Making the Deadline: Flurry of Support for Financial Literacy
By Dan Kadlec
July 11, 2018
Financial literacy advocates are painfully aware that in dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau the Trump administration threatens to severely set back the effort to help Americans become smarter about money.
“When I first logged onto CFPB I thought it was too good to be true,” says Nichole Leachman of the nonprofit Louisville Urban League. “The materials and literature they allow us access to are essential to our organization and the community we serve.”
“The CFPB provides tools and resources that help us better serve our community,” says Adriane Moline of the HUD-approved housing counseling agency Family Service Alliance. “We use many of their materials during our workshops. We love that these resources are free and easy for our clients to understand. The CFPB is a crucial tool for all Americans.”
Linda Sherry, director of the nonprofit National Priorities Consumer Action, says the CFPB appears intent on diverting “valuable consumer advocacy and third-party resources” and that “we remain gravely concerned about attempts to weaken consumer protection.”
“The materials and support provided by the bureau’s financial education programs are the backbone of my agency’s work,” says Rachel Houston, director of the nonprofit Financial Stability Partnership initiative of the United Way of River Cities in Huntington, WV. “The unbiased and relevant educational materials provided by the bureau are my first choice when working with clients and partners.”
These are among a flurry of comments submitted to the CFPB just before a July 9 deadline. Early this year, Acting Director Mick Mulvaney put the CFPB’s financial education operations up for formal review. He has now heard from 83 interested parties, half of them coming in the last few weeks.
This week, Mulvaney elevated Principal Policy Director Brian Johnson to the role of Acting Deputy Director, where he is unlikely to suggest any change in course.
The latest batch of comments, like earlier submissions including ours at Right About Money, are highly supportive of the CFPB’s financial education mission. They have a heartening sense of urgency about preserving the bureau’s efforts in financial literacy. They also pack more firepower in terms…
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…of the organizations behind the comments. Earlier submissions included many from individuals. The later submissions included more from organizations with a strong voice and specific suggestions.
The Independent Community Bankers of America weighed in, as did the American Bankers Association, and the Credit Union National Association.
Credit Unions generally welcome reform in rulemaking and enforcement. The CUNA submitted a white paper arguing that the Obama-era CFPB had unfairly lumped credit unions in with banks and other financial institutions that do not share credit unions’ unique commitment to community.
But the white paper strongly supports continued focus on financial education, stating: “Consumer education is proactive, not reactive, and should be the default for the bureau when addressing issues with consumer financial services or industry practices. More can and should be accomplished with the bureau’s consumer financial education efforts.”
The ABA weighed in with similar support, stating: “Financial education promotes participation in the financial services marketplace, empowering consumers to make informed decisions and encouraging a strong, innovative, and competitive marketplace. ABA believes that bureau resources devoted to consumer financial education will lead to better outcomes for individual consumers, promote inclusion in the banking system, and strengthen the resiliency of local communities and the U.S. economy.”
The ICBA was also supportive and recommended the CFPB devote more resources to educating the unbanked and promoting retirment savings.
This outpouring may be difficult to dismiss. As we have pointed out many times, the financial education arm of the CFPB is not the primary target and could easily be preserved.