Amid Health and Economic Crisis, Trump CFPB Solicits Industry Input for Taskforce Run By Guy Who Applauded Price-Gouging During Hurricane Katrina

Really? Now?

Washington D.C. – Apparently not even a pandemic and an economy in freefall is enough to keep Trump CFPB Kathy Kraninger from conducting her usual business of serving the interests of the financial industry at the expense of consumers. The CFPB issued a formal request today for input (RFI) from the public (READ: industry lobbyists) on what her highly secretive, industry-packed Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law should focus on as they consider which consumer protection laws to pick apart.

Meanwhile, Kraninger has not bothered to announce any major new efforts to fight financial scams as millions of Americans entered the ranks of the unemployed this week. The timing of Kraninger’s RFI request is certainly odd, but it’s the corporate consultant she put in charge of the Taskforce that is most concerning during this time of incredible economic uncertainty. Chairman Todd Zywicki has a history of supporting callous, anti-consumer policies over common sense safeguards.

Zywicki’s fringe-right policy views include opposing government crackdowns against price gouging during major disasters, including Hurricane Katrina — which put him at odds with even a conservative Texas Attorney General at the time, and even President Trump.

“Director Kraninger should ask her Taskforce Chairman if he still supports price-gouging during emergencies, like the one the entire nation faces right now,” said Allied Progress director Derek Martin. “This isn’t the time to engage in typical Bureau rulemaking or requests for comment directed at industry lobbyists. The bureau’s oversight and vigilance is needed now more than ever as consumers face incredible economic uncertainty. Director Kraninger should put consumers first and suspend her industry-driven pet project for the foreseeable future.” 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Cruelty Over Common Sense: Todd Zywicki’s Consumer Protection Agenda

Todd Zywicki Has Argued Anti-Price Gouging Efforts In The Wake Of Disasters Like Hurricane Katrina Are “Economic Folly” And Inflict “Man-Made Pain.”

In The Wake Of Hurricane Katrina, Todd Zywicki Described Anti-Price Gouging Measures In Georgia As “Economic Folly.”

Todd Zywicki Described Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue’s Order Prohibiting “‘Price-Gouging’” In The Wake Of Hurricane Katrina As “Economic Folly” And Said It Represented “Man-Made Pain.” “Lots of interesting commentary on the relationships between economic institutions and Katrina…And at least some neighboring states that were largely untouched by the natural disaster apparently feel obliged to inflict at least some of the man-made pain upon themselves. Georgia, for instance, has issued an executive order prohibiting ‘price-gouging’ by gas stations that ‘overcharge’ Georgia drivers. I assume that I need not belabor the economic folly of this sort of legislation for our readers (although imposing anti-gouging rules in a state that did not suffer the natural disaster does seem like a new level of political inspiration).” [Todd Zywicki, “Institutions and Katrina,” Volokh Conspiracy, 09/03/05]

The Governor of Georgia Had Issued An Emergency Order Suspending State Taxes On Gasoline In Response To A “Price Shock” In The Wake Of Hurricane Katrina. “Two days after metro Atlanta’s hurricane-induced rush on gasoline, the price shock steadied while retailers continued to struggle with dwindling supplies. Friday, Gov. Sonny Perdue attempted to temper prices by issuing an emergency order suspending state taxes on gas today through September. Perdue is calling legislators to Atlanta for a special session Tuesday to ratify his decision. Drivers could see a drop of 15 cents per gallon if market conditions remain the same and station owners use the savings to lower their prices. On Friday, several said they would.” [Matt Kempner and Stacy Shelton, “KATRINA AFTERMATH: Spotty gas supply to continue; Governor orders relief from taxes to cut prices,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 09/03/05]

President Trump Has Stated That His Administration “‘Want[s] To Prevent Price Gouging,’” And Signed An Executive Order Aimed At Doing So. 

On March 23, 2020, Donald Trump Stated At A Coronavirus Task Force Briefing, “‘We Want To Prevent Price Gouging And Critical Health And Medical Resources Are Going To Be Protected In Every Form.’” “‘We want to prevent price gouging and critical health and medical resources are going to be protected in every form. Under this directive the Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized to designate essential health and medical supplies as scarce, so he’ll designate certain supplies and medical elements as scarce, and that means it will be a crime to stockpile these items in excessive quantities, which is happening to a relatively small degree we think, but nevertheless, it’s happening.’” [“President Trump Holds Coronavirus Task Force Briefing,” C-SPAN, 03/23/20 (11:10)]

That Same Day, Donald Trump Signed An Executive Order “Aimed At Preventing Price Gouging And Hoarding Of Critical Medical Supplies Amid The Coronavirus Outbreak.” “President Trump signed an executive order Monday aimed at preventing price gouging and hoarding of critical medical supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak. Attorney General William Barr detailed the executive order at a White House briefing Monday evening, saying it would prohibit people from accumulating critical supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak in an effort to profit off of them.” [Morgan Chalfant, “Trump signs executive order to prevent price gouging, hoarding of medical supplies,” The Hill, 03/23/20]

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