This week, the Senate will consider S2155 on the floor. The bi-partisan bill S2155, the so-called “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act” led by Mike Crapo (ID) and Mark Warner (VA) rolls back big bank safety and soundness rules and exempts 85% of all banks from compliance with laws protecting consumers from mortgage fraud, racial discrimination and other consumer protections. In an effort to supposedly balance the bill’s deregulatory bent, it includes a weak free credit freeze provision that preempts stronger state law efforts. Excerpt from our letter:
“First, we are disappointed that the bill claims to be a consumer protection bill. Its housing and mortgage provisions are largely harmful to consumers. Its other supposedly countervailing but small consumer provisions, even if improved by amendments, do not in any way make the rest of the bill acceptable as a consumer protection bill. In fact, the states, as they did when they pioneered and enacted credit freezes nationwide in the 2000s, are now in the process of passing better, more comprehensive free credit freezes and credit reporting reforms than what is included in the totally preemptive Section 301 of S2155. There is no reason to pass Section 301 and 50 state reasons not to do so.
Second, the regulatory relief it does provide poses risks to the economic growth it purports to obtain. The relief it promises to small community banks is premised first on the notion that small banks are suffering due to the Dodd-Frank Act. In fact, the consolidation in the industry, though widely blamed on Dodd-Frank, was not caused by the act. According to Federal Reserve economists, bank consolidation has been occurring at a steady pace since at least 1984.
Third, the relief it provides to massive regional banks takes away important tools, some long-standing and some granted prudential regulators by Dodd-Frank after the 2008 collapse. Members should recall that other – now failed – similarly-sized super-regional banks proved to be active participants in the events leading to the 2008 collapse.
Further, as the PIRG-backed Americans for Financial Reform has detailed, there is no evidence that overregulation of the banking sector is having a negative impact on economic growth. As AFR has further explained, lending and bank profits, including by community banks, are both up since passage of Dodd-Frank. FDIC reports indicate the same.”
 For a discussion of historic bank consolidation trends derived from the St. Louis Fed’s FRED commercial bank database, see Ed Mierzwinski’s 2 May 2017 commentary, available at https://uspirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/banks-cook-books-promote-wrong-choice-act-attack-cfpb