Fred’s Focus: A $17 Billion Question

freds-focus-a-17-billion-question

I have a question for my old friends in the coal-mining towns of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Donald Trump wants to change Dodd-Frank and delay putting a fiduciary responsibility on banks managing the assets of retirees. He says he wants to do this to make it easier for average Americans, the people, to get loans and get good investment advice.

My question is this:

Just how stupid does he think we are?

Dodd-Frank was passed into law in 2009 after the worst recession since 1929 decimated American jobs and the home values of millions of Americans. The recession was caused by a staggering lack of regulation in our banking system, which had been fostered by Republicans in Congress and the executive branch going all the way back to Ronald Reagan. This lack of regulations resulted in wild speculation for obscene profits by the banks, to hell with the consequences. They took the money and ran, leaving normal Americans to foot the bill for their recklessness. Millions of Americans lost their jobs and their homes, and almost no one on Wall Street paid any price. Dodd-Frank was passed to prevent something like that from happening ever again.

Now Mr. Trump wants to make it easier for banks to do whatever they want, just like in the years before the crash.

And what does fiduciary responsibility mean? Simply that banks and financial advisors have to put your interests ahead of their profits when handling your money. You might assume that’s been a law for years, because it’s almost absurd that an advisor could legally give you bad advice just to fill his bank account, but that’s not the case. This rule was set to go into place in April this year, but now Trump is trying to delay and rewrite it.

Without the fiduciary rule, your financial advisor, the person you rely on to help you retire, could tank your retirement account while making himself piles of money, and it’s all perfectly legal. He may know investment product A is much better than investment product B, but he could recommend investment product B anyway because it pays him a higher commission.

This isn’t a small issue – the White House Council of Economic Advisors estimated that conflicts of interest cost people saving for retirement up to $17 billion each year. How much of that was your money?

It’s bad enough Trump wants to let Wall Street run wild and risk our hard-earned savings again. But I can’t believe he has the nerve to tell us that this decision is about helping everyday Americans when the same people responsible for the last financial crisis are standing behind him smiling.

Come on Mr. Trump.

Don’t expect us to fall for your lame excuses, they just insult our intelligence.

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