Opinion

Efficiency and Transparency: How Mulvaney Reformed the CFPB

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Posted: May 08, 2019 9:36 AM
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Efficiency and Transparency: How Mulvaney Reformed the CFPB

Source: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

It’s no secret government agencies have long been in the business of making critical decisions without fully understanding how they might affect individuals. Whether it’s telling us what we can or cannot eat or drink, where we can work, or how we can spend our money, it seems the government is somehow always stepping in.

There are approximately 1,300 separate federal organizations that are a part of America's national government. These entities have a more direct and personal impact on the daily lives of the citizenry than any elected official, court, or legislative body, through the rules and regulations they adopt.

There is a growing concern that regulations from these agencies have created an alternative and largely unaccountable system of governance.

There is perhaps no better example of this government bureaucracy on consumers and organizations than the Obama-era Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Created under the guise of consumer protection and as Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proclaimed “brainchild,” the CFPB’s alleged goal was to protect consumers from big banks and illicit Wall Street practices. 

However, somewhere along the way, the Bureau’s mission became severely misconstrued. Instead of implementing regulations that prevented bad actors within the financial services industry from deceiving consumers, the CFPB under former-Director Richard Cordray slowly chipped away at consumers’ ability to make financial choices for themselves while hindering banks from providing efficient products and services. The rogue Bureau, funded directly by the Federal Reserve rather than through a Congressional appropriations process, implemented burdensome and often duplicative regulations. It’s no wonder consumers and the financial services industry became frustrated with the extreme lack of transparency and accountability of the Bureau. It became very clear that the Bureau was not a watchdog, but an attack dog, leaving many discouraged by former-Director Cordray’s regulatory tactics.

Enter a Republican Presidency. After years of dealing with an administration that deceptively claimed to have consumers’ best interest at heart, Americans were fed up with the false promises and regulatory hurdles that kept interfering with any real progress. President Trump understood the cost of bureaucracy and signed  Executive Order 13771 requiring all agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new regulation put into place – the CFPB being no exception. Fortunately, Cordray stepped down as Director to run for Governor, allowing President Trump to appoint Acting Director Mick Mulvaney.

As much as Democrats would like to use Mulvaney as a punching bag in their quest to tarnish the very agency that they created, Mulvaney’s short tenure at the CFPB was characterized by tactful decision making that aimed to benefit consumers. By streamlining CFPB processes and doing away with onerous, often outdated regulations, Mulvaney was doing exactly what consumers elected President Trump to do—reduce the bureaucratic red-tape that constituents agree only serves to cost unnecessary time, money and resources.

And the Acting Director did so in a diplomatic matter at that. When asked about working with other government regulators, he remained “optimistic” that there was a desire for them to come together and work together. Instead of seeing the CFPB as a detached entity, Mulvaney led the charge in affirming that the CFPB abide by the same rules as other regulators. But of course, Democrats wasted no time in detesting Mulvaney’s efforts to hold the CFPB accountable. Just look at the letter 44 Democratic Senators hastily signed arguing against Mulvaney’s selection as the Acting Director, claiming President Trump should pick someone more outspoken against Wall Street.

The fact of the matter is, Democrats can’t admit the Bureau they created had spiraled out of control, and when Acting Director Mulvaney stepped in to clean up the mess, they deflected the blame. As a public servant with experience leading the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and now as White House Chief of Staff, it’s clear Mulvaney’s leadership is valued amongst his peers in Washington and the constituents he serves. His time at the CFPB is no exception.

If anything, what Acting Director Mulvaney brought to the CFPB was efficiency and transparency. In an unprecedented move, Acting Director Mulvaney requested absolutely zero funds for the agency for the second quarter of FY2018 until it was clear how and when to spend funds they already had from enforcement actions.

The bottom line: Acting Director Mulvaney did exactly what he should have done at the CFPB. By reducing consumer and industry crushing regulation, implementing cost-saving measures, and increasing accountability, the CFPB under his leadership was much better off than under his predecessor. Hopefully, the CFPB will continue upon this path with current Director Kathy Kraninger at the helm, setting a precedent for years to come.