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Dodd-Frank Overhaul: Concerns Raised in Mass. for Military

A new report raises concerns that consumer protections would be weakened for military families through a measure that just passed the U.S. House. (U.S. Air Force)
A new report raises concerns that consumer protections would be weakened for military families through a measure that just passed the U.S. House. (U.S. Air Force)
June 12, 2017

BOSTON – The Financial Choice Act aims to ease restrictions on the financial industry put in place through the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010.

But new research warns the measure, just approved by the U.S. House, would have a negative impact on the nation's military families.

The report, "Protecting Those Who Serve," says the bill weakens the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG), says it's no coincidence that payday lenders concentrate their offices around military bases in New England.

"We have less military bases, and we have consumer protection laws that are probably better than most of the country,” she explains. “However, there were still over 500 complaints by our veterans, here in Massachusetts."

Cummings says the Financial Choice Act makes it almost impossible for the CFPB to protect anyone, and that includes service members.

The U.S. House approved the bill last week on a vote of 223 to 186. Its supporters say it would remove barriers to economic growth for lenders.

Report co-author Ed Mierzwinski of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group says, along with the Frontier Group, PIRG analyzed 44,000 consumer grievances from active duty service members, veterans and their families.

PIRG found the most common complaint is pursuit by debt collectors, which for active duty military, has job related consequences.

"Admirals and generals have routinely and often said that a leading cause of losing a security clearance is a bad debt, or a wrong debt," Mierzwinski relates.

Loss of security clearance limits service members to lower level positions, hindering their ability to earn more money.

While the measure passed the House along party lines, it might not survive in the Senate, where lawmakers on the Banking Committee have shown interest in a smaller but similar bill.



Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA