Committee on Financial Services

Jeb Hensarling

Hensarling Remarks to the Exchequer Club

2016/11/16





Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)

Remarks to the Exchequer Club, Nov. 16, 2016

*As Prepared for Delivery

Good afternoon, everyone.  I’m Jeb Hensarling – and I approve this message.

No, I think we’ve all had enough of that to last us for a while.  Our long national nightmare is finally over:  the 2016 campaign.  Don’t worry; it will be at least a couple of weeks before the next campaign season really picks back up again.  Just for fun, the other day I googled “2020 presidential election.”  It lists 49 potential candidates.  So get ready, America!  We’ve only got about 1,155 days to Iowa! 

Thank you for inviting me to speak today.  It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to the Exchequer Club, and it’s been a while since I’ve been in Washington.  As all of you know, members of Congress have been back in our home states for several weeks.  Some of you may know it as “flyover country.”

But it’s really the Heartland of America.  By electing Donald Trump our next president, the people of the Heartland rose up and sent a clear message to the ruling elites last week.  They’re not going to take it anymore and they expect change. 

And they have every right to be upset.  They see themselves working too hard and not getting ahead – like trying to run up the down escalator.  This economy is still not working for working people. 

They’re upset at seeing their dreams for their children’s future diminished. They’re upset at of seeing their values ridiculed and scorned by the establishment. 

And every day they see their liberties and opportunities slipping away as Washington grows larger, more intrusive, more distant, more powerful and more arrogant.

So a hard fought election may be over, but our work is just beginning.  We must now help bring our country together and advance the cause of a better, stronger, more prosperous America.  I believe if we adhere to the Founders’ principles, we can put in place policies that create the real change Americans so desperately want. 

The Founders believed “We the People” were capable of governing ourselves.  They distrusted unchecked power, so they limited government and promoted individual freedom, free enterprise and the rule of law. 

These principles are what enable equal opportunity, prosperity and civil society to flourish. 

And on the Financial Services Committee, these principles are embodied in the proposals we offer and which I’ll discuss later, such as the Financial CHOICE Act to promote economic growth for all and bank bailouts for none, the FORM Act to bring accountability and transparency to the Federal Reserve, the PATH Act to create a sustainable housing finance system, and numerous other ideas to help Americans on Main Street achieve financial independence and a better, more hopeful life.

Regrettably, when Americans look at Washington today, they see our federal government has drifted far from the Founders’ vision.  Instead of limited government comprised of three accountable branches, they see power concentrated into a large and intrusive centralized government, ruled not by “we the people” but by so-called experts in a new fourth branch that reaches further and deeper into our lives and tries to make decisions for us.

The rise of this fourth branch of government should concern every American.  Because the rise of agency government risks turning our elections into a hollow exercise.  As author and scholar Steven Hayward wrote, if we allow government to be run by unaccountable bureaucrats then “elections no longer change the character of…government” because “no matter who wins…the experts in the agencies rule and every day extend their rule further.”

And up until last Tuesday’s election of Donald Trump, millions have felt powerless to change it. 

As Professor Jonathan Turley, a nationally recognized legal scholar at George Washington University has pointed out, this unaccountable fourth branch “now has a larger practical impact on the lives of citizens than all the other branches combined.”

Very few government policies, for example, have a more profound impact on the lives of working men and women than those that affect their ability to have a secure retirement.

Yet no one elected by the people had a hand in developing the Department of Labor’s so-called fiduciary rule, which will affect how investment advice is provided to every 401(k) plan, every IRA, and every rollover or distribution to or from either. 

Altogether, the rule is going to impact about $3 trillion of hardworking Americans’ retirement assets.  It will make access to financial advice more costly and less available to millions of lower and middle income workers -- and no one in Congress voted for it.

The effects are already being felt months ahead of implementation.  Merrill Lynch has already announced its clients will no longer be able to buy mutual funds in certain retirement accounts.

Others have protested the rule’s particularly harmful impact on those who work at small businesses.

“This rule would put a significant burden on small businesses and their employees, making it less likely that we will be sufficiently prepared for retirement,” says John Raine, president of a small manufacturing firm in Indiana.

The Trump Administration, working with our Republican majority in Congress, should make sure this harmful, bureaucratic rule does not go into effect as planned in just five months.  This is just one example of how unelected, unaccountable government hurts working people.

Another example is the CFPB’s rule that would shut down small dollar lenders without a single vote ever being cast in Congress.

How important is small dollar lending? Let me tell you the story of Robert Sherrill.  He was a hardened drug dealer.  Eventually his crimes caught up with him and he spent several years in prison, but somehow he emerged with a resolve to build a better life for himself. 

The only problem was that no one would take a risk on Robert.  He couldn’t get a job.  He couldn’t get a loan.  He couldn’t even get a bank account.  The deck was stacked against him.  It was against these odds that Robert decided that if he was going to turn his life around, he needed to start his own business.

Enter a local small dollar lender who understood Robert’s situation and designed a financial product to fit his needs.

 “The payday loan I got…was a lifeline.  It enabled me to start a business,” Robert said.

Today he employs 20 people.  He is a member of his local Chamber of Commerce and Better Business Bureau.  He is a productive citizen of his community.  He went from serving hard time to making it possible for others to live better times. 

And it would not have been possible if he couldn’t access a small dollar loan that the CFPB today essentially wants to outlaw – again, without a vote by Congress. These are just two examples of rule promulgated by the unelected and the unaccountable. These are just two rules that hurt struggling citizens. And these are two examples of rules the House Financial Services Committee, working with a President Trump, hopes to reverse.

Article One, Section One of our Constitution states “all legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress.” 

It is time for Congress to take greater responsibility for federal regulations, because when Congress allows its legislative authority to be usurped, the people’s right to both self-government and due process is undermined.  Instead of being governed by the rule of law, citizens become more and more governed by the rule of rulers.

On the Financial Services Committee, one of our top priorities for the 115th Congress is to arrest this assault on the people’s constitutional right to self-rule.  They have been deprived of their voice for too long.  We will work to make government accountable again.

Accountability is at the heart of our Republican plan to repeal and replace Dodd-Frank, called the Financial CHOICE Act.  It demands greater accountability from both Washington and Wall Street.

It makes sure every financial regulation passes a cost-benefit test, also known as common sense, so we’ll know a proposed rule’s impact on economic growth before it takes effect. 

With the exception of the Federal Reserve’s conduct of monetary policy, it puts all financial regulatory agencies on budget, because the bare minimum level of accountability to “We the People” is to have their elected representatives in Congress control the power of the purse.

Our plan also holds Washington accountable by converting financial regulatory agencies presently headed by single directors – the CFPB, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency – into bipartisan commissions. A bipartisan structure will result in better rulemakings as agencies start considering multiple viewpoints and perspectives.

Another critically important provision of the Financial CHOICE Act requires all major financial regulations to first be approved by Congress before they can take effect. 

This reform has already passed the House as the REINS Act, and it effectively returns Article 1 lawmaking to its rightful place:  Congress. 

Next, we repeal the Chevron doctrine.  This doctrine allows the bureaucrats to put their thumbs on the scales of justice, making sure the judiciary always gives deference to their interpretation of the law. The Chevron doctrine is unfair, it’s an affront to due process and justice, and if we’re going to make government truly accountable to the people, the Chevron doctrine has got to go.

At the same time the Financial CHOICE Act holds Washington accountable, it also holds Wall Street accountable.  It imposes the toughest penalties in history for those who commit financial fraud and deception.  We must ensure consumers and investors are protected, treated fairly and have access to competitive, transparent and innovative markets that are vigorously policed for fraud and deception.

In addition to greater accountability, another key part of our committee’s agenda is to end too big to fail once and for all.

Proponents of Dodd-Frank promised it would end too big to fail and taxpayer-funded bailouts.  But it did the exact opposite.  Dodd-Frank writes too big to fail and taxpayer-funded bailouts into law.

Republicans on the Financial Services Committee offer a simple answer to this problem:  bankruptcy, not bailouts. 

A new subchapter of the Bankruptcy Code tailored to specifically address the failure of a large, complex financial institution is part of our Financial CHOICE Act.  Taxpayer bailouts of financial institutions must end and no company can remain too big to fail.

And while we’re on the subject of bailouts, another major focus for our committee in 2017 will be the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, which is set to expire at the end of September. 

Unfortunately, this government monopoly is beyond broke – it is bailout broke.  $23 billion in debt thanks to Byzantine rules, misguided subsidies and zero consumer choice.

To fix this unsustainable situation, we will pass a reauthorization bill that begins the transition to a competitive, innovative and sustainable flood insurance market where consumers have real choices.

At a time when the Richmond Federal Reserve’s “bailout barometer” shows that U.S. taxpayers stand behind 60 percent of all financial system liabilities, ending too big to fail and getting more private capital into the flood insurance program are paramount.

Our committee will also continue working to relieve financial institutions from regulations that create more burden than benefit.  Our Financial CHOICE Act replaces growth-strangling red tape with the reliable accountability of higher and simpler capital requirements. 

This approach not only helps unleash greater opportunities for small businesses, innovators and job creators, it also stops investors from betting with taxpayer money. 

For banks willing to put their investors in front of hardworking taxpayers in the event of a failure, the Republican plan will free banks to help more Americans finance their individual American dreams.

And for millions of Americans, the very definition of the American dream is owning a home of their own. 

Regrettably, Dodd-Frank and the CFPB make it harder for Americans to achieve that dream. 

They give Washington elites the power to decide who can qualify for a mortgage, and that’s why the Federal Reserve reports one-third of black and Hispanic borrowers will be hurt by the CFPB’s Qualified Mortgage rule when it is fully phased in, based solely on its rigid debt-to-income ratio.  And again, all without a vote by Congress.

The American people deserve a better path forward – one that leads to a sustainable and fair housing finance system, so everyone who works hard and plays by the rules can have opportunities and choices to buy homes they can afford to keep.

At its core, the housing market is not fundamentally different from the market for any other asset. Housing is not immune to the economic laws of supply and demand or risk and reward.

Thus, Republicans offered the PATH Act, which principally relies upon private capital and market discipline to create a sustainable housing finance system.  The PATH Act includes four fundamental goals essential to the development of any free market.

First, the role of government is clearly defined and limited.  Second, artificial barriers to private capital are removed to attract investment and encourage innovation.  Third, market participants are given clear, transparent, and enforceable rules to foster competition and restore market discipline.  Lastly, consumers are afforded informed choices in determining which mortgage products best suit their needs.

The PATH Act specifically:

  • Ends the costly Fannie and Freddie bailout;
  • Protects and restores the FHA by defining its mission;
  • Increases mortgage competition, enhances transparency, and maximizes consumer choice; and
  • Breaks down barriers to private investment capital.

It’s been more than 8 years since the financial crisis, which was largely caused by Washington’s misguided housing policies.  It’s been more than 6 years since Dodd-Frank failed to do anything about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. 

It’s not easy; it’s the very definition of a “heavy lift,” but our committee looks forward to working with the Trump administration, to finally building a housing finance system that is sustainable for homeowners, for hardworking taxpayers, and for our economy. 

Ladies and gentlemen, free enterprise has made America the fairest, most prosperous, most creative, most generous, and most compassionate society the world has ever known. 

Nothing else has lifted more people out of poverty.  And no other economic system allows people to earn their success through hard work, personal responsibility and individual initiative.

But instead of encouraging and helping people earn their success, Washington’s approach to poverty creates dependency on the state.  It strips people of the dignity that comes from earning their own way.  You would be hard pressed to create a system that is less compassionate. 

As the Dalai Lama recently reminded us in the pages of the New York Times:  “A compassionate society must protect the vulnerable while ensuring…policies do not trap people in misery and dependence.”

HUD was supposed to be one of Washington’s chief weapons in the War on Poverty launched by President Johnson more than 50 years ago.  Yet HUD’s public housing projects are typically any city’s most despairing places, where generations of poverty-stricken families are warehoused and sealed off from the best schools, best job opportunities and safest neighborhoods.

HUD symbolizes the Left’s top-down, command and control, centralized planning approach that measures compassion for the poor based on how many programs Washington creates and how much money it spends.

As chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over HUD, I am committed to bringing new ideas to the table on better ways to fight poverty.  There is without a doubt a proper and important role for government assistance.  We must always have a strong social safety net below which no one can fall. 

But right alongside that safety net, there needs to be – as former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp called it – “a ladder of opportunity on which everyone can climb.”

That ladder of opportunity is work.  The best anti-poverty program ever devised is a job, even a part-time job.  Of all adults who were living in poverty in 2014, almost two in three were not working at all.  Compare that to only 2.7 percent of full-time workers and only 17.5 percent of part-time workers living in poverty.

We have a moral responsibility to lift these Americans up. 

Let me tell you another story.  I’ll never forget the single mom I met who was working at a retail store in Dallas. 

Before getting her job, she told me she had lived her entire life in public housing in New Orleans until Hurricane Katrina hit and, like many, fled to safety in Texas with her children.  Away from public housing’s desperate environment for the first time, she was finally able to take control of her life.  “Now when there’s food on the table, my sons know I provided it through my hard work.  Now when there’s a roof over their heads, they know that’s because of me,” she said.

She reminds us all that a job is more than just a paycheck.  It’s about dignity and respect. 

And we want all those struggling in poverty to know the pride and dignity that comes with work. 

Under the leadership of Speaker Ryan, House Republicans have put forward a far-reaching blueprint to empower all Americans to achieve the American Dream. 

I was honored to be part of the task force that developed this plan, which includes reforms to ensure able-bodied adults work or prepare for work in exchange for receiving taxpayer benefits, including housing assistance. 

Such reforms are truly compassionate because they aim to liberate the poor from lives of hopeless dependency, to lives of independence and economic opportunity.

And speaking of economic opportunity, our economy would be healthier – and more Americans would have the opportunity to achieve success – if the Federal Reserve did not wander into fiscal policy, and were more predictable in its conduct of monetary policy and more transparent about its decision-making. 

Today we’re merely left with so-called “forward guidance,” which is unfortunately amorphous, opaque and improvisational.  It leaves hardworking taxpayers uncertain as they attempt to plan their economic future. 

History – not theory, but history – shows that when the Fed follows a monetary policy strategy of its own choosing, and transparently communicates that strategy to the rest of us, the economy performs better and more Americans get to wake up in the morning and go to work. 

Therefore, reform of the Fed remains a top priority.  The House-passed FORM Act protects the Fed’s independence to chart whatever monetary policy course it deems appropriate, but it has to give the American people a greater accounting of its actions.

Lastly, there is one other issue I want to discuss that doesn’t fall exclusively under the jurisdiction of the Financial Services Committee, but is such an enormous threat to the well-being of every American it must be on the agenda of every committee, and that’s our unsustainable national debt.

The number and trends could not be clearer.  Under President Obama, our national debt has nearly doubled to an astounding $19.8 trillion.  The portion of the debt owed to U.S. and foreign investors now represents the largest share of the economy since 1950 and is on track to hit the highest level in recorded history.  GAO reports our debt will grow to three times the size of the economy over the next 20 years.     

For over 200 years a core part of our collective American ethos was “we work hard today so our children can have a better life tomorrow.”  But Washington’s insatiable greed means we’re letting government live better today, so our children will have to work harder tomorrow.

My children Claire and Travis are the reason why I gave up a career in the private sector to serve in Congress.  And I will devote every ounce of my being, my heart and my soul to stopping Washington from mortgaging their futures and forfeiting the torch of liberty that rightfully belongs to my children and yours. 

We cannot allow the debt deniers in Congress to make them the first generation of Americans to live with less freedom, less opportunity, and a lower of standard of living.

In Washington, I’ve learned to go to work each day with high hopes and tempered expectations.  But the agenda I’ve just outlined – accountability for Washington and Wall Street, economic growth for all, regulatory relief, an end to taxpayer-funded bailouts, helping Americans escape poverty, and confronting the national debt – this should be a bipartisan agenda.  Democrats should be just as interested as Republicans in tackling each one of these challenges.

Even though Republicans will be nominally in charge of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue soon, I remain painfully aware of the Senate’s cloture rules.  That means there will continue to be a need to work with the other party.  I’m certainly willing to negotiate in good faith on any proposal – from the Financial CHOICE Act to housing finance reform and anything else that comes before our committee.  And it is with great pride that I note that during the 114th Congress, our committee has successfully guided 76 bills to House passage.   That’s 66 percent of all measures reported out of our committee.  32 committee bills were signed into law, including 9 that make needed changes to Dodd-Frank.  All of them had bipartisan support.

I’m told that’s one of the best – if not the best – performance record of any major House committee.  With government so divided, that’s not bad at all – and I’m proud of the hard work of so many of our members who reached across the aisle and put forward good, common sense solutions.

I have an open mind, but it is not an empty mind.  And I never tire or falter in the advancement of the principles of freedom, free enterprise and limited constitutional government. 

Today, millions of our fellow citizens face stagnant wages, excessive tax burdens, rising health care costs, barriers to work and upward mobility, and an economy held back by hyper-regulation, cronyism and unsustainable debt. 

The work ahead will be hard and demands the best of us.  But that’s exactly what the American people deserve.  Let’s get started.  Thank you.




Read More

CFPB proposal ‘a restraint on free speech’

2016/10/26

CFPB seeks to silence investigation targets, drawing fire on free speech

By Lorraine Woellert \ VIEW ONLINE 

The CFPB wants to silence companies under investigation and is seeking greater freedom to share confidential information gathered as a result of those inquiries.

The bureau's proposal, part of a little-noticed update to its rules on records collection, drew unanimous fire from a broad coalition of financial companies, as well as from the American Bar Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, which called it unconstitutional.

The plan would prohibit targets of civil investigative demands or notice and opportunity to respond and advise letters — CIDs and NORA letters — from disclosing the receipt of such notifications. Legal experts called the proposal a restraint on free speech and warned that it could run afoul of laws that require companies to disclose material information to shareholders.

ACLU Legal Director Art Spitzer likened the proposal to National Security Letters, a product of the Patriot Act that give the FBI the power to collect customer records held by banks, telephone companies and internet service providers without a customer's knowledge.

"It's like the National Security Letter gag orders, except the compelling government interest is nowhere near what it is in a national security case," Spitzer said in an interview. "I'm not sure I see any compelling government interest."

On a practical level, the proposed rule would keep investors, shareholders and the public in the dark about federal investigations that might have a material impact on a company's operations. It also would give the bureau freedom to embark on "unwarranted fishing expeditions," said Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

"Because of the potential for government abuse and First Amendment due process implications, Congress has typically limited such arrangements to investigations with national security implications," Hensarling wrote in a letter.

The bureau also drew criticism for a proposal that would allow it to share privileged information with any "federal, state, or foreign governmental authority, or an entity exercising governmental authority" whenever "it is relevant to the exercise of the agency's statutory or regulatory authority."

That provision could pierce attorney-client privilege, a "bedrock legal principle of our free society", and hobble companies seeking advice on regulatory compliance, said Linda Klein, president of the American Bar Association.

A CFPB spokesman declined to comment.

The proposal is an attempt by the bureau to clarify rules regarding the treatment of confidential investigative information.

Other financial regulators limit public disclosure of confidential information outside of the agency but don't distinguish between supervisory materials and enforcement materials. Current CFPB regulations make both categories confidential.

Read More

Ransom?

2016/09/06


$400 million in cash stacked on wooden pallets carried in secret by an unmarked cargo plane on the same day four American prisoners were released from Iran.




That’s what Chairman Sean Duffy and the Financial Services Oversight Subcommittee will be examining this Thursday, along with the impact of such a payment on terrorism financing.

Watch and share this video and be sure to tune in on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

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Read More

More Evidence Destroying the White House’s Spin on Dodd-Frank

2016/08/19



Just last week the White House was claiming that the crushing regulatory burden of the Dodd-Frank Act wasn’t harming community banks – not one bit.

Community bankers, credit union leaders and small business owners told us that’s absolutely not true.

Today’s report from Bloomberg (Headline: Bank Mergers Heading for Seven-Year High, Pushed by Costly Rules) once again exposes how feeble the White House’s spin is:

Here’s an irony: U.S. regulators looking to avoid bailouts of too-big-to-fail banks have passed so many rules that regional and local lenders are combining to stomach the costs.

The result: Banks are bulking up.

Mergers and acquisitions by U.S. banks surged last year to about $18 billion, the highest level since 2009. This year, firms are set to fly past that mark, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. In nine of the 10 biggest deals completed in 2016, banks selling themselves cited heightened regulatory burdens as a driver, Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. The extension of low interest rates is compounding that pressure by eroding profits.

The regulatory pressures forcing small banks to sell can have an unfortunate effect on local economies, said Bill Hickey, a principal and co-head of investment banking at Sandler O’Neill.

“They’re the pillars in their communities,” Hickey said of the lenders. “When a community bank goes away, that generally is not a good thing.”

“Regulation has been a story of unintended consequences and bureaucrats rarely getting anything right,” said Jeff Davis, managing director at Mercer Capital, a business valuation and advisory firm.”

Contrary to what the White House would lead you to believe, the $400 million to Iran was ransom, you can’t keep your health care plan if you like it, and Dodd-Frank is hurting small community banks, credit unions and Americans who want to achieve financial independence.


Read More

Dear White House: Here's What Community Banks and Credit Unions Are Saying About Dodd-Frank

2016/08/10



Like Captain Renault, Americans are shocked – SHOCKED – that a report by the White House says a law supported by the White House doesn’t hurt community banks, no matter what.

Well, over the last few years Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee have asked community bankers, credit union leaders, and small business operators what THEY think about the Dodd-Frank Act.  After all, as our nation loses one community financial institution each day, they are the ones who have to somehow comply with Dodd-Frank’s crushing regulatory burden.

Here are some of their voices:

“Community banks are resilient. We have found ways to meet our customers’ needs in spite of the ups and downs of the economy. But that job has become much more difficult by the avalanche of new rules, guidances and seemingly ever-changing expectations of the regulators. This—not the local economic conditions—is often the tipping point that drives small banks to merge with banks typically many times larger. The fact remains that there are 1,200 fewer community banks today than there were 5 years ago—a trend that will continue until some rational changes are made that will provide some relief to America’s hometown banks.” - Tyrone Fenderson, President and CEO of Commonwealth National Bank

“Managing this tsunami of regulation is a significant challenge for a bank of any size, but for a small bank with only 17 employees, it is overwhelming. Today, it is not unusual to hear bankers—from strong, healthy banks—say they are ready to sell to larger banks because the regulatory burden has become too much to manage. Since the passage of Dodd-Frank there are 80 fewer Texas banks. These banks did not fail. Texas has one of the healthiest economies in the country – we call it the Texas miracle. These were community bankers – and I have talked to many of them personally – that could not maintain profitability in an environment where the regulatory compliance costs are increasing between 50 and 200 percent.” - Dale Wilson, Chairman and CEO of the First State Bank of San Diego

“The regulatory costs are overwhelming…Virtually everyone in our bank now is involved to some extent or another in complying with regulations, and so it has taken away from their ability and their resources to work with both existing customers and also to go out and solicit new customers, helping other people get businesses off the ground.” - John A. Klebba, President and CEO, Legends Bank

“The growing regulatory burden on credit unions is the top challenge facing the industry today. All credit unions and their members are being impacted. This burden has been especially damaging to smaller institutions that are disappearing at an alarming rate.  The number of credit unions continues to decline, as the compliance requirements in a post Dodd-Frank environment have grown to a tipping point where it is hard for many smaller institutions to survive. Those that do are forced to cut back their service to members due to increased compliance costs.” - Peggy LaMascus, President and CEO of Patriot Federal Credit Union

“To put the question of size in further perspective, consider that each of the four largest banks in the United States has total assets greater than the combined assets of the entire credit union system.  The rules that the CFPB has promulgated so far have not taken this disparity -- and disproportionate burden -- into consideration as much as we feel it can or should under the law.  This is one of the primary reasons that small financial institutions are disappearing at an alarming rate.” - Patrick Miller, President and CEO of CBC Federal Credit Union

“In recent years, Centennial Bank has experienced a sharply increasing regulatory burden. The nature of our business has changed from lending and investing in our communities to compliance with ever-changing rules and guidance… In the past 10 years our compliance costs have grown from approximately five percent of overhead to 15 to 20 percent today.  I believe this increase in regulatory burden has contributed significantly to the decrease of 1,342 community banks in the U.S. since 2010.” – David Williams, Chairman and CEO of Centennial Bank

“Among some of the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, the new CFPB perhaps carries the most risk for community banks. We are already required to spend significant resources complying with consumer protection rules. Every hour I spend in compliance is an hour that could be spent with a small business owner or a consumer.” - Greg Ohlendorf, President and CEO, First Community Bank and Trust

“As I see it from my standpoint, we will see community banks continue to decline. We simply cannot afford the high costs of federal regulation. And as one banker I will tell you this, my major risks are not credit risks, risks of theft, risks of some robber coming in with a gun in my office; my number one risk is federal regulatory risk. And I have a greater risk of harm to my bank, my stockholders from the federal government than I have anything else in this whole world. That is obscene. ” - Les Parker, Chairman, President and CEO, United Bank of El Paso de Norte

“Over the last several years, banks have faced increased regulatory costs and will face hundreds of new regulations with the Dodd-Frank Act. These pressures are slowly but surely strangling the traditional community banks, and handicapping their ability to meet the credit needs of their communities.” - Matthew H. Williams, Chairman and President, Gothenburg State Bank

“As one who has worked in community banks for over four decades, I maintain that despite policymakers’ good intentions in implementing regulations, they are ultimately detrimental to banks’ ability to grow and create capital in other communities and to build communities through job creation.” - Ignacio Urrabazo, Jr., President, Commerce Bank

“There is no doubt that the increasing amount of new laws and regulations that credit unions face have become overwhelming. As the credit union president, I spend many hours reading each new law and regulation. I can’t afford to hire lawyers to interpret them for me. Most of these laws and regulations are created to address a problem caused by organizations other than credit unions. Yet, the regulators continue to impose the same requirements on small credit unions as they do on the largest financial institutions in the country. This just doesn’t make sense.” - Maria Martinez, President and CEO, Border Federal Credit Union

“The greatest challenge facing many credit unions is cumulative impact of the rapidly growing number of regulatory burdens in the wake of the financial crisis. While any one single regulation may not be particularly burdensome, the layering of new regulation on top of old and outdated regulation can completely overwhelm small financial service providers like credit unions. Unfortunately, every dollar spent on compliance, whether stemming from a new law or outdated regulation, is a dollar that could have been used to reduce cost or provide additional services or loans to members.” - Ed Templeton, President and CEO, SRP Federal Credit Union

“We are regulating community banks particularly down to the point where there is barely room to breathe. That is not how you get the economy going. And that is not how you lend money out.” - Tim Zimmerman, President and CEO, Standard Bank

“The amount, intensity and uncertainty of new Federal regulations, chiefly the Dodd-Frank Act, have forced banks to allocate an enormous amount of time and resources to compliance, and away from our primary mission of serving our customers.” - Todd Nagel, President, River Valley Bank

“To community banks like mine, regulation is a disproportionate expense, burden, and a real opportunity cost. My compliance staff is half as large as my lending staff. This is out of proportion to our primary business: lending in our communities to support the local economy.” - Salvatore Marranca, President and CEO, Cattaraugus County Bank

“The bigger banks can absorb it, the smaller banks can’t. I would not be surprised to see half of the community banks in this country go out of business if we don’t give some relief from Dodd-Frank for them. I think that Dodd-Frank is a terrible piece of financial legislation. It didn’t address any of the causes of the crisis that we just went through. It won’t prevent the next crisis. It heaped volumes and volumes of regulations…It’s hurting the people who need the money the most. It’s hurting small business. I think it is impeding economic growth.” - Bill Issac, Former FDIC Chairman and Chairman of Fifth Third Bancorp

“Each new rule requires significant time and money and builds upon volumes of existing regulations. This is putting an enormous strain on our staffs, and for community banks, which are disproportionately affected due to their more limited resources, diminishing revenue streams, and with limited access to capital—it is becoming a nearly insurmountable burden. When you add to this the more than two dozen proposals established under Dodd-Frank for a whole new class of regulation – mostly to be issued by yet another regulator– combined with the uncertainty and legal risks—it is plain to see how difficult it can be to achieve the right balance between satisfying loan demands and regulatory demands.” - William Bates, Jr., Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Seaway Bank and Trust Company

“Community banks have been the life blood of this country, and they’re responsible for more small business successes than any other resources including government programs. What’s troubling to me and to my bank is the impact of government regulation that has been based not upon common sense but on politics.” - George Hansard, President, Pecos County State Bank

“If Dodd-Frank is allowed to stand and proliferate as a monster regulatory overhaul, only the largest institutions will be able to navigate its requirements, and the community institution model will continue to diminish. The cost of regulatory compliance is simply staggering. I’m not talking about efforts to keep an institution out of trouble; I’m talking about a well-meaning community institution that has no intention of being unfair to members of their own town. These smaller institutions spend a disproportionate amount of money and time to just meet the reporting and manpower requirements of this new regulatory overkill.” - Cliff McCauley, Executive Vice President, Correspondent Banking, Frost Bank

“Most banks in the Midwest did not participate in the underwriting practices that contributed to the recent recession. Sadly, however, we are paying for the past through costly new regulatory burdens, anxious examiners, and customers that are unwilling to borrow. These remedies are hitting all hearts of our financial statements, as costs are going up, opportunities to earn revenue have been curtailed, and the amount and cost of capital we need is increasing.” - G. Courtney Haning, Chairman, President and CEO, Peoples National Bank

“We know that there will always be regulations that control our business – but the reaction to the financial crisis has layered on regulation after regulation that does nothing to improve safety or soundness and only raises the cost of providing credit to our customers. As a banker, I feel like Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice in Disney’s famous cartoon Fantasia. Just like Mickey with bucket after bucket of water drowning him, new rules, regulations, guidances, and requirements flood in to my bank page after page, ream after ream.” - William Grant, Chairman, President and CEO, First United Bank & Trust

“The role of community banks in advancing and sustaining the recovery is jeopardized by the increasing expense and distraction of regulation drastically out of proportion to any risk posed by community banks. We didn’t cause the recent financial crisis, and we should not bear the weight of new, overreaching regulation intended to address it.” - Samuel Vallandingham, Vice President and CIO, First State Bank

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Democrats: Big on Rhetoric, Short on Facts

2016/06/08


Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling just rolled out the Financial CHOICE Act, a plan to replace the failed Dodd-Frank Act and grow the economy for all Americans.

And, like clockwork, left wing Democrats found the nearest possible microphone to trot out stale talking points about “Wall Street” and criticize the plan before they even knew what was in it.

Just like President Obama, we’re in “myth-busting” mode.  Here are some of their fact-free whoppers – and reality.

-------------------------------------


Claim: Senator Elizabeth Warren claimed the Financial CHOICE Act is nothing but a “wet kiss” for Wall Street full of “giveaways.”

Fact: The Big Banks on Wall Street oppose the Financial CHOICE Act (as the New York Times reported here).  And PoliticoPro reports that while big banks aren’t supporting the Financial CHOICE Act, “small banks, however, did not hesitate to get behind the plan.”

We remind Senator Warren that the CEO of Goldman Sachs said his big Wall Street firm would be “among the biggest beneficiaries” of Dodd-Frank and the CEO of JPMorgan Chase said Dodd-Frank benefits Big Banks by creating a “bigger moat” – “deterrents for small financial institutions to jump into new business lines and steal market share.”

-------------------------------------


Claim: Rep. Maxine Waters purported that the Financial CHOICE Act “
gives Wall Street a ‘get out of jail free’ card”

Fact: The Financial CHOICE Act imposes the toughest penalties in history for financial fraud, self-dealing, and deception to protect consumers and strengthen markets.  It demands real accountability from Wall Street. (Side note: It’s the Obama Justice Department – with its prosecutorial discretion and power – that has treated Wall Street as Too Big To Jail.)  

-------------------------------------


Claim: Senator Sherrod Brown claimed that we are attempting to “
make life easier for mega bankers and tougher for ordinary Americans.”

Fact: To use the Senator’s terminology, “mega bankers” are opposed to our plan. Why? Because Democrats gave them a competitive advantage with Dodd-Frank.  Today, Big Banks are the only ones with the manpower and resources to navigate Dodd-Frank’s regulatory maze. Community financial institutions don’t have the same luxury, which is why we’re losing an average of 1 per day.

And Senator Brown’s attack seems hypocritical since the Financial CHOICE Act takes a similar approach to one he proposed regarding capital standards.   

By the way, Senator:  It’s Dodd-Frank that has made life “tougher for ordinary Americans.” 

  • Before Dodd-Frank became law, 75 percent of banks offered free checking.  By 2015, just 37 percent of banks offered free checking.  Not in the 12 years Bankrate has been studying it have so few banks offered real free checking -- a checking account with no monthly fee, regardless of your balance or whether you do direct deposit.”
  • According to the Federal Reserve, when fully phased in, one-third of black and Hispanic mortgage borrowers will be hurt by Dodd-Frank’s Qualified Mortgage rule based solely on its rigid debt-to-income ratio; and one out of every five borrowers who borrowed to buy a home in 2010 will not meet the rule’s underwriting requirements.
-------------------------------------


Claim: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest claimed the Dodd-Frank Act ensures “taxpayers will not be on the hook for bailing out the big banks.”

Fact:  The Orderly Liquidation Fund was created by Dodd-Frank and its sole purpose is to bail out Too Big To Fail banks. Here’s a pro-tip Josh, if it looks like a bailout and acts like a bailout, it’s a bailout. 

BONUS

Claim:  “[T]here should be no more confusion about which party is on the side of big banks and large financial interests on Wall Street.” – White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest

Fact:  You got that right.  Unlike the failed Dodd-Frank Act, the Financial CHOICE Act will provide economic growth for all and bank bailouts for none.



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Arbitration vs. Litigation

2016/05/18



You’d be hard-pressed to find a consumer willing to pay more and wait longer only to receive a worse result. But that is what’s passing for consumer protection these days in the eyes of the CFPB and its new proposal to outlaw arbitration.

For the non-lawyers in the room, arbitration is a form of dispute resolution where parties agree to settle a claim with the help of an independent mediator, rather than hiring a lawyer, joining a class action lawsuit and waiting – sometimes for years – before our overcrowded court system can hear their case.  But the CFPB is trying to prohibit this more cost effective alternative and the many benefits it offers consumers. 

Without arbitration, consumers will be relegated to joining class action lawsuits, which is actually much worse for consumers according to a recent study from—wait for it—the CFPB. That’s right, the Bureau’s own 2015 study shows that only 13% of class actions are settled on a class-wide basis. And among the consumers eligible for relief in those 13% of cases, only 4% ever receive one red cent from the settlement.  In other words, class action lawsuits benefit just 0.5% of the class members…ONE-HALF OF 1%.  

Yet, that is what the federal government wants to force on consumers.

So what’s all this really about? Money.   

This CFPB rule is nothing but a big, wet kiss for trial lawyers who will reap the benefits of more litigation and exorbitant payoffs from class action lawsuits.

Seriously though, does anyone think that we need more litigation in America today?

The Bureau’s proposed rule would significantly increase costs, time-to-resolution, and the burden on our judicial system.

It may be a great deal for trial lawyers (like Saul), but it’s a bad deal for consumers.  

 











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9 Seinfeld GIFs Help Explain the "Fiduciary" Rule

2016/04/07


1. The Administration just published a rule to “protect consumers” which sounds great at first…

2. But then we realized that it’s 1,000 pages long. 1-0-0-0 pages…


3. And it doesn’t actually protect consumers at all.


4. The truth is this rule limits consumers’ choices and will make financial advice more expensive and less available – which is just wrong.


5. American consumers are already hurting and Washington bureaucrats shouldn't make it harder and more expensive for them to plan for retirement, send a child to college or open up their own small business. 

 

6. And when the Administration’s own experts warned this rule could hurt more than help, the political appointees basically said, facts, schmacts.

 

7. There is good news though – we have a BIPARTISAN solution to stop this harmful rule. You can read more about that here

 

8. We WILL fight to protect the retirement security and investment choices for all Americans.


9. And we WILL NOT let the Obama Administration deny millions of hardworking Americans access to reliable, affordable investment advice.



BONUS GIF: Thank you for reading.


 

Tweet: We WILL fight to protect the retirement security and investment choices for all Americans.  #4MainStreet We WILL fight to protect the retirement security and investment choices for all Americans. #4MainStreet

Tweet: This rule will limit consumers’ choices and make financial advice more expensive for those who need it most. #4MainStreet This rule will limit consumers’ choices and make financial advice more expensive for those who need it most. #4MainStreet

Tweet: Washington shouldn’t make it harder for Americans to plan for retirement, send a child to college or open a small business. #4MainStreet Washington shouldn’t make it harder for Americans to plan for retirement, send a child to college or open a small business. #4MainStreet
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6 Photos from the Month of March

2016/04/01


The Debt Clock
// Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testifies as the national debt continues to climb.


The Hoosier
// Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) prepares to question a witness during a March hearing. 



The Gipper
// Chairman Jeb Hensarling waits near a portrait of a young Ronald Reagan as he prepares to address the Conservative Political Action Conference. 



“Maximize Pressure on Congress”
  // Secretary Jack Lew answers questions about a blistering new report that revealed the Treasury Department misled the public about the debt limit in order to “maximize pressure on Congress."



Article I
// Chairman Jeb Hensarling participates in a panel discussion with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) about their project to restore Congress’s Article I powers.



The Snowmobiler // Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Bill Huizenga (R-MI) listens to witness testimony during a March hearing.
 




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We are BIG fans of Dodd-Frank.

2016/04/01


April Fools.

We are not fans of Dodd-Frank and we’re doing something about it.

Under Dodd-Frank (a.k.a. Washington’s Financial Control Law), Wall Street’s “too big to fail” banks have gotten even bigger, while community banks that had nothing to do with the financial crisis are being crushed under bureaucrats’ one-size-fits-all regulations. The harm to consumers has been very real.

We can do better.

In the coming months, Republicans on the Financial Services Committee will advance a bold alternative that will offer greater opportunity to all and demand more accountability from Washington and Wall Street.

Our better approach will toughen penalties for those who engage in wrongdoing and defraud consumers. It will end taxpayer-funded bailouts and empower consumers with more choices, not more red tape.

It will help level the playing field and grow the economy from Main Street up.

Instead of out-of-control bureaucrats and job-crushing regulations, we’ll offer working families more freedom and more opportunity, so they can achieve financial independence, raise their standard of living, and earn success.

And that is no joke.

Happy April. Stay tuned for more updates on our work.

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Contact Information

2129 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-7502
Fax 202-226-0471
financialservices.house.gov


Membership

Andy Barr

KENTUCKY's 6th DISTRICT

Robert Dold

ILLINOIS' 10th DISTRICT

Sean Duffy

WISCONSIN's 7th DISTRICT

Stephen Fincher

TENNESSEE's 8th DISTRICT

Mike Fitzpatrick

PENNSYLVANIA's 8th DISTRICT

Scott Garrett

NEW JERSEY's 5th DISTRICT

Frank Guinta

NEW HAMPSHIRE's 1st DISTRICT

Jeb Hensarling

TEXAS' 5th DISTRICT

French Hill

ARKANSAS' 2nd DISTRICT

Bill Huizenga

MICHIGAN's 2nd DISTRICT

Randy Hultgren

ILLINOIS' 14th DISTRICT

Robert Hurt

VIRGINIA's 5th DISTRICT

Peter King

NEW YORK's 2nd DISTRICT

Mia Love

UTAH's 4th DISTRICT

Frank Lucas

OKLAHOMA's 3rd DISTRICT

Blaine Luetkemeyer

MISSOURI's 3rd DISTRICT

Patrick McHenry

NORTH CAROLINA's 10th DISTRICT

Luke Messer

INDIANA's 6th DISTRICT

Mick Mulvaney

SOUTH CAROLINA's 5th DISTRICT

Randy Neugebauer

TEXAS' 19th DISTRICT

Steve Pearce

NEW MEXICO's 2nd DISTRICT

Robert Pittenger

NORTH CAROLINA's 9th DISTRICT

Bruce Poliquin

MAINE's 2nd DISTRICT

Bill Posey

FLORIDA's 8th DISTRICT

Dennis Ross

FLORIDA's 15th DISTRICT

Keith Rothfus

PENNSYLVANIA's 12th DISTRICT

Ed Royce

CALIFORNIA's 39th DISTRICT

David Schweikert

ARIZONA's 6th DISTRICT

Steve Stivers

OHIO's 15th DISTRICT

Marlin Stutzman

INDIANA's 3rd DISTRICT

Scott Tipton

COLORADO's 3rd DISTRICT

Ann Wagner

MISSOURI's 2nd DISTRICT

Lynn Westmoreland

GEORGIA's 3rd DISTRICT

Roger Williams

TEXAS' 25th DISTRICT

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