trevor thomas for michigan third congressional district

Democrat Trevor Thomas for Michigan’s 3rd District Democrat Trevor Thomas for Congress Barry - Calhoun - Ionia - Kent - Montcalm

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Trevor's Plan

A Plan for West Michigan by Democrat Trevor Thomas

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III. A Michigan for Us All

Fight for Consumers

1. Level the Playing Field for Community Banks and Pay for the Big Bank Bailout

I support making the big banks that got us into the recent financial crisis pay a “responsibility fee.” During the 2008 financial crisis and over the ensuing months and years, taxpayers bailed out America’s largest financial institutions, lending them billions at negligible interest rates and providing them a lifeline because they were supposedly “too big to fail.” At the same time, hundreds of other banks across the country were closing up shop and many of our country’s smaller regional banks and credit unions were taken over by the FDIC and shut down. It became evident that there was a double standard: big banks can rely on taxpayers to bail them out, while community banks are on their own. To level the playing field, I support the Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee that President Obama proposed in 2010, but that has not yet been enacted. The fee would apply only to major financial institutions with more than $50 billion in assets - the ones that the government stepped in to help. It would recover the cost of the TARP bailout for our taxpayers.

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2. Bolster Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

I will work to make sure that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has the legislative and financial support it needs. The CFPB is empowered to oversee the financial industry and ensure fair play and transparency by the banks. Following the 2008 financial crisis, at a time when so many Americans were, through no fault of their own, struggling to stay afloat, the big banks continued to reap profits as a result of weak consumer protections in the financial industry. Hidden fees, hard-to-understand contracts, and shifting terms on credit cards, mortgage loans, and even checking accounts made it impossible for consumers to know just where the banks were going to hit them next. The CFPB has the tools to stand up for consumers, but, incredibly, Republicans in Congress, under heavy influence by banking industry lobbyists, have stood against the CFPB from the get-go. Congressional Republicans have additionally attempted to undermine the CFPB with legislation that would handcuff the agency and hand vast authority back to the same discredited regulators who failed to curb financial industry abuses before, during, or following the financial crisis. I oppose any such measures.

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3. Get Serious About Reducing Foreclosures

I will fight for measures to reduce foreclosures by curbing servicer abuses and by ensuring that qualified homeowners are offered the relief they need to prevent foreclosures. Foreclosures are bad for the entire community, not just the families losing their homes - neighbors’ home values go down, tenants may lose their leased space, and communities are sapped of their vitality. A single foreclosed home can decrease nearby home values by thousands of dollars, and foreclosed homes are too often abandoned, falling in to disrepair and blighting the entire neighborhood. For this reason, foreclosures should always be a last resort when a homeowner becomes delinquent. Yet, mortgage servicers have too often abused the foreclosure process. I will work to make sure that federal policy is aimed at discouraging foreclosures as anything but a last resort, so that we can protect West Michigan’s neighborhoods from the damage done by unnecessary foreclosures.

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4. Combat Speculation that Drives Up Prices for Consumers

I support recent initiatives put forth by the Obama administration to provide additional resources to suppress fraud and market manipulation in oil and other commodities markets. Speculators drive up the prices of commodities, including oil, by creating artificial shortages and demand in the markets that allows them to make a quick profit. Our small businesses and consumers are hurt when unchecked market speculation results in fluctuating prices on vital commodities including food and oil. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission should publish rules to curb speculation. Further, additional resources should be provided to improve surveillance technology and provide additional staffing needed to effectively police commodity markets.

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5. Protect Our Children from Harmful Substances

The 1976 law regulating toxic chemicals in consumer products and building materials has inadequately protected American families from health and environmental risks. I support reforms to protect Americans, including pregnant mothers and children who are especially vulnerable to exposure to carcinogens and other harmful substances like asbestos. Even the chemical industry agrees that the law needs to be modernized. I also support incentives to prompt American manufacturers to develop new, safer chemicals. I will support these efforts to protect our children from harmful substances and to innovate for safer consumer products.

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