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Americans Favor Retaining Rule to Preserve Legal Rights Against Big Banks

Association with Equifax Makes Forced Arbitration Issue Completely “Toxic”

WASHINGTON – A new poll commissioned by the American Future Fund shows that Americans, including Republicans and conservatives, overwhelmingly favor retaining a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule preserving the right to join in class action lawsuits to fight financial institution abuses.

Support for the rule, which is in danger of being reversed by Congress, skyrocketed when voters learned it addresses a tactic credit-reporting giant Equifax attempted to use to block consumer lawsuits relating to massive security lapses. That data breach and the use of forced arbitration by Equifax and other financial institutions has been on display during hearings this week on Capitol Hill.

The national survey by the Republican polling organization American Viewpoints of 800 likely voters (margin of error +/- 3.5%), conducted October 1-3, 2017, showed:

  • 67 percent of all those surveyed favored preserving the CFPB rule, compared to just 13 percent opposed.
  • Republicans favored retaining the rule by 64 percent to 21 percent
  • Independents favored retaining the rule by 67 percent to 17 percent
  • Democrats favored retaining the rule by 73 percent to 15 percent.

Class action lawsuits – which allow consumers to band together in court to more effectively police abusive activity like Equifax’s systematic carelessness or Wells Fargo’s large-scale opening of unauthorized accounts – are barred by hidden forced arbitration clauses in most financial services agreements.  Strikingly, when told that Equifax was one of the companies that had used forced arbitration clauses to limit consumer access to the legal system, the share of those supporting the rule skyrocketed to 75 percent.

Yet a resolution of disapproval to overturn the CFPB rule under the Congressional Review Act has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives, with the Senate expected to take up the measure soon.

Nick Ryan, Founder, American Future Fund, stated, “With the news of Equifax’s attempt to use forced arbitration to dodge accountability to consumers for its epic negligence, the forced arbitration rule has graduated from political poison to full-scale toxic sludge.  Which means it’s becoming ever-clearer that to maintain their political health, Senate Republicans need to distance themselves from efforts to reverse the CFPB rule on forced arbitration.“

Added Ryan, “Moreover, voters across the political spectrum recognize that preserving everyday Americans’ day in court in the face of systematic abuses by Big Banks is not only the right thing to do, it’s the conservative thing to do and the smart thing to do.  After all, the Founders were so concerned with ensuring equal access to justice for all citizens that they embedded the principle in the Constitution in the form of the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial.”

The American Future Fund, which operates as a 501(c)(4) organization, is a national issues advocacy group providing Americans a voice to support conservative and free market ideals. Other conservative, libertarian, military and veterans groups have also come out in support of preserving the rule.

Contact: Stuart Roy (202) 731-7091

What Others Are Saying About Preserving The Rule on Forced Arbitration

The U.S. Senate is considering a Resolution of Disapproval to overturn a recently issued Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) rule protecting the rights of consumers to band together to hold big financial players like Wells Fargo and Equifax accountable for abusive behavior.

Here’s what conservatives, veterans and military groups are saying about the efforts to allow Big Banks and other financial giants to take away this right via forced arbitration clauses buried in consumer agreements:

“The GOP would be terribly foolish to go down this road, for three reasons. Forced arbitration is: 1) unconscionable, 2) unconstitutional and 3) a big political loser…. The rule is designed to protect the little guy from big business…. I don’t think they have the votes to kill the rule anymore in the wake of Equifax.”  Dean Clancy, policy consultant, former VP, FreedomWorks (Huffington Post,)

“(E)xempting class-action lawsuits from forced arbitration rules is actually a small-government approach, allowing groups of affected consumers to target real lawbreakers – and thereby eliminate the need for other, truly burdensome industrywide government regulations and compliance costs.”  Nick Ryan, Founder, American Future Fund (Investors’ Business Daily)

“Our membership has stated unequivocally that we will not accept a future where our military veterans’ financial protections are chipped away to increase the margins of the financial sector.”  John Kamin assistant director of the American Legion’s Veterans Employment & Education Division. (Roll Call)

 

 “(A)rbitration hearings, in rendering consumers virtually defenseless, seem indeed to be the 21st century version of Star Chambers.” Colin Hanna, Let Freedom Ring (Washington Examiner)

“Since Wells Fargo – and other ginormous corporations who have ‘forced arbitration’ clauses buried in the fine print of their own adhesion contracts – (are) infringing upon the constitutional rights of Americans, then a conservative case can be made that it’s proper for the government to step in and protect our individual rights.” Chuck Muth, President, Citizen Outreach (The Daily Caller)

“The Republicans may be chomping at the bit to abolish the CFPB and they may be right, but as the old saying goes, ‘A broken clock is right twice a day.’ This time the CFPB is right and the Republicans should stand on the side of American citizens and protect the Constitution and the Seventh Amendment.”  Judson Phillips, Founder, Tea Party Nation (The Washington Times)

 

AFF Forced Arb. National Survey Oct17 Presentation