Too bad there is no bureau to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The CFPB has been a great ally of consumers. It has returned $11.7 billion to consumers since it set up shop five years ago. It has put new rules in place to protect consumers from shady dealing.
But with a sleight-of-hand that’s being questioned in the courts, President Donald Trump in November appointed Mick Mulvaney to head the bureau. Mulvaney, who also runs the Office of Management and Budget, said in a mission statement he sent out this month that what the bureau needs, essentially, is a commitment to deregulation. And he made it clear he would spend more time thinking about the impact on businesses — and, therefore, less on consumers — when the bureau takes any action.
Now, this month, the CFPB has dropped out of a lawsuit against payday loan operations that charged interest rates of up to 950 percent. Personally, we can’t share his affection for loan sharks.
The entire point of the CFPB is to protect consumers from rapacious and unethical businesses. There is nothing anti-business about going after smooth operators who scheme daily to cheat consumers out of their hard-earned money.
In our digital age, such fraud has been easier and more ubiquitous than ever. It’s now possible for businesses to snow under ordinary Americans with pages and pages of legalese with every online purchase.
In the coming weeks, the Trump administration is expected to name a permanent director of the bureau. We can only hope the president nominates somebody who actually believes in “consumer financial protection.”
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