House hearing on the economic impact of 'Washington red tape'.

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On April 8, the House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing titled "Who's In your Wallet: Examining How Washington Red Tape Impairs Economic Freedom." There was one panel called to testify and panelists were all general counsels (or in one case a chief counsel) from federal financial services regulatory agencies.

The hearing was designed to examine the economic consequences of recent rulemaking, supervisory and enforcement actions of the primary financial services industry regulatory bodies. A committee memorandum stated that the "hearing will examine how federal financial regulatory agencies evaluate the costs and benefits to consumers of their regulatory, enforcement and supervisory actions."

The committee wanted to examine whether certain products and services were no longer being offered to consumers because of agency actions and how agencies track the impact of the loss of those products and services on consumers.

The hearing brought before the committee a panel of five senior representatives from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Reserve Board, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

In his opening statement, Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) made it clear he didn't bring the witnesses up on Capitol Hill for a happy-talk session. He said, "Clearly the evidence continues to mount and cannot be conveniently swept under the rug. It is time for all to take off partisan blinders and acknowledge the truth that Washington regulators aren't always right and more red tape is not always the solution to every problem. It is time to hold Washington accountable."

Hensarling said, "Many Democrats have harshly criticized cost-benefit analysis. Looking at the pluses and minuses of a rule, the impact on jobs, asking the question whether a rule on balance helps or harms hardworking, struggling American families. The Ranking Member, for example, declared that legislation requiring cost-benefit analysis is 'dangerous.' I believe what is 'dangerous' is sweeping under the rug the mounting evidence that many rules promulgated under Dodd-Frank [Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection] Act ... are harming consumers."

Referencing the Qualified Mortgage (QM) rule specifically, the chairman said, "The Federal Reserve now reports that one-third of black and Hispanic borrowers would be hurt by the Qualified...

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