With Trump and Co. Now in Control, Has The CFPB Made a Costly Mistake?

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CFPB Director Richard Cordray at Money2020 in 2016For years, the CFPB has rejected all calls by republicans (and even some democrats) to reconfigure its one-director leadership to a multi-member commission. At present, Director Richard Cordray has full authority to create the rules and enforce the rules and reports to no one, not even the President of the United States. As the only executive agency with significant authority to operate in this manner, critics have become increasingly worried the CFPB might abuse its power. And just last month, the agency was accused to have actually done so.

In PHH Corp. v. CFPB, the CFPB was alleged to have made legal errors in their enforcement action against a mortgage lender, but more to the point, that the CFPB itself was unconstitutional. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed in part, ruling the agency’s structure unconstitutional. The agency was ordered to cure the defect either by conceding its directorship to a multi-member commission or making its leader report directly to the President of the United States.

But the CFPB has refused to comply, arguing shortly thereafter in another case that the “decision was wrongly decided and is not likely to withstand further review,” amplifying fears that the agency had gone rogue and potentially become drunk with power.

Cordray, who has tried to assure critics that his agenda is merely meat and potatoes, now faces a new challenge, a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Congress, who may see this as their only opportunity to rein him in.

According to Bloomberg, sources contend that the CFPB’s and Democrats’ previous unwillingness to concede anything at all, now puts the entire agency itself in jeopardy. Cordray himself is at great risk of losing his job, the Huffington Post asserts.

Already there is chatter of firing Cordray on Trump’s first day in office either for cause as Dodd-Frank allows for, or simply at his own discretion, as the Appeals Court ruled would be acceptable.

Has the CFPB erred all this time?

Last modified: December 18, 2016
Sean Murray

Category: Analysis, Regulation

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