Offerman: How Griffith could put country above party

Offerman is a retired consultant, facilitator, and trainer. She and her husband have lived in Salem since 2014.

Dear Morgan Griffith:

All Americans, regardless of political party, are concerned about their own financial well-being and the health of the financial system they are leaving their children. In other words, their pocketbooks. As a Ninth District resident, I am calling on you to help protect the financial health of the district and the country and to help ensure our continuing recovery from the financial turmoil that erupted in the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

How do I suggest you do that? I suggest you resist the retrograde goals of the Trump agenda and ask yourself before every vote: “Party aside, will my intended vote truly help the pocketbooks of Virginians and of all ordinary Americans, now and in the long-run?”

In your response to the president’s address to the joint Chambers of Congress, you said that you agreed with the vision the president laid out, and with the president’s goals, “… to fulfill America’s potential and to help Americans in need.” Now, these are just superficial statements — sunny, rosy, nice to hear clichés — until you dig into what they might really mean for Virginians and, indeed, for all ordinary Americans.

In February, the president signed the “Executive Order on Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System.” It called for huge reductions of regulations and asked for a special briefing on how to streamline financial regulations. Clearly, one of the paths this president sees to fulfilling America’s potential is through deregulation of the financial sector, gutting those restrictions that were put in place specifically to avoid recreating the conditions that had caused the Great Recession.

This might be good for the president himself and for the billionaires in his cabinet; but, Griffith, I want you to ask yourself, “Party aside, will weakening financial regulations truly help the pocketbooks of Virginians and of all ordinary Americans, now and in the long-run?”

One specific target of the financial regulation streamlining that the president wants, is the relaxation or elimination of all or parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The provisions of this law are intended to protect consumers from the sub-prime mortgage lending, aggressive credit card marketing, and predatory investment practices that helped to cause the financial crisis. The new Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, for seventeen years was an investment banker and CIO at Goldman Sachs, one of the Wall Street firms that created some of those predatory practices and that emerged unscathed from the crisis, even as thousands of ordinary borrowers across the country defaulted on their mortgages and/or declared bankruptcy. Virginia’s own foreclosure rate was sixteenth in the nation in 2009, as reported by RealtyTrac.

Griffith, before voting to relax Dodd-Frank, please ask yourself: “Will voting to relax Dodd-Frank truly help the pocketbooks of Virginians and of all ordinary Americans, now and in the long-run?”

Within Dodd-Frank, some lawmakers are already taking aim at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Weakening or eliminating the CFPB would, indeed, provide banks and other financial institutions with the ability to market more aggressively, leading to increased moneymaking opportunities for them. On the other side, however, the risk is that consumers would become vulnerable to the deceptive practices observed in the past, while at the same time having fewer protections at their disposal.

So, Griffith, before voting to weaken or eliminate the CFPB, please ask yourself: “Will voting to weaken or eliminate the CFPB truly help the pocketbooks of Virginians and of all ordinary Americans, now and in the long-run?”

Thank you for your attention and for seriously considering my request to rise above party politics to put the welfare of the citizens first.

[Copyright By Chandlee Offerman]

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