The Senate voted 50-50 to nullify a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule facilitating consumer lawsuits against big banks and credit card companies. Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie, presumably with glee.
As explained by The Los Angeles Times, the rule would have banned provisions “that block consumers from banding together to bring class-action cases. The CFPB argued that such cases help hold banks accountable.” Banks like Wells Fargo tend to insert strict arbitration clauses in contracts, a practice that reliably favors corporations rather than individual consumers. “The private proceedings also allow banks to deal with individual problems quietly rather than address widespread abuses,” the Times adds.
The vote is, to quote Elizabeth Warren, “a big wet kiss to Wall Street.” Which is precisely why all but two Republicans voted to kill the rule. Last night’s vote is a reminder that Republicans aren’t going to be the allies of Democrats in any meaningful sense. They may criticize Trump out loud or, like Jeff Flake, resign with a flounce. But the party is not going to start protecting consumer rights.
Of particular interest is the fact that veterans’ groups, including the conservative American Legion, supported the rule and vehemently opposed attempts to kill it. The GOP’s vaunted troop fetish has always been situational at best. Tuesday night’s vote cut through that rhetoric, revealing how superficial it really is. There’s nothing a human being can accomplish or sacrifice to convince the Republican Party to consider his rights above Wells Fargo’s profit margin.