Gutting consumer finance regulator would be a huge Trump mistake

 

By Robert Reed, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO, IL -- If you have a credit card, mortgage, payday loan or do any type of consumer financing, expect to be hurt by President Donald Trump’s plan to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — a controversial but effective industry watchdog.

Right now, the focus is on the unusual situation of two people vying to become the agency’s director, a matter that will be determined in court. Beyond that legal tussle, however, there’s a larger issue: Trump’s determination to dismantle the agency’s mission, operations and agenda.

Destroying this nearly 7-year-old agency would be dumb fiscal and public policy. It is one of the few regulatory friends that everyday banking customers have in Washington, D.C., and should be allowed to pursue its unabashedly pro-consumer mission.

But Trump is poised to toss out the current mandate in favor of a more “business-friendly” mission. If successful, his administration risks ignoring, or missing, the types of industry abuses and missteps that have often led to fiscal calamities, including the last Great Recession.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, is Trump’s pick to run the consumer bureau. However, his legitimacy to assume the post is under attack from Leandra English, a top bureau staffer who was picked as acting director by former agency chief Richard Cordray, who recently resigned.

English is suing to stop Mulvaney’s appointment.

“We cannot stand by quietly if the president appoints another industry hack who tries to undo years of progress. We will resist,” Brent Adams, senior vice president of policy at the Woodstock Institute, a Chicago-based nonprofit that advocates for affordable banking services, wrote me in an email.

 

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