Mick Mulvaney Replies to Elizabeth Warren
I write to correct misrepresentations made by Sen. Elizabeth Warren in “Republicans Remain Silent as Mulvaney’s CFPB Ducks Oversight” (op-ed, March 29) regarding my leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
She claimed that the planned restructuring of the Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity ignores a congressional mandate that the office “shall have such powers and duties . . . including providing oversight and enforcement of Federal laws.” In fact, Sen. Warren used an ellipsis to conceal that these functions are discretionary; the statute states that the office “shall have such powers and duties as the Director may delegate to the Office, including.”
She claims that actions I have taken to secure sensitive information are illegitimate because my data security concerns are unjustified—a claim that ironically rests upon her mischaracterization of unauthorized leaks to her staff by bureau employees. In fact, the bureau has suffered hundreds of breaches of consumers’ personally identifiable information.
She claims that Congress gave the bureau only one political appointee and mandated that it hire all other employees based on merit. Not only is there no such mandate, the bureau is authorized by law to hire excepted service employees, and this is a common occurrence among independent regulatory agencies.
She claims that I “summarily killed” the bureau’s payday rule. In fact, the bureau announced only its intention to revisit the rule, a process which will proceed in accordance with the normal rule-making requirements.
If Sen. Warren is unsatisfied with my responses to her frequent inquiries, I would remind her that she is the one who conceived of the bureau to be “[f]ree of legislative micromanaging” and who recently reiterated that “the whole idea” of the Bureau was to “insulate it from political influence to the extent possible.”
By amending the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress can bring permanent accountability and transparency to the bureau. In the bureau’s recently issued semiannual report to Congress, I included several legislative recommendations to accomplish exactly those goals. I invite Sen. Warren and other Democrats in Congress to join Republicans in this effort.
Acting Director, CFPB
There has never been such a powerful and unaccountable regulator in U.S. history as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was explicitly designed to be independent of congressional oversight through its funding and its structure, with an all-powerful director who is checked neither by the president’s executive removal power nor a bipartisan board.
Sen. Warren charges that Republicans have suddenly fallen silent on bringing accountability to the CFPB now that one of their own is in charge. That’s untrue. Only two weeks ago, Rep. Dennis Ross (R., Fla.) introduced a bipartisan bill to impose accountability by replacing the single director of the CFPB with a bipartisan five-person commission, the standard structure for an independent agency. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling and other Republicans sought changes to the CFPB in the financial reform bill that passed the Senate earlier this month. But their Democratic counterparts, including Sen. Warren, refuse to compromise on changing the bureau’s structure.
When it comes to the CFPB, Sen. Warren has made her own bed. Now, unless she decides to join her GOP colleagues on legislation to reform the CFPB’s structure, she has to lie in it.
Competitive Enterprise Institute
In 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit determined that the CFPB flunked “Rule of Law 101” in its enforcement action against mortgage company PHH Corp. for alleged Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act violations. The court held that the bureau flouted constitutional due-process requirements and ignored the plain meaning of the statutes it was charged with enforcing. The attitude of the CFPB as led by former Director Richard Cordray could be summarized by a line from the TV series “West Wing”: “I make the laws. I am the law.”
Sen. Warren writes: “This turnabout shows Republicans never cared about accountability [at the CFPB]. They only wanted the agency to be less effective at stopping financial firms from cheating people.”
So, all Republicans, every one of them, want to help financial firms cheat people? Wow! Do you think someone who can’t even take those people’s issues (overregulation comes to mind) into consideration is fit, even if elected, to represent them?