Washington treated us to some top-flight political theater Monday. The curtain went up on Act One when two people showed up, both claiming to be the new acting head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Trump appointee Mick Mulvaney and CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English, who claimed to be appointed by the former Obama-appointed director. Mulvaney won the crown by showing up with donuts, plus by giving a press conference that you really must see and by citing the law being on his side, which even the CFPB’s top legal counsel agreed with. English is suing, claiming that the Dodd-Frank Act gives the agency head the right to appoint his successor, but Trump asserted his right to do so under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998.
All that legal argle-bargle aside, have you ever heard of anything so blatantly unconstitutional as a powerful government agency that is unaccountable to any other branch of government (the CFPB was set up to be funded by the Federal Reserve, so Congress can’t even defund it), that can make regulations and assess fines with the force of law with no input from elected representatives, and that would have the power to appoint its own directors with no input from the President, Congress or the voters? Even a DC court already ruled its structure unconstitutional.
The CFPB was sold to the public by its liberal creators as an independent consumer watchdog, but what it’s actually turned into is an out-of-control shakedown organization that extorts money from businesses for arbitrary violations and redistributes it to progressive activist organizations. It’s no wonder liberals are howling so much at the idea of it being brought under control, but that’s not because it’s helping consumers.
I can’t tell you how many small town bankers across the country have told me that they no longer make loans in the $10,000 range because CFPB regulations eat up more costs than they make from them. The agency, in the name of “protecting consumers and small businesses,” is actually driving local banks out of business, and preventing Americans from obtaining the kind of small loans that enable them to restock merchandise or add an extra room onto their houses for a new baby. The CFPB represents the Big Lie of “I’m from Washington and I’m here to help you,” taken to the Nth degree.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m no fan of giant Wall Street banks, and I strongly believe that consumers and small businesses need protection. But creating yet another unaccountable, power-mad, unconstitutional federal bureaucracy is hardly the way to protect individual rights.
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