Trump's Consumer Protection Chief Says It's His Job to Serve the Banks


Since Mick Mulvaney became the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a weird coup, he has made it clear that he intends to slow the agency’s actions down as much as possible. He requested $0 in funding for the agency, saying he would spend its reserve funds rather than ask for new money. He announced that the CFPB would ask for public comment on all of its activities, essentially inviting banks and payday lenders to enter into the public record just how hoppin’ mad they are about their predatory practices being regulated and, occasionally, punished with fines. He dropped a probe into a payday lender which, totally coincidentally, donated to his campaign when he was in the House.

Mulvaney’s latest attack on the bureau came on Tuesday, when he sent a memo to employees outlining the bureau’s “new mission.” That mission: doing fuck all, basically.

ProPublica was the first to obtain Mulvaney’s full insane memo. It misquoted the previous CFPB director, Richard Cordray, as saying the bureau should “push the envelope” (according to the New York Times, that was actually said by an anonymous CFPB employee). Instead, Mulvaney wrote, the agency would focus “on quantifiable and unavoidable harm to the consumer” rather than “go looking for excuses to bring lawsuits.”

Mulvaney even argued, incredibly, that his definition of working for “the people” encompasses “those who use credit cards, and those who provide those cards.” Meaning, the banks. They work for the banks now. After all, Wells Fargo is just made up of people. It’s run by people, who are part of “the people,” not crabs or aliens or stacks of ham. Checkmate, bitch, logic much?

Mulvaney invoked wearisome bullshit “job killing” rhetoric to justify not doing his own damn job:

The damage that we can do to people could linger for years and cost them their jobs, their savings, and their homes. If the CFPB loses a court case because we “pushed too hard,” we simply move on to the next matter. But where do those that we have charged go to get their time, their money, or their good names back? If a company closes its doors under the weight of a multi-year Civil Investigative Demand, you and I will still have jobs at CFPB. But what about the workers who are laid off as a result? Where do they go the next morning?

The memo also said that while the agency will still use its power to fine companies, it will do so as “the most final of last resorts”:

bringing the full weight of the federal government down on the necks of the people we serve should be something that we do only reluctantly, and only when all other attempts at resolution have failed. It should be the most final of last resorts.

“The people we serve”!!! He means the damn banks and payday lenders and horrible predatory debt collectors!!!

Here are some companies the CFPB has taken enforcement actions against in the past:

  • JP Morgan Chase, ordered to to refund $309 million in 2013 to “more than 2.1 million customers for illegal credit card practices.” It continues to exist today despite having the boot of the government on its neck.
  • Top Notch Funding, punished “for lying in loan offers to NFL players, Deepwater Horizon victims, and 9/11 first responders.” LITERAL 9/11 HEROES.
  • Freedom Stores, Inc., Freedom Acceptance Corporation, and Military Credit Services LLC—companies that provide credit to members of the military who “used illegal tactics to collect debts, including filing illegal lawsuits, debiting consumers’ accounts without authorization, and contacting servicemembers’ commanding officers.” Yep—the Troops.
  • Mastercard and UniRush LLC, for “a rash of preventable failures” which “meant that many customers could not use their RushCard to get their paychecks and other direct deposits, take out cash, make purchases, pay bills, or get accurate balance information.”

You can read the full memo here.

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