On June 9, working families achieved a victory. But not without irony … or a caveat.
In a sign of the times we live in, victories for working families at the national level no longer seem to come by way of constructive action – for example, through much-needed laws expanding worker rights, raising the minimum wage, and improving health care.
Instead, as the Trump administration continues to demolish as much of Obama’s legacy as it can get away with, a victory is redefined as the rare progressive edifice that somehow survives the Make America Great Again wrecking ball.
And so it is that we rejoice at the survival of the Obama administration’s “fiduciary rule,” which took effect June 9. President Donald Trump targeted the rule when he came into office, but Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that its implementation could no longer be delayed.
There is no “principled legal basis” for further delaying this rule, Acosta wrote.
However controversial, the rule is probably commonsensical to most American working families: It merely requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients.
Though Americans planning for retirement can’t be blamed for making the assumption, financial advisers don’t have an obligation to them beyond recommending “suitable” investments. Brokers can steer their clients toward worse investment choices with the goal of earning bigger bonuses for themselves.
This dishonest practice costs Americans about $17 billion a year. That’s money taken from the pockets of hard-working citizens and transferred directly into Wall Street’s coffers.
The good news is that the Obama rule is expected to go a long way toward putting an end to these practices. The caveat is that the Trump administration can still tinker with it to try to undermine it.
Few issues are black or white, but this one comes close: It’s American working families vs. Wall Street, and the Obama rule is a huge step in the right direction for the former.
Now that the “fiduciary rule” is in place, Trump can try to undermine this victory for working families or he can move on. If he fights back, he’ll once again reveal his true allegiances.