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Chris Arnold

A powerful banking regulator appointed by President Trump could face tough questions in a Senate hearing Thursday about his efforts to allow big banks to make small, high-interest, short-term loans to consumers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continues to come under fire by the man running the watchdog agency — Mick Mulvaney, the interim director appointed by President Trump.

In his latest action, Mulvaney moved on Wednesday to effectively dismantle the agency's consumer advisory council. "It's quite clear that we've been fired," said Kathleen Engel, a law professor at Suffolk University and a member of the CFPB's Consumer Advisory Board.

Updated at 10:26 a.m. ET

As the country has clawed its way back from the worst recession in generations, companies have been creating plenty of jobs. Employers added another 223,000 positions last month alone, the Labor Department said Friday. And the unemployment rate ticked down to 3.8 percent, the lowest since 2000, from April's 3.9 percent.

Updated at 5:44 p.m. ET

The House voted Tuesday to ease rules for midsize and regional banks in what is considered the largest undoing to date of banking rules put in place in the wake of the financial crisis. The vote was 258-159.

The Senate has already approved the bill that would allow banks with up to $250 billion in assets to escape some of the toughest rules put in place by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 to shore up the banking system. President Trump could sign the bill as early as this week.

Updated at 1:05 p.m. ET

It's a financial nightmare for public school teachers across the country: Federal grants they received to work in low-income schools were converted to thousands of dollars in loans that they now must pay back.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren sent a letter to the Trump administration's top consumer protection official late Thursday asking him whether he is doing the bidding of the industries he is supposed to be policing.

The move was in response to remarks about lobbyists made earlier this week by the acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney.

Earlier this week, Mulvaney told a group of bankers and lobbyists that when he was a Republican congressman he would only talk to lobbyists who gave money to his election campaign.

When a consumer has a complaint about a bank, whether it's dealing with a mortgage or a credit card, right now there's a place to lodge that complaint online.

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An epic throw-down happened Thursday on Capitol Hill over the role of the federal government. The topic: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency created in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis.

On one side was the Trump administration's acting director, Mick Mulvaney, who believes the bureau's powers are excessive and unchecked. On the other was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who led the creation of the bureau to protect consumers from abuses by everything from big banks to student loan providers to fly-by-night loan sharks.

Updated at 4:27 p.m. ET

Fear and uncertainty over a growing trade dispute with China continued to weigh on investors Wednesday, with markets opening sharply lower before recovering by early afternoon.

The major U.S. indexes — the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq — all fell more than 1 percent in morning trading but rebounded to close higher. The Dow Jones industrial average finished the day up 231 points, or 1 percent, and the S&P 5oo closed up 1.1 percent.

The Trump administration will ask Congress to make drastic changes to weaken the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, NPR has learned.

Sources familiar with the matter tell NPR that the CFPB's interim director, Mick Mulvaney, will ask lawmakers to restructure the bureau in his upcoming semi-annual report to Congress. The sources asked not to be named, because they aren't authorized to speak on the matter. The bureau officially announced the move Monday afternoon, after this story first published.

America needs teachers committed to working with children who have the fewest advantages in life. So for a decade the federal government has offered grants — worth up to $4,000 a year — to standout college students who agree to teach subjects like math or science at lower-income schools.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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The Trump administration is proposing to dramatically cut funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a move critics say is an ongoing assault on the 7-year-old agency.

The bureau was championed by Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats and created in the wake of the financial crisis to protect Americans from getting ripped off by financial firms.

Updated at 5:53 p.m. ET

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created after the financial crisis to protect Americans from being ripped off by financial firms.

Now, President Trump's interim appointee to run the bureau, Mick Mulvaney, is making radical changes to deter the agency from aggressively pursuing its mission.

Payday lenders appear to have a powerful friend in Washington.

Former Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney is the interim head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He was appointed by President Trump amid an ongoing a power struggle for control of the bureau.

In the world of streaming workout videos, Shawn T is like Jay-Z or Mick Jagger. He's a superstar. Millions of people have done his workout programs. One is called "Insanity." Another, "Focus T25," aims to get you in shape in just 25 minutes a day without leaving your house.

In our ever more digital world there are all kinds of apps and other quick ways to fit fitness into your life. But you still have to do the exercise. And in his new book, T is for Transformation, Shaun T tells the story of his life and the lessons he's learned about finding that motivation.

The week after Christmas is usually a short and slow one for town officials in New Paltz, N.Y. — but not this time.

"When we opened town hall Wednesday we had almost 100 voicemails from people inquiring about how they could prepay their taxes," says Daniel Torres, the town's deputy supervisor.

And the phones kept ringing. People started lining up. Torres says the clerk's office has a only few people working in it.

"The clerk's office was so overrun. After a certain while we couldn't even pick up the phones anymore," he says.

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Updated at 12:01 ET Nov. 16

There are a lot of anxious graduate students at universities around the country right now.

That's because to help pay for more than $1 trillion in tax cuts for U.S. corporations, the House Republican tax plan would raise taxes on grad students in a very big way. These students make very little money to begin with. And many would have to pay about half of their modest student stipends in taxes.

This past spring, David Mifflin looked at his credit report online and saw that something wasn't right.

There were inquiries from Chase Bank about an application for a credit card that someone was trying to open in his name. Mifflin, who lives in San Antonio, says he called the bank and was told the identity thieves "had my Social Security number."

He set up fraud alerts with the three major credit reporting companies. But he says the fraudulent attempts to open credit cards continued "multiple times a week, multiple times a day."

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The embattled company Equifax is having even more trouble with hackers. Now the company has had to take down one of its web pages after it was reported to be prompting people to download malicious software. NPR's Chris Arnold has more.

Former Equifax CEO Richard Smith, who stepped down just last week, faced a roomful of angry senators and some tough questions at a hearing Wednesday. It was the second of three congressional hearings he is testifying in front of this week.

Republicans and Democrats alike are upset about the massive hack of Social Security numbers and other sensitive information at the consumer credit reporting company.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Americans owe more than ever before, with household debt hitting a record of nearly $13 trillion. And auto loans, home loans and credit card debt are all still on the rise, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

That has some economists saying the lessons of the bubble of borrowing in the run-up to the Great Recession have already been forgotten.

The Trump administration on Wednesday will start to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. And despite very tough talk about NAFTA during the campaign, it appears the administration has backed away from a major assault on the decades-old trade deal.

And that is a relief to businesses in all three countries.

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump clearly tapped into frustration about workers who had lost jobs in manufacturing. And he painted NAFTA as one of the central villains responsible for stealing Americans jobs.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STACEY VANEK SMITH, HOST:

Every day, more than 10 Americans suffer amputations on what is by far the most dangerous woodworking tool: the table saw. Regulators in Washington, D.C., are moving closer to adopting a rule that would make new saws so much safer that they could prevent 99 percent of serious accidents.

Wells Fargo is back in the spotlight for another scandal. This time, for signing up 490,000 auto-loan customers for insurance they didn't need.

This comes less than a year after the bank generated a massive public outcry for opening millions of unwanted accounts for customers.

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