Consumer advocates who specialize in everything from finance to telecommunications are gathering in Washington, D.C. this week to plot how to resist Trump Administration moves they say weaken consumer protection.
The gathering, the 51st Annual Consumer Assembly, is coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America and is an annual affair that leaders of consumer organizations say has taken on a new urgency.
"We are definitely facing new challenges, incredible threats to consumers' well-being," said Martha Tellado, president and CEO of Consumer Reports, the publishing arm of Consumers Union.
In addition to CFA and Consumers Union, co-sponsors include U.S. PIRG, National Consumer Law Center, Public Citizen, National Consumers League, National Association of Consumer Advocates and Americans for Financial Reform.
Top issues include opposing legislation that would gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and scuttle proposed rules that would limit predatory payday loans and forced arbitration clauses in contracts.
Several advocates voiced concern about one of President Donald Trump’s policies, an executive order that requires government to get rid of two regulations for every new regulated adopted. Consumer groups say such an arbitrary approach threatens the ability to enact new health, safety and financial protections.
“We’re facing an unprecedented attack in Congress on sensible consumer protections that help protect our wallets and keep us safe,” CFA’s executive director Stephen Brobeck said in a statement. “Lawmakers should stand with consumers and reject proposals that threaten to weaken the CFPB and block essential safeguards for working families.”
Tellado said she is encouraged, however, by renewed consumer activism, citing the recent outcry over United Airlines’ treatment of the passenger who was recently dragged off on overbooked flight.
Citizens, Tellado said, are speaking up when they feel mistreated.
"No matter what side you're on,” she said, “there really has been an activation."