Every day we are reminded that congressional Democrats are on a warpath to derail President Trump and his administration’s successful efforts to undo the regulatory state. One top Democrat who is helping to spearhead this charge is House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). Tomorrow, her wrath against this Administration will likely be on full display as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger is scheduled to appear before Waters’ Committee. The Hearing is entitled “Putting Consumers First: A Semi-Annual Review of the Consumer FinancialProtection Bureau,” but I suspect we will see something much more sinister unfold.
Earlier this year, Waters made no secret that she is on a mission to undo the good work started at the CFPB by then Acting Director Mick Mulvaney to return the Bureau back to an agency that fulfills its stated mission of protecting consumers and businesses.
On a television program earlier this year, Waters said of Mulvaney’s tenure:
"The last two years have been very dangerous. I have been appalled and surprised at how blatant it has been. This administration is not at all concerned about the welfare of the average family."
This is an incredibly rich and false statement by a woman whose actions in this area tell a far different story.
For Waters, it isn’t about protecting families but trying to get back control of an agency created by Democrats to reward their political allies. The latest example of this can be found in the letter she recently sent to CFPB employees encouraging them to act as agency whistleblowers if they are a “witness to waste, fraud, abuse or gross mismanagement.” The great irony here is that back in 2014 when Richard Cordray was CFPB Director, Waters tried to table a hearing with a CFPB whistleblower who eventually testified about a toxic culture at the Bureau, “…a pervasive culture of retaliation and intimidation that silences employees and chills the workforce,” as it was described.
This, however, isn’t the only time she’s tried to turn a blind eye to big problems.
Back in 2013, the Obama Administration, under the auspices of rooting out fraud and abuse in the financial system, launched Operation Choke Point. The goal of this intimidation program was to cut off financial services to legitimate businesses that the Administration deemed to be undesirable such as gun shops. At a 2014 congressional hearing to examine this sinister plot Waters said of the effort “this is a little bit ridiculous and a waste of time.” And, in response to the House passage of a bill in 2016 to shut down this program, she said of the legislation’s supporters "’they will talk about guns, they will talk about Choke Point, they will talk about unfairness’ to small business owners, Waters said. ‘They will talk about everything except the real point of this legislation.’"
Despite her living in denial, a court filing in 2018 completely unmasked the true extent of this rogue operation, carried out at high levels at the Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and CFPB, all to punish small businesses that the Obama Administration saw as political enemies.
On Thursday, Director Kraninger is expected to take a lot of incoming fire from Waters and other Democratic regulation-loving Members of the Committee. One issue that is sure to come up is the CFPB’s current efforts to revise the harmful payday lending rule which has just been re-opened for comment.
The original rule, implemented by Cordray, would have negatively impacted many financially underserved Americans by cutting off their access to credit. While there is ample evidence to suggest the rule was designed to be Cordray’s parting gift to his liberal “consumer advocate” friends, the most recent and disturbing development we have learned about how this rule came about is downright chilling.
As I recently discussed, it turns out that one of the individuals working closely with Cordray and congressional Democrats on the promulgation of the original rule was a violent Antifa leader recently charged in a 2018 assault on two Marines in Philadelphia. An Antifa leader by night, Joseph Alcoff by day was a campaign manager for a liberal “consumer advocacy” group called Americans for Financial Reform. His work has been praised by and he has appeared with congressional Democrats, including Waters.
While Director Kraninger will no doubt demonstrate to the public that she is the able Administrator the CFPB so urgently needs to carry on Mulvaney’s work of ridding the Agency of waste, abuse and political agendas, Waters will try her best to convince us otherwise.
Waters will try and put on a show to convince people she is a friend of consumers. Let us not be fooled because the reality is consumers are just pawns and victims in her crusade against the Trump Administration and its policies. We know because she has already called on CFPB employees to try and do her dirty work.
Ken Blackwell, a former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, is a member of the First Liberty Institute, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, and former Ohio Treasurer of State.