FSC Majority | Week in ReviewPosted by Staff on May 02, 2014
Committee Holds SEC Accountable
On Tuesday, the full committee held an oversight hearing with SEC Chair Mary Jo White to discuss the Commission's agenda, operations, and 2015 budget.
"The SEC’s budget has grown substantially in recent years. In fact, the SEC’s budget has increased by 80 percent in the last 10 years and by nearly 300 percent since the year 2000. I again note that when my Democratic colleagues were in the majority even after the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act, they never called for the dramatic budget increases they call for now," said Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX).
"Not many other agencies throughout the entirety of the Federal Government have seen such hefty budget increases during this same period of time. I don’t know many constituents in Texas’s Fifth Congressional District -- that I have the honor of representing -- whose family budget has seen an 80 percent increase in the last 10 years. In addition, as we see the national debt clock regrettably continually turn at the pace we have observed, this is something that must loom large over all of our budgetary decisions," he said.
During the hearing, Members also questioned Chair White regarding market structure and high frequency trading. In response to a question from Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises, Chair White said, "the markets are not rigged."
On 20-0 Vote, Subpoenas Approved in Investigation of CFPB
Republicans and Democrats on the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee voted 20-0 to subpoena two CFPB officials and a union representative as part of its ongoing investigation into allegations of discrimination and retaliation at the Bureau.
The CFPB and the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) did not allow the officials to appear as witnesses at a subcommittee hearing on April 2. At that hearing, CFPB employee and whistleblower Angela Martin and Misty Raucci, an outside investigator hired by the CFPB, described a culture of racial and gender discrimination and retaliation against employees at the CFPB.
CFPB Director Richard Cordray refused to allow Stacey Bach, Assistant Director of the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity, and Liza Strong, Director of Employee Relations, to testify at the April 2 hearing. A third official, Ben Konop, the executive vice president of the CFPB employees’ union, was also not allowed to testify by the union. All three were subpoenaed today.
“Unfortunately, the CFPB and the NTEU refused to provide the requested witnesses to testify at the April 2 hearing. And yet, we maintain it is imperative that we are able to question Ms. Bach, Ms. Strong, and Mr. Konop. Through our investigation, it has become quite clear to this Subcommittee that they are the three individuals with the most knowledge of the disturbing treatment which women and minority employees were subjected to while at the Bureau,” said Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC).
Subcommittee Examines How Technology Can Promote Consumer Financial Literacy
On Wednesday, the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the impact of technology on promoting consumer financial literacy.
"In 2012, the Government Accountability Office released a report that provided an overview of the federal government’s activities and programs to promote financial literacy. They found 13 different programs, operated by 13 different agencies, spent approximately $31 million dollars on financial literacy efforts in 2010. The report also found that there was significant overlap among these agencies and recommended consolidation of the federal government’s to promote financial literacy. Furthermore, the GAO found that there was no mechanism to evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts," said Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Chairman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
The subcommittee heard from private-sector witnesses who have successfully developed mobile applications and other programs to promote financial literacy.
Subcommittee Continues Efforts to Spur Economic Growth and Job Creation
On Thursday, the Capital Markets and Government Sponsored Enterprises Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss legislative proposals to enhance capital formation and spur job creation.
"Thanks in large part to the JOBS Act, 2013 was the best year for initial public offerings since 2000, with more than 175 IPOs raising over $40 billion in much-needed growth capital. At least 80% of these companies qualified as Emerging Growth Companies under the JOBS Act. While this is a very positive development, more work needs to be done" said Subcommittee Chairman Scott Garrett (R-NJ).
"According to one small business survey, government regulation and red tape remain at the very top of the list of the most important problems facing America’s job creators. Another survey shows that small business demand for private capital continued to outpace access in 2013, while at least 60% of respondents found it difficult to raise new external financing," he said.
The subcommittee focused on three discussion draft bills: the Equity Crowdfunding Improvement Act of 2014, the Startup Capital Modernization Act of 2014, and a bill to direct the Securities and Exchange Commission to revise its proposed amendments to Regulation D, Form D, and Rule 156.
Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) | House Passes Volcker Rule Fix
Rep. Andy Barr (R., Ky.), said a small bank in his district feared a loss if it has to sell its CLO holdings at below their current value. “The consequence will be a fire sale in the market that will cause significant losses,” he said Tuesday on the House floor.
Weekend Must Reads
National Review | Consumer Finance Protection Bureau: Hotbed of Discrimination?
Furthermore, the CFPB has been accused of actual disparate treatment race discrimination. One CFPB attorney testified before the House Financial Services Committee regarding her experience, stating that since her arrival at the CFPB in June 2011, she hasn’t received a single case or enforcement matter, despite a successful legal career prior to arriving at the Bureau. She further alleges she was retaliated against after she filed an EEO complaint, and described the Bureau as having a “culture of retaliation and intimidation.” The investigator assigned to the complaint testified that she ”became a veritable hotline for employees at CFPB, who called to discuss their own maltreatment at the Bureau.” The investigator also found that the complainant was, in fact, retaliated against after filing her EEO complaint.
Wall Street Journal | The Growth Deficit
The biggest current obstacles are the regulatory burdens still moving through the economy from Dodd-Frank, ObamaCare, and the rest of the damage from the Pelosi Congress. Hard to believe, but Dodd-Frank is only half implemented.