Don’t Reform the CFPB: Burn It Down, Salt the Earth

Interim CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney

Washington, D.C. is a town full of acronyms and Orwellian Doublespeak. But one of the newer alphabet-soup agencies is causing a particular stir of late—the ironically named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Just the other day President Trump tweeted,

However, many of us believe the CFPB doesn’t deserve to live. In fact, we believe it should never have been given life in the first place.

CFPB owes its birth to then-Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, spawned from the Dodd-Frank regulations in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. CFPB’s bureaucrats inherited Warren’s distaste for free markets, capitalism, and wealth. Their idea of “protection” is more in line with the mafia’s: they focus much of their efforts on “shaking down banks for Democrat activist groups,” launching a “Civil Penalty Fund” from the spoils of their rogue war on financial institutions.

Not content simply to harass the rich and powerful, the CFPB engaged in a snooping campaign, the likes of which would make the NSA proud. The CFPB began its destructive work in the summer of 2011 and proceeded to launch into a data collection operation on American citizens, “collecting account information on an estimated 991 million American credit card accounts.” Ostensibly, CFPB gathered this information to protect consumers or investigate some malfeasance. In reality, the agency put millions of Americans at greater exposure and increased the likelihood that they could have their identities stolen by criminals or hostile foreign actors.

CFPB also collected data on more than 50 million mortgages. At the time, the CFPB’s mortgage project director said, “It is easy to reverse engineer and identify the people in our database. We have the date the mortgage was taken out, the size of the mortgage and we have the Census tract [of the mortgage holder]. Ninety-five percent of these are unique.”

Utterly Unaccountable
Understand, CFPB is “pro-consumer” in name only. In typical Orwellian fashion, Democrats and the Left love to set up organizations and institutions that do precisely the opposite of what their names imply, from Antifa to CFPB.
This bureau is Big Brother hiding in plain sight as part of the federal government, and you, dear taxpayer, are funding it to the tune of $605 million per year. CFPB employees are some of the highest paid employees in the Swamp. They make great pay, with an average salary of $118,000. Many senior staffers at CFPB make more than the senior staff at the White House. The young bureau renovated its lavish D.C. headquarters in 2014, installing waterfalls, multi-story glass staircases, and even a sunken garden—a project that cost more than $200 million.

The wild spending habits of the CFPB bureaucrats don’t end with public money. Adding insult to injury, of the 594 political contributions made by CFPB employees to candidates, exactly one went to a Republican.

So when President Trump promises to rein in CFPB and bring it back to life, that is precisely the last thing we want. We don’t want it reined in: we want it dead and gone. Now outgoing head of the CFPB, Richard Cordray, and Democrats are doing everything they can to prevent the president from reforming it, anyway.

Recall that Cordray started his tenure at the CFPB as an illegal recess appointee under President Barack Obama. He has now ended his tenure by participating in yet another unlawful scheme to install a close personal aide as his successor in defiance of the president’s decision to fill the job under the Vacancies Act with an acting director, Office of Management and Budget chief Mick Mulvaney.

The legal question is not close, despite the misinformation ginned up by Cordray’s allies, such as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Warren, as well as the trial bar and progressive community. The victims of Cordray’s extremely reckless act will not only be consumers (us), but also the CFPB and its employees who now face the dilemma of reporting to competing directors—one appointed by Cordray, the other by our duly-elected president.

At the news of Mulvaney being appointed as temporary head of CFPB, the “woman who would be queen” of the bureau, Leandra English, did what any good Democrat and Progressive might do in her situation: filed a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent the president from fulfilling his constitutional duty and blocking his ability to appoint an acting director of the office she wants to fill.

Thankfully, the D.C. district court denied English’s restraining order, but we can be sure this isn’t the last we’ve heard of the “Resistance” efforts in the CFPB.

Let the Firings Commence
President Trump should remember that many people voted for him because they were sick of the Progressive vision for America and tired of Washington, D.C. expanding in size and scope all while crushing Americans by taking more of their money and more of their freedom.

The real problem is that most Republicans stroll into D.C. ready to tear down wasteful government but most often do little more than add a fresh coat of paint. The American people have had enough of the Swamp and its dwellers, and CFPB is a microcosm of everything wrong with D.C. The entire Progressive administrative state should be dismantled, and the CFPB is an excellent place to start: it should be pulled apart, piece-by-piece until it ceases to exist.

In the short term, President Trump should issue an executive order to the Treasury Department directing it to rewrite guidance for the CFPB. The bureau should no longer have the power to invade consumer privacy, or designate private companies as “too big to fail” without apparent cause. The bureau should be a coordinate arm of the Treasury Department, not a rogue agency.

Trump should then refuse to appoint another permanent head of CFPB. If Congress does not act to undo the bureau, Trump should instruct Mick Mulvaney to gut the CFPB. Mulvaney should bring back President Trump’s second favorite catchphrase—“You’re Fired”—kick the entire staff to the curb, burn the building to the ground, and salt the earth so that the CFPB may never rise again.

An empty dirt lot would be more valuable to the American people than the CFPB ever was.

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About Ned Ryun

Ned Ryun is a former presidential writer for George W. Bush and the founder and CEO of American Majority. You can find him on Twitter @nedryun.