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Many changes proposed by the Biden administration will affect consumers

Consumer advocates like what they see so far

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Photo (c) iluhanos - Getty Images
The incoming Biden administration has signaled many policy changes that it plans to make in the days ahead, and many will affect consumers. Most have drawn applause from consumer advocates.

“Our administration will hit the ground running to deliver immediate, urgent relief to Americans; confront the overlapping crises of COVID-19, the historic economic downturn, systemic racism and inequality, and the climate crisis; and get this government working for the people it serves,” Pres-elect Joe Biden said in a statement shortly before his inauguration. 

“These tireless public servants will be a key part of our agenda to build back better — and I am confident they will help make meaningful change and move our country forward.”

Among the highest-profile initiatives, Biden has said he wants to send every American an additional $1,400 to supplement the $600 contained in the end-of-the-year stimulus bill. However, he will need the cooperation of Congress to do that.

Executive orders

But there are plenty of changes Biden can make through executive orders, just as his predecessor did. Biden has already announced that he plans to nationalize the COVID-19 vaccine rollout with the goal of vaccinating 100 million people in the first 100 days of his administration.

Another big change from the past four years may come in the form of financial regulation. Biden has tapped Rohit Chopra, the former student loan ombudsman for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), to be that agency’s executive director.

Chopra, who is a current commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is a close ally of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and consumer advocates were quick to applaud the choice.

“Consumers can rest just a little bit easier knowing that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will not just be on their side, but aggressively establishing rules to stop ripoffs and enforcing the rules against financial cheats and scamsters,” Public Citizen said in a statement.

Big changes

Democrats have been highly critical of the GOP's management of the CFPB, claiming it has failed to properly protect the financial interests of Americans. Ashley Harrington, senior counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending, foresees big changes at the agency.

“Commissioner Chopra has long fought for financial markets that are fair for consumers, including student loan borrowers,” Harrington said. “We are encouraged that the CFPB will now return to its mission of protecting people’s finances, which has heightened significance in this economic downturn, and which includes a strong fair lending program.

Some of Biden’s other appointments have also signaled a shift in emphasis. During her confirmation hearing this week to become Treasury Secretary, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told lawmakers that her emphasis would be on workers. She will replace Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, a former investment banker.

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