A House hearing called out witness Newt Gingrich for his shady financial dealings seeking to undermine the work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Gingrich, who works as a Fox News contributor and Washington Times columnist, appeared as a witness before a December 16 House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing entitled, "Examining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Mass Data Collection Program." During the hearing, Gingrich attacked the pro-consumer bureau for purportedly being "dictatorial" in its collection of consumer data.
Gingrich has worked as a paid adviser for the U.S. Consumer Coalition, a secretive group that is attempting to dismantle the CFPB. Gingrich is also a paid adviser to Wise Public Affairs, whose clients include the U.S. Consumer Coalition. (Gingrich acknowledged his connections to both groups during the hearing.)
While Gingrich claimed during the hearing that he wasn't trying to be secretive about his anti-CFPB financial connections, that wasn't the case this summer. Gingrich wrote a July 1 Wall Street Journal op-ed attacking the CFPB and promoting the U.S. Consumer Coalition. The op-ed did not disclose any of his financial ties, simply identifying Gingrich as a former House speaker. Following criticism by Media Matters and The Washington Post's Erik Wemple, the Journal issued an "amplification" that he is "a paid adviser to Wise Public Affairs, whose clients include the U.S. Consumer Coalition, which opposes some policies of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
Mother Jones had previously reported that the staffers at Wise "do double duty at the Consumer Coalition" and "Setting up groups like the Consumer Coalition seems to be a big part of what Wise Public Affairs offers its customers." However, it's difficult to decipher who is funding Gingrich and the campaign against consumer protections. Mother Jones noted that the "group's true funders may never be known. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the Consumer Coalition is permanently exempt from revealing its donors."
That shady funding came into focus during the hearing, when Gingrich was asked by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) about who funds the U.S. Consumer Coalition. Gingrich -- a "US Consumer Coalition Senior Advisor" -- professed to not know anything about the group's funding.
During the hearing, Rep. Al Green (D-TX) cited Media Matters' research and criticized Gingrich for initially failing to disclose during the hearing that he was "a paid adviser to the Wise Public Affairs group."
He noted that it's "very interesting that there seems to be a sort of a stealth campaign that's taking place under the radar, entities that can't be properly identified" that want "to make sure that the CFPB is emasculated and eviscerated if possible. This is unbelievable."
Rep. Green added: "The people of this country are absolutely being fed bad information. Yes, they are intelligent. Yes, they're smart. Yes, they can sift through the sand and find pearls -- pearls of information -- but they can't do it if you're getting bad information. And that's what this is all about, which is why we have put so much emphasis on what has happened with reference to this stealth organization, this mystery organization."
With global crude oil prices at their lowest point in seven years, and gasoline prices approaching their lowest point of President Obama's term of office, Media Matters remembers Fox News' hypocritical coverage of the relationship between presidential policy initiatives and fuel and energy markets.
An editorial published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail purporting to fact-check AFL-CIO radio ads targeting so-called "right-to-work" laws being pushed by West Virginia legislators identified no errors in the advertisements, but still attacked the labor union by promoting flawed and biased studies funded by anti-union donors.
The December 14 editorial was authored by the editorial board of the Charleston Daily Mail (in July the Charleston Daily Mail and Charleston Gazette merged to form the Charleston Gazette-Mail. The paper retains two independent editorial boards).*
The editorial discussed a West Virginia radio network's decision to pull three AFL-CIO ads from its airwaves, which reportedly cited them as "inflammatory." The editorial board claims the ads "mislead by quoting studies that don't necessarily address correlation and causation." The editorial continues by juxtaposing the claims in the AFL-CIO ad with "conservative" studies in an attempt to prove the AFL-CIO's claims are flawed:
The 54 percent increase in injury and death statistic comes from a 2014 AFL-CIO report "Death on the job, the toll of neglect," using Bureau of Labor statistics.
Yet a 2012 study by the conservative Meighen Institute suggests that union workplaces have more injuries than non-union workplaces. And a 2012 report from a Michigan group supporting right-to-work legislation cites a reduction in injuries and illnesses in Oklahoma over a 10-year period after right-to-work laws went into effect in 2001.
"It's true that right-to-work states have a greater incidence of fatal workplace injuries, but the very dangerous occupations are concentrated ... in occupations like farming, fishing and forestry regardless of whether the state has a right-to-work law," the CAPCON report says.
The AFL-CIO says that right-to-work states have lower average wage rates. That too is true, but as Daily Mail columnist Laurie Lin covered last week, those states also generally have much lower cost-of-living rates.
"When adjusting for cost of living, workers in right-to-work states have 4.1 percent higher per-capita personal incomes than workers in non-right-to-work states," reports the Mackinac Institute.
The editorial notes multiple times that the AFL-CIO's statements are true, even citing sources that back up the union's claims.
For example, the editorial cites "CAPCON" or Michigan Capitol Confidential -- an online outlet created by the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy to push the organization's studies -- agreeing with the AFL-CIO's argument that states with so-called "right-to-work" laws have higher incidences of fatal workplace injuries. CAPCON and the editorial noted that "It's true that right-to-work states have a greater incidence of fatal workplace injuries," but caveat the fact by claiming these right-to-work states engage in more dangerous occupations without providing any evidence of the fact. The studies and reports cited by the editorial fail to adequately counter the claims made by the AFL-CIO, as neither of the sources cited by the paper address workplace fatalities in their data, except to agree with the AFL-CIO's argument that right-to-work states lag behind other states in terms of workplace safety.
The editorial also claimed that the AFL-CIO's contention that "right-to-work states have lower average wage rates [...] is true," but defended the typically low wages of states with right-to-work laws by claiming that these states "generally have much lower cost-of-living rates."
The AFL-CIO's claim of higher workplace fatalities in states with anti-union laws is backed up by several studies, including one published in the American Journal of Public Health, which found similarly that, "Higher rates of fatal occupational injury were associated with a state policy climate favoring business over labor."
In addition, as a report in the Kennedy School Review notes, one study looking at unionization and coal mine safety from 1993 to 2010, found that "unionization predicted a substantial and significant decline in fatalities and traumatic injuries." The report also notes that while unionization also coincided with an increase in injury reporting, the phenomenon is most likely due "to more stringent injury reporting practices in union versus non-union mines." In essence, the Kennedy School Review found that injury reporting was held to higher standards after unionization, causing such reports to increase, while safety standards were also improved as a result of unionization, causing fatalities to decrease.
The AFL-CIO's claim that right-to-work states have lower average wages is also backed up by evidence, which contradicts the Mail's claim that incomes in states with restrictive union laws are higher after adjusting for cost-of-living. As the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) pointed out in an April 22 report, when accounting for a larger set of variables, not just cost-of-living differences, and "subject[ing] the results to a series of robustness tests," the AFL-CIO claim holds true - "wages in RTW (right-to-work) states are 3.1 percent lower than those in non-RTW states."
The Mail's failed attempt to discredit the AFL-CIO relied on a number of biased anti-union sources. The Mackinac Center, part of the conservative State Policy Network group of think tanks, has received millions of dollars from anti-union donors such as the DeVos family, the Walton family, and Donors Capital Fund -- the "dark money ATM" of the conservative movement funded in part by the anti-union Koch brothers. Lastly, as SourceWatch, a project of the Center for Media and Democracy, explains, Michigan Capitol Confidential (CAPCON) "produces articles and blog posts intended to appear like those of traditional news sources, but with a demonstrated conservative bias and pushing a right wing agenda."
*This piece has been updated throughout to clarify the relationship between the Charleston Gazette-Mail and its multiple editorial boards.
New enrollment for health insurance on the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) marketplace exchanges is ahead of schedule through the first six weeks of open enrollment this year, a strong rebuke to continued right-wing predictions that low enrollment and the closure of a few health insurance cooperatives would prove the law is a failure.
On December 9, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the latest figures on health insurance enrollments through Healthcare.gov. CMS reported over 1 million new customers have signed up for health insurance and that 1.8 million more renewed their plans through the exchange marketplace during the first half of this year's enrollment period. According to The Hill, CMS had only targeted 900,000 new insurance customers for the entire 2016 enrollment period, which ends on January 31. CMS administrator Andy Slavitt told The Hill "I'm a pretty conservative guy, and I'm encouraged by the start we've had."
According to The New York Times, interest in enrollment is high with six more weeks to go before the sign-up period ends and "call centers have been deluged with requests from others eager to enroll." While not everyone who signs up will ultimately decide to pay their premiums and receive coverage, early reports indicate that the health insurance marketplaces established by the ACA are on-target to meet their coverage expansion goals by the end of the year.
These positive early reports on enrollment numbers offer a stark contrast to right-wing media claims that enrollments this year would falter and that the law is failing to meet expectations. In November, several conservative outlets latched on to stories about the planned closure of a few health insurance cooperatives as proof that the president's signature health care reform law was in a "death spiral" and on the verge of collapse. In October, The Wall Street Journal responded to sharply revised 2016 enrollment estimates by claiming that Obamacare "won't survive." The Journal ignored that part of the government's estimate adjustment was the result of more people than expected staying on employer-sponsored health care plans as the uninsured rate fell to a record low of 11.4 percent. The Journal then used their dire predictions about Obamacare to push floundering Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's plan to repeal the law.
This is not the first time right-wing media have made false claims about the ACA or grim predictions of the law being a failure. During the 2014 enrollment period, Media Matters chronicled so-called health care "truthers" who suggested that participation numbers were too high and may have been made up. Fox's Sean Hannity claimed that the Obama administration was "cooking the books on this thing," and that millions of applications for enrollment had "appeared out of thin air," while other Fox personalities claimed insurance signups "magically" hit their enrollment goals. Right-wing media held so deeply to this false enrollment conspiracy that they confusingly declared victory and impugned Media Matters when, in late 2014, CMS announced that a minor accounting error for exchange-approved dental plans had overstated the number of enrollees by just under 6 percent.
For two consecutive years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has published an estimate of how many workers will choose to leave the workforce or reduce their work hours as a result of certain protections and subsidies created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As was the case last year, conservative media has incorrectly reported that the CBO was projecting potential job losses stemming from Obamacare.
Large portions of the federal government will shut down on December 11, unless the Republican-led Congress passes a long-term budget or short-term spending resolution to prevent a lapse in spending authority. In 2013, in the midst of a 16-day federal government shutdown that cost the American economy up to 120,000 jobs and $24 billion, major media outlets often neglected to report the toll Republican-led congressional gridlock took on American workers and families and misleadingly placed equal blame for the debacle at the feet of the Democratic Party and Obama administration.
A segment on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier attacked the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by falsely claiming that a study from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the healthcare law hurt the economy by reducing jobs. Fox correspondent Rich Edson argued that a working paper from the CBO buttressed GOP claims that the ACA would cost American jobs. The CBO study was referring to provisions of the ACA meant to end the issue of "job lock." MSNBC's Steve Benen explained that job lock "describes a dynamic in which many Americans would like to leave their current jobs - to retire, to start a new business...but can't because they and their families need the health benefits tied to their current job. " As Media Matters reported in 2014, the "projected change is in the supply of labor, not the demand for labor." Thus, the "job lock" provision actually gives Americans more choices, they can chose to work less or even retire earlier than expected and still be covered. From the December 8 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier:
Loading the player reg...
Al Jazeera America highlighted attempts by Republican members of Congress to use an omnibus spending bill meant to avert a government shutdown as a means of defunding a watchdog government agency dedicated to protecting consumers from fraudulent and predatory lending.
Host John Seigenthaler and correspondent Libby Casey discussed congressional Republican attempts to use spending legislation intended to avoid a federal government shutdown on December 11 as a means of gutting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As Casey reported, Democrats are defending the organization's role in protecting American consumers, and support a spending resolution that does not include so-called "policy riders." From the December 7 edition of Al Jazeera America's News:
Later in the segment, Seigenthaler was joined by consumer advocate Alexis Goldstein to discuss the important role CFPB plays as "the only federal regulator that is tasked with protecting consumers from financial abuse":
Conservative politicians are not alone in their attacks on the CFPB. The editorial board of The Wall Street Journal recently attacked what it called an "outrageous regulatory campaign" by the agency which seeks to curb a widespread practice wherein some consumers are charged higher interest rates or assessed extra fees when purchasing automobiles based on their race.
Fox News host Bret Baier claimed that 94 million Americans were "not in the labor force" in an attempt to dismiss the latest unemployment rate figure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics November 2015 Jobs Report. But Baier failed to note that most of the 94 million includes retired people and students.
In the December 4 edition of his Fox News show, host Bret Baier reported that the U.S. economy gained 211 thousand jobs, but claimed that "it's important to note that the number of people without a job, not participating in the workforce is still over the 94 million mark for the fourth month in a row."
BRET BAIER (HOST): Stocks surged today, fueled by a November jobs report that showed a gain of 211,000 positions. The unemployment rate remains at 5 percent, but it beat expectations, it's important to note the number of people without a job, not participating in the workforce is still over the 94 million mark for the fourth month in a row.
Baier's segment echoes right-wing media's false assertion that over 94 million Americans are unemployed without noting that the this figure includes millions of Americans who are not looking to enter the workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those considered to be "not in the labor force" are "those who have no job and are not looking for one. Many who are not in the labor force are students or retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force":
The labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed. The remainder--those who have no job and are not looking for one--are counted as not in the labor force. Many who are not in the labor force are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force. Since the mid-1990s, typically fewer than 1 in 10 people not in the labor force reported that they want a job.
Fox Business' Varney & Co. was virtually alone in criticizing the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) monthly jobs report for November 2015, which host Stuart Varney called "mediocre." Nearly every other media outlet, including Fox News Channel, reported that continued monthly job creation and stable unemployment levels stood as proof that the economy is strengthening.
On the December 4 edition of Varney & Co., Varney invited former Bush administration Labor Department official Paul Conway to discuss the BLS' monthly jobs report for November. Varney claimed that the creation of 211,000 jobs in November was "mediocre," and Conway added that the U.S. economy is "aggressively sustaining mediocrity." In addition to downplaying the strong monthly job creation figure, neither Varney nor Conway mentioned that the jobs figure beat expectations by 11,000, or that the BLS upwardly-revised positive job creation figures from September and October by an additional 35,000.
Other media outlets took a much different approach to the November report. CNN's New Day called the report "good news," pointing to "strong job growth" as evidence of an "improving economy." The New York Times called the numbers "robust" and included a chart illustrating how the unemployment rate has steadily improved over the last three years:
The harsh jobs report criticism on Varney & Co. is perplexing, because Varney and Conway's statements came less than an hour after conservative economist Steve Moore called the November report "a good number," adding "everything I just heard I like a lot," on Fox Business' Mornings with Maria. The misleading criticism also came just minutes after Fox co-host Martha MacCallum and Fox Business correspondent Liz Claman discussed how "significant" the monthly figures were as proof of the strength of the overall economy on Fox News' America's Newsroom.
Fox personalities have a long history of downplaying the significance of positive employment figures. On the November 6 edition of Fox & Friends, co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a brief segment on BLS' October jobs report, which The Washington Post called "stellar," complaining that the economy created "only 271,000 jobs."
See the full segment from Varney & Co. below:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): I want to get to the jobs report. Not spectacular. I repeat, I think it's mediocre, 211,000 new jobs. Come on in Paul Conway, our Labor Department bulldog, if you don't mind me calling you that. You never call this a strong recovery. Are you sticking with that analysis after that number, 211,000 jobs?
PAUL CONWAY: I am. I mean context is important, so let's take a look at last year. The average growth last year per month for jobs was 260,000. So, 211,000, I think what we're doing is aggressively sustaining mediocrity. And I think it's important because I just don't think that those numbers are the ones that are required -- in the quality of jobs -- to pull people off the sidelines. This month, professional services are down. Manufacturing is down. We like the fact that construction is up. And health care, but you really need sustained growth across all sectors to bring more people in. That's something that Janet Yellen, I don't think, is on message with this week.
VARNEY: Comment please on what's called the U-6 number, which is often called the "real unemployment rate." It went up to 9.9 percent. The significance, please?
CONWAY: Sometimes you will see an uptick in unemployment numbers if more people are trying to join the workforce. But in this case, if you take a look back over the past many months, I still think that that number is a very disturbing number when you add it in with the labor force participation rate. Because basically what you're saying is, you've got millions of Americans in jobs where they want to work full-time and they can't, and millions of Americans who are working in part-time jobs who are just doing that to pay bills, and waiting for something to come up that aligns with talent and their education.
VARNEY: Alright, Paul Conway. Thank you very much indeed.
In a recent interview promoting his upcoming film, director Adam McKay lamented that media rarely discuss the pressing need for additional banking reforms in the wake of the financial crisis and Great Recession, singling out Fox News and wondering if the phrase "banking reform" had even been mentioned on the network this year. It hasn't been.
McKay chided media outlets for their unwillingness to discuss the pressing need for stronger banking and financial reforms during a December 2 interview with The Daily Beast about his new movie The Big Short, which details the build up of a credit and housing bubble during the Bush administration that imperiled the entire global economy (emphasis added):
More unbelievable is the fact that, just a few short years later, we've got not just one, but two Republican candidates in the presidential race with direct ties to bankruptcy kingpin Lehman Brothers -- Jeb Bush and John Kasich -- and yet, their ties to the financial crisis's biggest bank failure aren't being scrutinized as history threatens to repeat itself, McKay lamented.
"Nobody talks about that," McKay explained. "And not only are they not talking about banking reform, they're talking about getting rid of the little bit of banking reform we've got. If people really knew what that meant they would know that's insane. Fox News especially doesn't like to talk about banking reform. Never. It's actually amazing. I would be curious if, like, Media Matters did a minute count on the year, if they even said the phrase 'banking reform.'"
Media Matters analyzed all available transcripts from Fox News in 2015, and can confirm McKay's suspicion that "banking reform" was never referenced on the network. The phrase "bank reform" was also never said. "Financial reform" was mentioned on two editions of The O'Reilly Factor, by former Obama aide David Axelrod and former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), each time as part of a list of President Obama's accomplishments.
On dozens of other occasions, President Obama's signature financial reform law -- the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 -- was referenced on the network, usually disparagingly and often as part of a list of allegedly terrible things the Obama administration has done to the economy through over-regulation.
Fox News' sister network Fox Business also has not referenced "banking reform" this year. "Bank reform" has been mentioned on two programs, one of which was a reference to legislation passed by President Franklin Roosevelt. "Financial reform" has been mentioned four times, twice in reference to China. And the network has similarly mentioned the Dodd-Frank bill a few dozen times, often to attack it.
Media Matters conducted a Nexis and IQ Media search of transcripts from Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network from January 1, 2015 through December 1, 2015. We identified and reviewed all transcripts that included any of the following keywords: bank reform or banking reform or financial reform or dodd frank or dodd-frank.
*This blog has been updated for clarity
From the December 1 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
Loading the player reg...
From the December 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Loading the player reg...
A day after The Wall Street Journal attacked the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for attempting to rein in racial bias in auto loan practices, Politico questioned the agency for seeking advice from a consumer advocacy group that many media outlets -- including Politico -- frequently ask to comment on consumer issues.
On November 19, Politico questioned the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) supposedly "cozy" relationship with a consumer advocacy group after emails revealed the agency consulted with the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) on payday lending reforms. CRL is a leading source of research on the issue of payday loans; however the article misleadingly compared the CFPB consulting with a consumer advocacy nonprofit to the often nefarious "influence of big banks and lobbyists in writing legislation":
When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put out its proposal to overhaul payday lending rules in March, the move was cheered by consumer advocates as a much-needed crackdown on an industry that preys on the poor.
But the final product wasn't a surprise to at least one nonprofit group.
While Elizabeth Warren and other progressives decry the influence of big banks and lobbyists in writing legislation, in this instance, the agency created by Warren to protect consumers from abusive lending leaned heavily on consumer activists as it drafted regulations for the $46 billion payday loan industry. The Center for Responsible Lending spent hours consulting with senior Obama administration officials, giving input on how to implement the rule that would restrict the vast majority of short-term loans with interest rates often higher than 400 percent. The group regularly sent over policy papers, traded emails and met multiple times with top officials responsible for drafting the rule.
Politico's criticism comes a day after The Wall Street Journal's editorial board lambasted the agency for drafting guidelines on ending racial bias in auto lending, and advocated for legislation to slow the CFPB's consumer advocacy work.
Politico's false comparison that consumer watchdogs have the same pervasive effect as big banks on legislation and rulemaking fails to note that the Center for Responsible Lending is a well-respected resource on financial products and how these products affect consumers. In the last month, research from the CRL has been cited by a Yale professor in The New York Times, and appeared in articles in Time, The Atlantic and The Huffington Post. On November 19, The Washington Post's Dave Weigel took to Facebook to criticize Politico, explaining to readers that "the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending, which reporters who have covered any of this stuff recognize as a pretty above-board group that lobbies against predatory loan practices":
In 2009, the Center for Responsible Lending uncovered that 76 percent of the total volume of payday loans are borrowers taking out new loans to pay their existing loan. The CRL also reported that payday loan practices lead to $3.4 billion in excessive fees a year with over 75 percent of these fees generated by borrowers with more than 10 loans a year. The CRL and its sister non-profit -- the Self Help Credit Union -- use this research to advocate for lending practices that will end the perpetual payday loan cycle, saving low income Americans billions.
While Politico questioned why "CFPB requested data from the nonprofit on payday lenders 'to help focus these efforts,'" it failed to mention it has used reports and published comments from the Center for Responsible Lending on multiple occasions in relation to financial products and legislation. On October 29, Politico asked CRL's Maura Dundon to explain a financial ruling on student loans and, on October 16, quoted Dundon to emphasize the strength of a CFPB crackdown on for-profit colleges. In December of 2008, Politico reported on the CRL findings that minority homeowners were pushed into higher priced mortgage options:
Research by the Center for Responsible Lending, for instance, shows that African-American and Latino homeowners were often steered into subprime mortgages with hefty fees when their credit scores in fact qualified them for less expensive prime loans. Now those groups are experiencing some of the highest rates of foreclosure.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board championed a Republican-led effort to stop what it called an "outrageous regulatory campaign" by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which aims to facilitate compensation for Americans who may have been discriminated against by auto financing agreements that have been shown to charge higher interest rates to minority customers.
On November 17, The Wall Street Journal editorial board argued that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should face additional administrative hurdles before making new rules on auto financing, dismissing evidence from the CFPB demonstrating racial bias in auto lending and financing agreements. According to The Huffington Post, numerous public interest groups in the United States are opposed to this attack on the CFPB which would "make it easier for car dealerships to overcharge people of color" through an interest rate manipulation process known as "markups."
The CFPB was authorized to reduce consumer exploitation in areas of banking and credit under the Dodd-Frank Act and is the brainchild of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). In March 2013, CFPB drafted new guidance on interest rate markups to stop racial bias in lending, proposing that banks end the practice in favor of a flat fee service or follow strict rules to prevent prejudicial lending. The Center for Responsible Lending found that ending the markup practice and replacing it with a transaction fee would save all consumers money while still paying auto dealers for their financial services.
The Journal ignored all of this when it joined with anti-consumer advocates pushing for Congress to roll back the abilities of the CFPB to protect consumers from this predatory lending practice:
On Wednesday the House is expected to vote down the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's extralegal campaign against the nation's auto dealers. This is an important moment. Even Democrats are beginning to push back against the regulatory agenda crafted by President Obama and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Let's hope the dissident donkeys survive the experience. The consumer bureau has been forcing settlements on banks that provide financing via car dealers by claiming the dealers are discriminating with higher rates against minority borrowers. The bureau's standard procedure is not to offer evidence of bias. Instead, the regulators guess the ethnicity of borrowers based on their last names and where they live, and then demand cash payments if the people they guess are black or hispanic seem to be paying higher rates than the people they guess are white. Every time we write about this policy we have to remind ourselves we work for the Journal and not the Onion.
At the heart of the bureau's outrageous regulatory campaign is its March 2013 "bulletin" that effectively codified its policy against dealer discretion in setting interest rates. This Beltway diktat never went through the normal rule-making process.
But on Wednesday a bipartisan bill with 65 Democratic co-sponsors will come to the House floor. The measure would knock down this informal guidance and instruct the bureau to allow public comment and to publish its data and analysis online before issuing new rules on auto financing.
It would also require the bureau to study the costs of such a rule on various affected parties. Imagine that. As for the regulators, they've done enough imagining about this market. Let's hope next time they just stick to the facts.