposes the values of many. Of companies and foundations like the CFPB and FeeBelly, that are working to empower consumers. FeeBelly CEO, Michael Asare responded to the House passing the CHOICE Act with the following comment. “Regardless of the outcome of this legislation, it’s critical for consumers to be informed, educated, and empowered to make the best possible decisions on their purchasing experiences.”  

A Future With Hensarling’s Financial CHOICE Act

While the legislation did pass in the House, it consumer-financial-protection-bureauwill likely undergo many changes in the Senate. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a champion of consumer protection who was instrumental in creating the CFPB, will fight to protect it. The CHOICE Act is another example of how companies and government may not always have consumer protections in the forefront. However, regardless of the outcome of this legislation, it is a reminder of why we need solutions like FeeBelly. As we await on the decision of the Senate, it is important to encourage companies, especially financial services companies, to be transparent with their fees and to consumers to utilize powerful protection tools.

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