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Waters Warns of Risks to Financial Stability, Consumer Protection and American Freedoms under Trump

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Washington, DC, November 15, 2016 | comments

In her opening statement at a full committee hearing with Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, denounced President-elect Trump’s stances on financial services and Congressional Republicans’ deregulatory Wall Street agenda.

“The demise of the regulations that Wall Street is cheering are the very regulations that have made our consumers, investors and economy safer and more resilient.” Waters said. “We are facing uncertain times, and at the forefront of that uncertainty is a President-elect who does not have a coherent or consistent stance on anything.”

Waters also called on Chair White to impart the need for a well-funded SEC and strong investor protections, and derided Republicans for years of budget cuts despite the Commission’s crucial role policing our financial markets.

In her questions for Chair White, Waters pointed out that the Chair was lead counsel on defending a reporter against defamation claims made by President-elect Trump, who ultimately was found to have lied himself.

“I expect him to continue these distortions, only now our nation is at stake,” Waters said. “And when he is a thin-skinned bully, I hope he doesn’t lash out on the freedom of the press or on peaceful protestors. But we stand ready to protect our sacred American freedoms, and will hold him accountable, starting with this Committee.”

The full text of Waters’ statement, as prepared for delivery, is below:

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you Chair White for being here today. I am truly disheartened to hear that you will be stepping down, Chair White, considering there is so much at stake and so much to fight for.

I am also appalled that the reaction on Wall Street to Tuesday’s election is record highs for bank stocks as the industry rallies on the news of a massive, destabilizing lawless agenda. But let me be clear. Short-lived increases in the stock market are not the same as real, hard-earned economic growth. And the demise of the regulations that Wall Street is cheering are the very regulations that have made our consumers, investors and economy safer and more resilient. In fact, just yesterday Wells Fargo’s stock closed at the highest price this year on the expectation that a Trump administration and Republican Congress will erase its culpability.

Indeed, we are facing uncertain times, and at the forefront of that uncertainty is a President-elect who does not have a coherent or consistent stance on anything. We don’t know if he’s building a wall or just a fence. We don’t know if he’s repealing Obamacare or cherry picking some provisions that he now seems to support. We don’t know who he is, what he stands for, or what kind of president he will be. We cannot rely on anything he says because it changes from one day to the next.

So when Mr. Trump talks about financial services reform and dismantling Dodd-Frank, what does he mean? Does he mean letting the Wall Street banks he’s so indebted to write their own rules? Does it mean repealing the fair housing laws the Department of Justice sued him over decades ago? Does he want to repeal investor protections and make it harder for the SEC to go after bad actors? Does he want to gut the Consumer Financial Protect Bureau, despite the agency being the strongest champion of every day consumers?

Or does he mean breaking up the banks by reinstating Glass-Steagall? In that regard, I’m sure we could find some common ground. Does he mean closing the carried interest loophole and ensuring that private equity fund and hedge fund managers pay the same taxes that every day Americans pay? Will he pay the same taxes that every day Americans pay? I am curious to see how Republicans in Congress react to this wide-ranging, at times progressive, agenda.

Mr. Trump said he is not beholden to Wall Street and other special interests. Yet here he is, with rumored appointments of Wall Street insiders and their friends in Congress to run his administration.

Mr. Trump also said he wants “urban renewal” and to ensure that African Americans have access to loans to start small businesses and get mortgages. Yet he appoints a leader of the white nationalist movement as his chief strategist in the White House, and he himself has made racist, misogynist and xenophobic comments.

Chair White, even though you are about to leave, I hope you will share with this Committee and the incoming administration the important role the SEC plays in our financial system. I hope you will explain the importance of a well-funded cop on the securities beat and strong investor protections. The SEC has been the victim of woefully inadequate budgets as a result of Republican obstructionism for years, despite the crucial role that the SEC plays policing our ever-expanding financial markets.

We are now at a crossroads where Wall Street is poised to profit off of American consumers and investors. If we enact these special interest wish lists or if the SEC weakens its rules at the expense of the greater good, our economy will go right back to the darkest days of the financial crisis. I hope that common sense will prevail.

Thank you, I yield back.

Ranking Member Waters’ full line of questioning can also be read below:

Mr. Chairman, I'd like to ask unanimous consent to enter into the record a story from the Washington Post from August 10th of 2016.
This story, for those of you unfamiliar, recounts a legal deposition from late 2007.

Donald Trump had sued a New York Times reporter for defamation, alleging that the reporter lied in his book about Trump’s net worth and his general lack of success in business – something we know Trump is very sensitive about.

Now, because Trump sued the reporter, it allowed the reporter’s lawyers to get access to Trump’s business documents. As the Post story documents, through the defamation trial of this reporter, it became clear that it was Trump that was guilty of the lying.

In fact, the reporter’s lawyers caught him in lies thirty separate times.

He lied about sales levels in his condo buildings.

He lied about how much it cost to join his golf clubs.

He lied about his amount of debt.

He lied about his number of employees.

He lied about how much he was paid to give a speech at the Learning Annex, overstating the payment by one and a half times.

He lied about needing to borrow money from his rich dad.

And he tried to pin the blame for some of the lies on a co-author of one of his books.

He lied about facts that were simple to disprove – things easily verifiable by searching documents and public records.

Now, this lawsuit that Trump leveled against the reporter was thrown out by the judge, and was denied an appeal. So there was justice in this case. But this man is now unfortunately our President-elect. And I expect him to continue these distortions; only now our nation is at stake. And when he is a thin-skinned bully, I hope he doesn’t lash out on the freedom of the press or on peaceful protestors. But we stand ready to protect our sacred American freedoms, and will hold him accountable, starting with this Committee.

Chair White, I bring all of this up because you were the lawyer in the 2007 case that helped depose Mr. Trump and expose all of these lies. This deposition I mentioned is part of the public record. So is the Washington Post story true? Did Mr. Trump really systemically misstate, invent and lie about business information? And was his lawsuit ultimately thrown out by the judge on the case?

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